James Whale Poster


Jump to: Overview (3)  | Mini Bio (1)  | Trade Mark (2)  | Trivia (9)  | Personal Quotes (4)  | Salary (1)

Overview (3)

Born in Dudley, Worcestershire, England, UK
Died in Hollywood, Los Angeles, California, USA  (suicide by drowning)
Nickname Jimmy

Mini Bio (1)

James Whale was an English film director, theatre director and actor. He is best remembered for his four classic horror films: Frankenstein (1931), The Old Dark House (1932), The Invisible Man (1933) and Bride of Frankenstein (1935). He also directed films in other genres, including what is considered the definitive film version of the musical Show Boat (1936).

In 1931 Universal Pictures signed him to a five-year contract and his first project was Waterloo Bridge (1931). Based on the Broadway play by Robert E. Sherwood, the film starred Mae Clarke. That same year Universal chief Carl Laemmle Jr. offered Whale his choice of any property the studio owned. Whale chose Frankenstein (1931), mostly because none of Universal's other properties particularly interested him and he wanted to make something other than a war picture.

In 1933 Whale directed The Invisible Man (1933), based on the book by H.G. Wells. Shot from a script approved by Wells, the film blended horror with humor and confounding visual effects. It was critically acclaimed, with "The New York Times" listing it as one of the ten best films of the year, and it broke box-office records in cities across America. So highly regarded was the film that France, which restricted the number of theaters in which undubbed American films could play, granted it a special waiver because of its "extraordinary artistic merit". Also in 1933 Whale directed the romantic comedy By Candlelight (1933). He directed Bride of Frankenstein (1935), a sequel of sorts to "Frankenstein", which Whale was somewhat apprehensive about making because he feared being pigeonholed as a horror director. "Bride" hearkened back to an episode from Mary Shelley's original novel in which the Monster promises to leave Frankenstein and humanity alone if Frankenstein makes him a mate. He does, but the mate is repelled by the monster who then, setting Frankenstein and his wife free to live, chooses to destroy himself and his "bride." The film was a critical and box office success. However, his next major project, The Road Back (1937), was a critical and financial disaster, and contributed to his retiring from the film industry in 1941.

Beset by personal, health and professional problems, James Whale committed suicide by drowning himself in the swimming pool of his Pacific Palisades (CA) home on 29 May 1957 at the age of 67. He left a suicide note, which his longtime companion David Lewis withheld until shortly before his own death decades later. Because the note was suppressed, the death was initially ruled accidental.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Pedro Borges (qv's & corrections by A. Nonymoous)

Trade Mark (2)

Darkly comic sense of humor

Trivia (9)

Interred at Forest Lawn, Glendale, California, USA, in the Great Mausoleum, Columbarium of Memory, Niche #20076.
The painful last years of his life in Hollywood, where he was one of the few celebrities to live openly acknowledging his homosexuality, were depicted by Ian McKellen in Gods and Monsters (1998).
Because Whale's status as a director at Universal under the Carl Laemmle regime grew until he was given total control over his films, many of his films carry the credit "A James Whale Production", even though Whale never actually produced his films; the producing chores were always handled by someone else.
Personally responsible for selecting Boris Karloff as Frankenstein's monster.
Biography in: John Wakeman, editor. "World Film Directors, Volume One, 1890-1945". Pages 1197-1202. New York: The H.W. Wilson Company, 1987.
Life partner David Lewis found him dead in Whale's Santa Monica swimming pool; he didn't disclose the suicide note until close to his own death in 1987, leaving Whale's death - up to that time - a mystery.
Retired from making films in 1941, except for an Army training film (Personnel Placement in the Army (1942)) and the unreleased Hello Out There (1949).
Four of his films were nominated for AFI's 100 Years...100 Thrills: Frankenstein (1931), The Invisible Man (1933), Bride of Frankenstein (1935) and The Man in the Iron Mask (1939). "Frankenstein" made the list at #56.
He has directed four films that have been selected for the National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being "culturally, historically or aesthetically" significant: Frankenstein (1931), The Invisible Man (1933), Bride of Frankenstein (1935) and Show Boat (1936).

Personal Quotes (4)

A director must be pretty bad if he can't get a thrill out of war, murder, robbery.
[on Boris Karloff] His face fascinated me. I made drawings of his head, adding sharp bony ridges where I imagined the skull might have joined.
[to Paul Robeson, upon hearing and seeing the "Ol' Man River" sequence in Whale's 1936 film Show Boat (1936)] The spine-chilling effect of that one song was something I shall never forget.
[on Frankenstein (1931)] That queer, penetrating personality of [Boris Karloff]'s was more important than his shape, which could be easily altered.

Salary (1)

Bride of Frankenstein (1935) $2,500 per week

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