Tag Archives: Bride of Frankenstein

Frankenstein 1970

There are few verities in this world, but I know of some; death, taxes, and there’ll always be a Frankenstein film I haven’t seen.

This is one.

Tonight I remedied that omission.

Ugh.

Many think Boris Karloff played Frankenstein in the best known film of Mary Shelley’s amazing story. Not true. Mr. Karloff played the monster created by Baron Frankenstein. It was not until this 1958 film that he actually played someone in the Frankenstein family, a descendant of the baron, facing a future of dwindling funds, who rents out the stark Frankenstein manse to a documentary film crew that resembles the film crew in ED WOOD.

I usually enjoy Mr. Karloff’s performances, but in this case Messiers Clive and Cushing did it better.

Having consistently watched more than the recommended daily dose of mad scientist flicks, I’ve acquired a dubious expertise in movie laboratory sets. This film’s iteration features bank after bank of consoles of dials and switches and gauges…very like a low-budget version of Dr. No’s lab. It lacks one of those lightning producing orbs that are dear to my heart, but it does have some dripping tubing in various places that suggest that somewhere there’s some fine bourbon bein’ born. There’s also a contraption that looks like a cross between an MRI and a crematorium…and an EZ-Bake oven… smokin’ up the joint. All-in-all, I’d give the lab an 85. It was easy to dance to.

Oh. On the audio side of production, the lab has the capability of disposing of human bodies. When it’s employed, it does so with the distinct sound effect of a toilet being flushed. I can only imagine how that was received in 1950’s movie houses. I can only imagine the glee of the movie critics of the day.

On the positive side…

There’s a moment early in the film that shows us three members of the film crew framed in front of a large, gothic fireplace. It recalled to me the opening scene in THE BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN with the Shelleys and mad, bad Lord Byron. It may have been accidental, but I prefer to think the director and writers were paying homage.

Eventually we arrive in a ludicrous confrontation between a mummyishly-bandaged monster and a beret-wearing cameraman in a cave with a perfectly flat Hollywood cave floor (are there any other kind?)

I simply wouldn’t have any other way.

Dreamin’ on Poverty Row

Movie Night!

I’ve been watching a number of films made in the 1930’s by studios of which I’ve barely heard; Chesterfield, Invincible, Allied, Mayfair, Imperial-Cameo, et al. These were low-low-low-budget operations that I see described as “poverty row pictures”.

These films have flimsy sets. Sometimes rooms are simply indicated by a pool of light and a cloth background. Sometimes the sets (and the scripts) are recognizable as recycling efforts from other films (i.e. the village depicted in Chesterfield’s Condemned to Live looks remarkably like the village in The Bride of Frankenstein or Son of Frankenstein).

I suppose the costumes are cheap as well, but they look pretty sweet to me. People in these films dress for dinner. The ladies wear evening gowns and heels whether they’re night-clubbing or traipsing around secret caves with perfectly flat, dirt floors. The gents all wear sharp suits, ties, and snappy hats. And they know how to use their suits! These guys could say more with how they removed their hats than they possibly could with the cheesy dialogue they were probably given to memorize the morning of the shoot.

And cocktails! Ubiquitous at any occasion or time of day!! For any reason or no reason at all!!!

I’m thinkin’ I shoulda been around in the thirties workin’ at a speakeasy in a sharp suit, tie, and a snappy hat…crackin’ wise wit’ de clientele.

Fortunes coulda been made.

Sharp suits…

…snappy hats…

…secret caves…

…cheesy things to say…

…sigh.