Thursday, September 29, 2011

I Do: "The Bride of Frankenstein" (1935)



Almost seventy years old now, this sequel to the classic "Frankenstein" proves that some films are timeless, even when looking at them for the first time.

Elsa Lanchester is Mary Shelley, recounting what happened after the events of the first film, on a dark and stormy night with her famous husband and Lord Byron. The film makers wisely recap the highlights of the first film, reminding the audience of the basic plot.

While better than the original "Frankenstein," this film is still not technically perfect. There are quite a few editing gaffes, where someone is doing something in one shot, but not another. Whale's direction really does not come alive until the last creation scene, which has wonderful off-center and shadowed shots. Even Karloff's monster makeup appears softened compared to the first film.

On the positives, however, the black and white atmosphere works well here. Sets or not, the high ceilings and creepy Euro look are chilling. The special effects also rival modern films, they are excellent and not cheesy in the slightest.

While Karloff is good, Lanchester is excellent in her too brief role as the bride. Una O'Connor is a scream (literally) as the cowardly housekeeper who always seems to meet up with the Monster at the wrong time. Dwight Frye is underused as a lab assistant. Colin Clive is kept in the background as Frankenstein. He seems ill at ease, and the actor died a few years later as a result of alcoholism. By the way, the book and film "Gods and Monsters" got their title from this film, and a toast made by Pretorious.

While this film has garnered a nearly flawless reputation in the last seven decades, it does deserve accolades.

"The Bride of Frankenstein" may not terrify you like it did audiences of the past, but it is interesting to see the inspiration behind almost every monster movie made afterward. (* * * * *) out of five stars. See this movie now!: The Bride of Frankenstein