Monstervision's Joe Bob Briggs Looks At

Frankenstein (1931)

(From Joe Bob's Ultimate B Movie Guide)


In this most imitated of all horror films, Colin Clive is the tortured Dr. Frankenstein, with Mae Clarke as his fiancee, and, in the role that would make him famous, Boris Karloff as the monster. For its time, it was the absolute limit in terror, banned in several states and a few foreign countries, and famous several scenes, including the opener, in which we see and hear earth crashing onto the lid of a coffin. (Oddly enough, this was the first time anyone had tried this effect.) More controversial is the scene in which the monster drowns a little girl, thinking she's one of the beautiful flowers to be tossed onto a placid pond. In some theaters the scene was cut at such an early stage that audience members imagined some horrible molestation of the girl had taken place! James Whale directed from a script by Garrett Fort and Francis Ford Faragoh, loosely based on a previous script by French director Robert Florey, which was in turn based on an unproduced script by Horace Liveright and Louis Cline, which was in turn based on a melodramatic play by Peggy Webling, which was in turn based on the original 1818 novel by Mary Shelley. The story also borrowed from earlier German silent films like THE GOLEM and THE CABINET OF DR. CALIGARI.  Jack P. Pierce, head of Universal's makeup department, was responsible for the Frankenstein "look," after spending three months studying anatomy, surgery, criminology and electrodynamics. Electrical engineer Kenneth Strickfaden was hired to create the lightning- arc generators that bring the monster to life. With Dwight Frye as Frankenstein's assistant Fritz, a character not in the original novel but part of the first London stage version in 1823, and Edward Van Sloan as Dr. Waldman.

2000 Joe Bob Briggs. All Rights Reserved. Not an AOL Time-Warner Company in this lifetime.

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Joe Bob reviews the sequel: Bride of Frankenstein

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