Sunday, December 27, 2009

56. Frankenstein (1931)

Running Time: 70 minutes
Directed By: James Whale
Written By: John L. Balderston, Francis Edward Faragoh, Garrett Fort, from play by Peggy Webling and novel by Mary Shelley
Main Cast: Boris Karloff, Colin Clive, Mae Clarke, Edward Van Sloan, John Boles, Dwight Frye


I hope anyone out there who is a reader of my blog had a very Merry Christmas. I sure did and while the traditions and fun of my family has passed, I return to the book and my journey through the "1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die". Just finished watching "Frankenstein" about an hour ago and liked it much more this time around, than the previous time I watched this film, about two years ago.

Henry Frankenstein (Clive) is an eager young scientist who breaks away from his mentor and teacher to pursue his own experiments, most importantly trying to bring what was once dead, back to life. Actually, in this particular case, Henry tries bringing something that has never lived to life. After Henry and his assistant Fritz go around collecting freshly buried corpses and hung criminals, they sew together various parts, from various cadavers and build a human being. All that they lack is a brain and when Fritz goes to the local university to fetch one, he accidentally returns to Henry's castle with an abnormal brain and thus the tale of Frankenstein is set into motion. As you can probably guess, Henry's experiment is a success, as he uses a lightning storm to bring his makeshift human being to life and the Monster is born (played with creepiness by Karloff).

Henry keeps the Monster locked up in a closet and when his fiance, his mentor and his best friend come looking for him, the eventually talk him into returning home. The professor, Dr. Waldman reassures Henry that he'll take care of the Monster. Henry leaves the castle with his fiance and friend and returns to his home so that he can marry. The professor however underestimates the Monster and ends up allowing it to escape. Now with the Monster on the lam, the possibilities for the climax of this picture are endless and everything you can imagine probably happens to Harry and his Monster as this picture reaches it's grand conclusion.

There are so many memorable shots and scenes in this film: the Monster connecting with a little girl and with good intentions, accidentally drowning her, the moment when we first see Karloff as the Monster, with his back to the camera he turns around to reveal his hideous figure, the gorgeous shot as the Monster and his creator square off atop a hill in the films final moments and the final moment of the film, with the Monster trapped inside a windmill, as it is set ablaze by an posse that has been formed to find him and, if need be, kill him. This movie proves to me that you always need to give a movie at least two chances, because if you watch a film for the first time and don't like it, well then, maybe you weren't in the mood for it or maybe you had other things on your mind. I remember watching "Frankenstein" back in January of 2008 and hating it, however, this time I thought it was very watchable and very good. Despite its age, it still holds up as a great horror flick and something that would be lots of fun to take in around Halloween time (along with Dracula - 1931).

RATING: 6.5/10 Not a perfect rating, but certainly better than I remembered it and still a very good film.

NEXT UP: City Lights...More Chaplin, for which I am excited. Review should be up tomorrow.

December 27, 2009 12:00am

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