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Frankenstein (1931)

Not Rated | | Drama, Horror, Sci-Fi | 21 November 1931 (USA)
1:39 | Trailer

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An obsessed scientist assembles a living being from parts of exhumed corpses.



(based upon the composition by), (from the novel by) (as Mrs. Percy B. Shelley) | 4 more credits »
4,647 ( 859)
4 wins & 3 nominations. See more awards »



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Complete credited cast:
The Monster (as ?)


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 <chainsaw@intouch.bc.ca>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


To have seen it is to wear a badge of courage! See more »


Drama | Horror | Sci-Fi


Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:



Official Sites:




Release Date:

21 November 1931 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Dr. Frankenstein  »


Box Office


$291,000 (estimated)

Gross USA:

See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.20 : 1
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Did You Know?


After bringing the monster to life, Dr. Frankenstein uttered the famous line, "Now I know what it's like to BE God!" The movie was originally released with this line of dialogue, but when it was re-released in the late '30s, censors demanded it be removed on the grounds that it was blasphemy. A loud clap of thunder was substituted on the soundtrack. The dialogue was partially restored on the video release, but since no decent recording of the dialogue could be found, it still appears garbled and indistinct. The censored dialog was partially returned to the soundtrack in the initial "restored version" releases. Further restoration has now completely brought back this line of missing dialog. A clean recording of the missing dialog was reportedly found on a Vitaphone disc (similar to a large phonograph record). Modern audio technology had to be used to insert the dialog back into the film without any detectable change in the audio quality. See more »


As Dr. Frankenstein and Fritz are walking up to where the dead man is hanging, there is a jump cut, and they are farther up the path then they should be. See more »


[first lines]
Dr. Henry Frankenstein: Down! Down, you fool!
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Crazy Credits

In the opening credits: The Monster - ? See more »


Referenced in The Real Ghostbusters: Transylvanian Homesick Blues (1987) See more »


Grand Appassionato
Music by Giuseppe Becce
[End title & end cast music]
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

A classic monster film that is splendid even—or especially—for the "Star Wars" generation
11 December 2006 | by See all my reviews

Count me as one member of the "Star Wars" generation who as a teenager loved this movie at first sight and has watched it with renewed pleasure a dozen times since. A small but loyal number of movie fans my age and younger feel the same way about "Frankenstein" (and other Universal Horror pictures); but for those struggling to appreciate it I offer a few suggestions.

Cast your mind back to 1931 and imagine that you—like the audiences at the time—are seeing the now overfamiliar monster makeup for the first time. You probably haven't read the Mary Shelley novel on which the film is based; and you've never seen one of the stage productions based on the novel. This is a fresh experience for you. You don't know what the monster is going to look like and you don't know what it's going to do.

Don't take the film for granted. We live in pedantic times when sci-fi fanboys complain that it's unrealistic for Spider-Man to spin webs from his own physiognomy rather than from metal contraptions as in the comic books; that the actress playing Storm in "X-Men" is the wrong shade of black. In this age of irrelevant concerns, "Frankenstein" can't hope to survive our dull-witted scrutiny; so don't be like the mob. The film's many defects are minor, easily ignored, and sometimes part of the fun. In some ways it is technically crude, but director James Whale and his crew have a sense of artistry and a knack for storytelling that surpass that of most modern filmmakers. Props and hand gestures frequently change between shots, giving the film the weird beauty and stitched-together quality of the monster himself. John Boles and Mae Clarke (as Henry Frankenstein's friend and fiancée respectively) are dull and stiff. Some plot details are implausible: Why doesn't Dr. Frankenstein notice that he's using an inferior brain? Why does the script insist that the brain is a criminal one at all when it's clear that the monster means no one any harm—at least before people attack him? The final scene is irritating. It's an attempt to end on a light-hearted note for those too easily frightened and upset by unpleasantness.

Use your imagination. Modern movies have dulled our ability to know a profoundly disturbing tale when we see one, unless buckets of blood and gore are hurled at us. Remember this is the story of a scientist who brings to life a dead body created from pieces of human corpses; it's the story of a creator who betrays his own creature, condemning him to a short life of being hated and reviled. If this story inspires no fear or pity in you, you've lost your ability to feel.

Boris Karloff as the Monster is worth a thousand CGI monsters; his pitiful reaction to seeing light for the first time would be unforgettable in a movie one-tenth this good. Colin Clive (as Henry Frankenstein) has a rich, musical voice and an intense concentration that makes his performance as alive as Frankenstein's creation. Weird and wonderful support is provided by Dwight Frye as the hunchbacked assistant and Edward Van Sloan as Frankenstein's former professor.

If you believe this film is inferior to more modern movies, I would only half-agree with you: "Bride of Frankenstein," released four years later, is even better than the original.

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