FRANKENSTEIN (1931)


1931

3/10

DIRECTOR: James Whale

May Contain Spoilers!

November 1931 saw the release of Frankenstein, but this apparently bears a greater resemblance to the 1920’s stage play version penned by Peggy Webling, rather than Mary Shelly’s source novel. James Whale is a strange director. Unlike Tod Browning’s, Dracula from earlier that same year, this is a much more exuberant and over played piece.

When I first saw the Whale’s, The Invisible Man from 1933, I was unsure whether it was supposed to be a comedy or a horror? This was clearly a horror, but with characters such as Baron Frankenstein, his father, played for laughs, the tone seemed to be little mixed or maybe even confused.

The stage roots are clear, as this wasn’t far removed. As an early sound film, it seems clear that little consideration was taken as how it sounded, just that it recorded, as the audio was that of a sound stage, echoing and clanging throughout. Overall, I found Colin Clive’s portrayal of Henry Frankenstein to be way, way overblown, though a little fun, granted.

Boris Karlof’s, The Monster was fine, effective as both victim and aggressor, but the tone was shifting throughout. It’s a product of its time and scary it isn’t by today’s standards. It is so farcical it’s not even creepy in old black and white. Though I accept that in context of early 30’s cinema, and the fact that it is clearly so well-regarded,  I still cannot say that I liked this.

I’m glad that I’ve seen this as so much of this film has found its way into popular culture, such as Frankenstein’s famous line, “It’s Alive!” etc…, but it barely entertained me and had very simple and low production values at times, but excelled at others such as the make up effects. So, probably a good film, but it just can’t see why.

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