Henry Frankenstein is a doctor who is trying to discover a way to make the dead walk. He succeeds and creates a monster that has to deal with living again. Written by
Josh Pasnak <firstname.lastname@example.org>
The first Universal monster classic movie I ever saw...
To clear the air on certain misconceptions that may arise from what I say here, I've read the book. I've liked the book. I realize that the movie truly has nothing in common with it aside from the fact that an artificial man is brought to life in both. But none of the above took away from my enjoyment of James Whale's rightly considered classic film. The tacked on introduction scene and the obligatory happy ending are indeed laughable when one thinks of what is horrific in this day and age, but I was hooked from the surreal credit sequence on. To me, the real ending of this film will always be at the burning windmill, an ending of an all-too-believable tragedy.
Colin Clive is a little bit overblown as Herr Frankenstein, but he does a capable enough job with the title role (something that is usually tacked onto the monster instead). Edward Van Sloan, a favorite of mine from the Universal stock company, does quite well himself as Frankenstein's old teacher, Dr. Waldmann. As for Karloff...*exhale in admiration* what can I say? I first knew him as the narrator and voice of the Grinch in Dr Seus' "How the Grinch Stole Christmas" (I didn't find this out until years later, but find out I did). "Frankenstein" marked the first time that I'd ever seen him on the screen for real. From the stiff walk to the eternally mournful face, he made the misunderstood monster his for the ages (it is also telling that, in spite of this, Karloff went on to a long, illustrious, if underappreciated, career).
Two other facts that stick in my mind about this movie: the creation sequence and the naming of two of it's characters. The heavy-industrial machinery used to create the monster was inspired by the silent Fritz Lang classic, "Metropolis" (indeed, many films, from the original "The Mummy" and "Bride of Frankenstein" to "Dark City" and "The Matrix" owe a debt to this excellent science fantasy), specifically the grafting of Maria's image onto the android. This machinery, I am told, would later go on to a return engagement in Mel Brooks' "Young Frankenstein". Fact #2: anyone who has read the novel will know that the first name of Frankenstein is Victor and his best friend's Henry. Apparently the play (or perhaps the screenplay writers; I've no way of knowing) switched these two around to where we know have HENRY Frankenstein and VICTOR his best friend.
The only thing that has "sucked" about "Frankenstein" is its imitators vainly trying to make lightning strike twice (pun intended). But don't bet the house on any ever coming close. A hundred years from now, this brilliant alternate work will still stand as truly classic as the book that helped to inspire it.
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