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Frankenstein (1931) More at IMDbPro »

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Frankenstein -- Boris Karloff is the screen's most memorable creature in the story of Dr. Frankenstein, who tampers with life and death when he pieces together salvaged body parts to create a human monster.
Frankenstein -- Horror classic in which an obsessed scientist assembles a living being from parts of exhumed corpses.
Frankenstein -- Clip: It's Alive


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Popularity: ?
Down 53% in popularity this week. See why on IMDbPro.
John L. Balderston (based upon the composition by)
Mary Shelley (from the novel by)
View company contact information for Frankenstein on IMDbPro.
Release Date:
21 November 1931 (USA) See more »
The Man Who Made A Monster! See more »
An obsessed scientist assembles a living being from parts of exhumed corpses. Full summary » | Full synopsis »
Plot Keywords:
3 wins & 2 nominations See more »
User Reviews:
Whale's First Masterpiece See more (520 total) »


  (in credits order) (verified as complete)

Colin Clive ... Henry Frankenstein

Mae Clarke ... Elizabeth

John Boles ... Victor Moritz

Boris Karloff ... The Monster (as ?)
Edward Van Sloan ... Doctor Waldman
Frederick Kerr ... Baron Frankenstein

Dwight Frye ... Fritz

Lionel Belmore ... The Burgomaster
Marilyn Harris ... Little Maria
rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Ted Billings ... Villager (uncredited)
Mae Bruce ... Screaming Maid (uncredited)
Jack Curtis ... Villager (uncredited)

Arletta Duncan ... Bridesmaid (uncredited)
William Dyer ... Gravedigger (uncredited)

Francis Ford ... Hans (uncredited)

Soledad Jiménez ... Mourner (uncredited)

Carmencita Johnson ... Little Girl (uncredited)
Seessel Anne Johnson ... Little Girl (uncredited)
Margaret Mann ... Mourner (uncredited)
Michael Mark ... Ludwig (uncredited)

Pauline Moore ... Bridesmaid (uncredited)
Inez Palange ... Villager (uncredited)

Paul Panzer ... Mourner at Gravesite (uncredited)

Cecilia Parker ... Maid (uncredited)
Rose Plumer ... Villager (uncredited)
Cecil Reynolds ... Waldman's Secretary (uncredited)
Ellinor Vanderveer ... Medical Student (uncredited)

Directed by
James Whale 
Writing credits
John L. Balderston (based upon the composition by)

Mary Shelley (from the novel by) (as Mrs. Percy B. Shelley)

Peggy Webling (adapted from the play by)

Garrett Fort (screen play) &
Francis Edward Faragoh (screen play)

Richard Schayer (scenario editor)

Robert Florey  contributor to treatment (uncredited)
John Russell  contributor to screenplay construction (uncredited)

Produced by
E.M. Asher .... associate producer
Carl Laemmle Jr. .... producer
Original Music by
Bernhard Kaun (uncredited)
Cinematography by
Arthur Edeson 
Paul Ivano (uncredited)
Film Editing by
Clarence Kolster (film editor)
Art Direction by
Charles D. Hall 
Makeup Department
Pauline Eells .... wig maker (uncredited)
Jack P. Pierce .... makeup artist (uncredited)
Jack P. Pierce .... makeup designer (uncredited)
Second Unit Director or Assistant Director
Joseph A. McDonough .... assistant director (uncredited)
Art Department
Ed Keyes .... property master (uncredited)
Herman Rosse .... set designer (uncredited)
Sound Department
C. Roy Hunter .... recording supervisor
William Hedgcock .... sound recordist (uncredited)
Special Effects by
Franz Dallons .... props (uncredited)
Oscar Dallons .... props (uncredited)
Paul Dallons .... props (uncredited)
John P. Fulton .... special effects (uncredited)
Ken Strickfaden .... special electrical properties (uncredited)
Visual Effects by
Brian J. McNamara .... digital restoration artist (remastered version)
Cleo E. Baker .... minatures (uncredited)
Camera and Electrical Department
Sherman Clark .... still photographer (uncredited)
Jack Eagan .... assistant camera (uncredited)
Jack Freulich .... still photographer (uncredited)
Alan Jones .... second camera (uncredited)
George Trafton .... assistant camera (uncredited)
Costume and Wardrobe Department
Mae Bruce .... wardrobe assistant (uncredited)
Editorial Department
Maurice Pivar .... supervising film editor (as Maurice E. Pivar)
Music Department
David Broekman .... musical director (uncredited)
Gilbert Kurland .... music supervisor (uncredited)
Other crew
Carl Laemmle .... presenter
Carl Laemmle .... president: Universal Pictures Corp.
Frank Graves .... electrical effects assistant (uncredited)
Raymond Lindsay .... electrical effects (uncredited)
Robert Livingston .... double: Colin Clive, closing distant shot (uncredited)
Cecil Reynolds .... medical consultant (uncredited)
Gerald L.G. Sampson .... technical advisor (uncredited)
Crew verified as complete

Production CompaniesDistributorsOther Companies

Additional Details

Also Known As:
70 min
Aspect Ratio:
1.37 : 1 See more »
Sound Mix:
Mono (Western Electric Sound System)
Argentina:13 | Australia:M | Brazil:12 | Canada:PG (Manitoba/Ontario) | Canada:G (Quebec) | Canada:(Banned) (Quebec) (original rating) | Finland:K-15 (2004) | Germany:16 | Iceland:16 | Norway:16 (video rating) | Singapore:PG | South Korea:12 | Spain:13 | Sweden:11 | UK:A (original rating) (cut) | UK:PG (video rating) (2002) | UK:PG (video rating) (1986) (cinema version) (cut) | USA:Not Rated (DVD Rating) | USA:TV-PG (TV rating) | USA:Approved (certificate #3809-R re-release)

Did You Know?

Technically not conceived as a "horror" movie, since the term "horror" as a film genre was first used in 1934.See more »
Continuity: When Frankenstein is thrown from the windmill, his body hits the wind wheel driving it to rotate anti-clockwise. In the next shot it rotates clockwise again.See more »
[first lines]
Dr. Henry Frankenstein:Down! Down, you fool!
See more »
Movie Connections:
Featured in Frankenstein: A Modern Myth (2012) (TV)See more »
Grand AppassionatoSee more »


How closely does the film follow Shelley's novel?
How does the movie end?
How much sex, violence, and profanity are in this movie?
See more »
64 out of 78 people found the following review useful.
Whale's First Masterpiece, 31 January 2005
Author: Brandt Sponseller from New York City

After having been kicked out of school for his controversial work, Dr. Henry Frankenstein (Colin Clive) has been experimenting with the scientific forces behind the creation and perpetuation of life in his private laboratory. With the aid of his assistant, Fritz (Dwight Frye), Frankenstein finally tries his coup de grace--piecing together human parts to create a "new" life. When his experiments do not go exactly as planned, Frankenstein and his fellow villagers are endangered.

Like a few other classics, director James Whale's 1931 masterpiece, Frankenstein, is one of those films that deserves to have every frame analyzed. Unlike most, Frankenstein is one of those classics that actually has had almost every frame analyzed. Countless theses and dissertations have been written about the film and its subtexts, so I can't imagine that I'd add anything novel along those lines in the space provided here. Instead, I'll take a brief look at some of the more straightforward aspects of Frankenstein that, in my view, contribute to its masterpiece status.

The opening of the film has a very hefty dose of atmosphere, which continues more or less throughout its length. Although it was obviously filmed in a studio--the sky is a painted backdrop complete with wrinkles, this fact actually adds to the atmosphere of the film, even lending a slight surrealism. There is no score to speak of aside from the music playing during the titles, but the sounds that occur are just as effective, such as the ringing bell during the opening. There are also a lot of subtle visuals, and some merely subtly effective, such as the grim reaper at end of a long panning shot in the beginning of the film.

The seriousness and realism of the grave-digging scene, complete with Henry Frankenstein throwing dirt at the grim reaper, is beautiful foreshadowing. As in the rest of the film, there is nothing jokey about this situation. Watch how effectively the actors convey a sense of toiling and franticness, how they convey the "weight" of the coffin. This is a curious fact about the film overall. Although the material is relatively melodramatic, and occasionally extremely so (especially in the case of Henry Frankenstein), the performances always come across as serious and realistic rather than campy (with the possible exception of a single snarling "growl" from the monster when he encounters Elizabeth, Frankenstein's bride-to-be). Contrast this to how Tod Browning's Dracula plays in the present day. In that film, Lugosi--although I love his performance--does come across as occasionally campy, especially in the close-ups of his "hypnotically staring" eyes. Even the one character that is meant to give some light comic relief, that of Frankenstein's father, Baron Frankenstein (Frederick Kerr), is comic only in that the character is a bit sarcastic, with a dry sense of humor. As such, Kerr portrays the Baron seriously, also.

The production and set design, as in the sequel, Bride of Frankenstein (1935), adds volumes to the atmosphere and beauty of the film. The interior of the "watchtower", where Frankenstein's private laboratory is located, is reminiscent of German expressionist films such as The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920), and they both contrast and cohere wonderfully with the more symmetrical, right-angled lab equipment constructed by Kenneth Strickfaden.

Because there is no score, the actors have no help in amping up the emotions in their performances. Despite this, rarely has either Boris Karloff's monster or Colin Clive's mad doctor been matched. Whale helps with some ingenious shots and sequences, such as the "progressive close-ups" when we first see the monster. He also gives us a number of "stage-like" devices that work remarkably well, such as the pans through cutaways in the set that in the film's world do not really exist. Interestingly, Whale has still had the cutaways decorated as if they are extant in the film's world. Although they may seem dated now, Whale's technique of fading to black between scenes also amplifies the sense of "literary chapters" in the story, and gives an effective, ambiguous sense of time passage between the scenes.

Whale also achieves some wonderful, more understated scenes of horror in the film, often set up by contrasts. For example the severe contrast of the villager walking into the wedding party with his daughter, and the surreal bucolic adventure of the villagers working their way through the countryside to find the monster.

Many younger viewers might have a difficult time watching Frankenstein if they are not used to black & white, slower paced, understated films with a different approach to acting. These classics are an acquired taste for younger generations, but of course it's a taste worth acquiring.

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Message Boards

Discuss this movie with other users on IMDb message board for Frankenstein (1931)
Recent Posts (updated daily)User
Karloff's actig as the monster is overrated agusmaga93
Why do you like this movie? paulosantoro
Best Actor to Portray Dr. Frankenstein? KingofWayne66
You gotta admit, the movie does pale when compared to the novel Agent_Mulder89
Misplaced actor credits flgrovez
a brilliant fillip by Dwight Frye vironpride
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