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Frankenstein (1931); Combined threads
Topic Started: Sep 25 2006, 12:05 PM (485 Views)
Laughing Gravy
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CNN has an article on Frankenstein (1931) and its impact. Not a deep article, but not uninteresting.

http://www.cnn.com/2006/SHOWBIZ/Movies/09/...5.ap/index.html
"I'm glad that this question came up, because there are so many ways to answer it that one of them is bound to be right." - Robert Benchley
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Laughing Gravy
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I did pick this up this week. In addition to the film, it contains a "Monster Tracks" feature that gives you subtitles with interesting facts about the movie (well, most of them are interesting), two feature commentary tracks, the bonuses that were on the previous DVD editions, and a feature-length documentary, narrated by Kenneth Branagh, called Universal Horror. All this with lovely packaging, too.

I skipped the 75th Anniversary edition of Dracula.
"I'm glad that this question came up, because there are so many ways to answer it that one of them is bound to be right." - Robert Benchley
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Laughing Gravy
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Oh, I forgot to mention the main reason I picked this one up: the new 40-min. documentary on the career of Mr. Karloff.
"I'm glad that this question came up, because there are so many ways to answer it that one of them is bound to be right." - Robert Benchley
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andarius
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Saw it some weeks ago on England's FilmFour satellite channel - stands up very well, but thought the follow-up Bride of Frankenstein was an excellent black comedy - loads of laughs and it never misfired, IMHO!
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The Batman
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The documentary sounds interesting, LG, but was this "edition" worth the double-dipping? Like me, I am gonna assume you have the original boxed set of Universal horror movies, making this a "George Lucas Special" in my book.
Always be yourself! Unless you can be Batman...then always be Batman!
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Laughing Gravy
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I actually have Frankenstein on DVD in all its incarnations, which number, what? 3? 4?

It's not worth it just for the film, frankly, which looks no better than the previous release and which will probably be in high-def before too long. I got it for the bonus material, which was enjoyable. You'll notice I skipped Dracula, though.
"I'm glad that this question came up, because there are so many ways to answer it that one of them is bound to be right." - Robert Benchley
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The Batman
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Laughing Gravy
Oct 5 2006, 08:04 PM
You'll notice I skipped Dracula, though.

I did! And for budgetary reasons, I will have to skip both, and hope to see the documentary some other way, down the road.
Always be yourself! Unless you can be Batman...then always be Batman!
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Laughing Gravy
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Frankenstein
Universal, 1931
Directed by James Whale

Starring Colin Clive, Mae Clarke, John Boles
and Boris Karloff as the Monster

Following the impressive success of Dracula in early 1931, Universal wanted an immediate gothic followup, and rather than negotiate with the Bram Stoker estate, made a quick deal for an unsuccessful stage version of Mary Shelley's immortal tale of "The Modern Prometheus", Frankenstein. Bela Lugosi was supposed to star and Robert Florey was supposed to direct, but -- well, something happened. Did Lugosi think he was going to play the romantic lead, the doctor, and balk at playing the Monster? That's a possibility. It seems just as likely, though, that once James Whale was handed the director's chair, Lugosi was out regardless of his feelings about the project. In any case, Florey and Bela moved over to Murders in the Rue Morgue and the Frankenstein project became Whale's baby.

The story goes that Karloff was on the Universal lot filming Graft with Regis Toomey, a crime melodrama, when he was spotted by fellow Englishman Whale, who asked him to screen test as the Frankenstein Monster. Boris, who'd been knocking around Hollywood for over a decade and was now 43 years old, was busy in these early talkie days (his filmography indicates more than a dozen films besides Frankenstein released in 1931) but not too busy to try out for a key role with an important director. Makeup man Jack Pierce liked Karloff's face very much, and together they created a grotesque makeup unequaled since the heyday of Lon Chaney.

Despite the ignomy of being billed as "?" in the opening credits, Karloff's name was soon on the lips of many terrified filmgoers. Today, it's easy to see the film as just a monster movie, albeit a good one. Aside from the hardcore fans, most casual movie buffs probably don't screen it very often, thinking they know it by heart. Well, watch it again. There isn't a bad scene in the picture, and there's a lot of subtext to be found. Henry (Colin Clive) makes it quite clear that he's not interested in bringing a corpse back to life: he wants to CREATE a man himself, which is why he stitches one together piece by piece. Listen to his screams during the "birth" of the Monster, and observe him in the next scene with his feet up, calmy enjoying a cigaret, seemingly post-coital. Whale had definite ideas he wanted put on the screen, and they were profane and blasphemous (which would be even more obvious in the sequel). And is Henry pleased with his "child"! "No blood, no decay, -- just a few stitches!" he says proudly of this mockery of humanity. He doesn't think much of humans anyway; "What is a brain? Only a piece of dead tissue." He doesn't think much of death, either, in one of the first scenes in the picture hitting a statue of the Grim Reaper square in the mug with a shovelful of dirt.

This is a great movie, with a soulful, powerful performance by Boris Karloff. All the years of toiling in productions large and small had paid off at last, and the former William Henry Pratt had achieved screen immortality. He would be a very busy star for the remaining four decades of his life.

Frankenstein has been released on DVD by Universal several times, including a Legacy Collection that gathers the best of the sequels and a 75th Anniversary Edition with bonus features. Heck, they're all highly recommended.
"I'm glad that this question came up, because there are so many ways to answer it that one of them is bound to be right." - Robert Benchley
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AndyFish
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All right, bogged down with tons of work in my studio-- and functioning without the brains and beauty half of FishandHebs (she's got the flu) I've been "watching" movies non-stop since New Years day (they play on a mini player nearby while I work).

Today is Frankenstein day-- I will watch every Universal incarnation of the monster- and I'm barely out of the gate and once again stumped how the villagers know the monster had anything to do with the death of little Maria at the lake??

HOW? Was there a witness? Is it because they know the monster is loose? I've wondered this since I first saw this move from under my bed when I was 9.
Andy
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John Doe
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Because they watched it on TV too? :D
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Sgt Saturn
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John Doe
Jan 5 2008, 02:03 AM
Because they watched it on TV too? :D

Nah, in those days TV was only for the rich. They knew because they read it in the script. :P
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drewc
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a one armed man saw the whole thing
Dont Miss the next thrilled packed episode of Next Week Productions
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Laughing Gravy
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Universal Shock Classics #4
Frankenstein (1931)
Prod. Carl Laemmle, Jr.
Dir. James Whale

Posted Image

Less than two months after the release of Dracula, Universal procured rights to the play Frankenstein, then tossed it and began concocting their own version. Bela Lugosi was to play the monster; Robert Florey was directing and supervising the writing. The whole thing was to be done pretty quickly, but Laemmle wasn't satisfied with the way things were going, he didn't like the scene of Lugosi as the Monster that Florey had shot, and by late summer, James Whale was brought in, new rewrites were done, and, famously, Whale spotted Karloff in the commissary, thought his "face was fascinating," and ended up inviting him to take a screen test - without telling him what it was. Boris readily agreed.

I rewatched the Blu-ray this morning, and enjoyed the film as much as I always have, maybe more. The sound gets a nice boost (you can actually make out what the villagers are saying, if you've a mind to), the HD restoration is terrific, and Karloff's superb performance takes on a new luster. This is a great, great movie. It grossed more than twice as much as Dracula had.

Following the premiere in Santa Barbara, which the audience had found shocking and grim, a happy ending (Henry lives!) was tacked on, as was a warning introduction with Edward Van Sloan. The actual death of Maria was cut (to Boris' relief), as was the "Now I know what it feels like to be God" line Colin Clive says. (Various state censor boards cut more out for their regions.) Karloff was an "overnight star" at the age of 43, an apt reward for an arduous shoot (up to 16 hour days) and makeup, not to mention he had no stunt double in the film.

Frankenstein can be watched and re-watched with great pleasure as often as you've a mind to.
"I'm glad that this question came up, because there are so many ways to answer it that one of them is bound to be right." - Robert Benchley
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Laughing Gravy
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Posted Image

Frankenstein (1931) Dir. James Whale
71 min. / B&W / 1.37:1
Blu-ray: Universal (several incarnations)

ITB Shock Theatre #04

Great film; while I'm constantly liking Dracula more and more the more oftener I re-view it, I've always loved this one. It's so... morbid. Read George E. Turner's take on the film, too, in The Cinema of Adventure, Romance & Terror; he reveals that Whale stuck a microphone in the coffin so that the first shovelful of dirt hitting it in the opening scene really jolts us out of our seats (even more so in HD). Turner also suggests that the death of Maria, while vital to the film, should've been filed on a set, bringing it out to a real lake destroys the mood built up by the rest of the film. He's probably right; the sequence with the girl and the goats in the first sequel works much better. I was never bothered by the phony backdrop of sky in the chase sequence on the mountains, either: it simply adds to the nightmarish quality of it all. Finally, Turner also clears up what I thought was an odd line by Baron Frankenstein, about his son "messing about" in a windmill when he has a nice, warm home. Did that anticipate the climax, or what? Turns out that the original script put Henry's lab in the windmill, an idea jettisoned for an abandoned watchtower, but somehow that line wasn't altered.

Million-dollar Dialog:
Frankenstein to Waldman: "You have never wanted to look beyond the clouds or the stars, or to know what causes the trees to bud and what changes the darkness into light. But if you talk like that, people call you crazy!"

Terrific cast and one of the all-time classic movies.
"I'm glad that this question came up, because there are so many ways to answer it that one of them is bound to be right." - Robert Benchley
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