Hef’s Movie Notes: The Bride of Frankenstein

By Hugh Hefner

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Some say this is the greatest Frankenstein film of all, Hef may just agree.


Tonight: Boris Karloff, Colin Clive, Valerie Hobson and Elsa Lancaster in the five-star horror classic, The Bride of Frankenstein.

The original Frankenstein, released in 1931, was based on a classic novel written by the 19-year old Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin, after a night telling ghost stories with her fiancée, Percy Shelley and Lord George Byron in 1816.

The movie version of Frankenstein, directed by James Whale, made a star of Boris Karloff, the actor who played the monster. The film became a blockbuster and a classic.

The studio wanted a sequel, but Whale wasn’t anxious to try and top himself. So he made The Old Dark House with Karloff in 1932 and The Invisible Man with Claude Rains instead.

Kurt Neumann was assigned to direct the sequel to Frankenstein, with Karloff as the monster and Bela Lugosi getting his wish to play the scientist. But this project ran into script problems and was shelved so that Karloff and Lugosi could perform together in The Black Cat (1934).

When Whale finally agreed to make a sequel, its working title was The Return of Frankenstein.

Rains was the original choice for the mad Dr. Pretorius, before the part was given to the unforgettable Ernest Thesiger.

The tortured Colin Clive returned as Dr. Frankenstein, the ultimate mad scientist. (He barely lived past the film’s theatrical release.)

Renamed The Bride of Frankenstein and shot for one-third more money ($397,000) than the original, the title role was awarded to Elsa Lancaster. (The part was almost given to Louise Brooks.)

Although technically, Lancaster isn’t the bride of Frankenstein, she is the “bride” of the monster. And she also portrays the authoress, Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin, in a scene with Byron and Shelley, at the start of the picture, in which she continues to tell her story of the man who created monsters.

What sets the Bride apart from the original is the fact that the sequel is actually superior to the first film.

Whale actually intended the sequel to be a wicked parody of the original—and he succeeded.

So now, from 1935, the unforgettable Bride of Frankenstein.


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