Thursday, October 2, 2014

#3 The Bride of Frankenstein

Five minutes into The Bride of Frankenstein we realize that this is not merely a 'part two' of Frankenstein but a pretty concerted effort by the filmmakers to utilize whatever improvement in grand skills they had learned in the few short years since the first film and to up the ante with loads of on-screen personality and stylish, gothic photography.
We first meet Minnie (Una O'connor) who (outside of the slightest bit of fun with the old Baron in film one) is the possibly the first legitimate comedic Franken-foil of the series (makers of Young Frankenstein probably had a field day studying her). She's a legitimate old bat with a cockney swagger but still proves no match for the late-night visiting, smug-face-making, no-time-for-women, alchemist Dr. Pretorius - who carries both the comedy and the villainy loads from the moment of his introduction through the rest of the film. Pretorius forces the all-of-a-sudden sensible Dr. Frankenstein (Colin Clive - filming the movie with broken leg - just prior to his death) back to his stitch-sewing bad habits. Somewhere in this part of the film we find out Lady Frankenstein has possibly had too much Laudanum and is seeing spooks and phantoms in the bedroom fireplace.

Then there' the Dr. Pretorius' 'little people' scene… This bit  is simply baffling, absurd - and is maybe an example of the influence of style on this film exceeding story telling. It's a real head scratcher. Fortunately the alchemy angle from that point on loses favor to Pretorius' outright villainy anyway. The scene would probably have been a better, well-storied, rare outtake for DVDs than eating up screen time. Because they knew about DVDs in the 30's. 

Karloff's monster packs up the baloney sandwiches and goes on the road in this film - making a quick stop in the blind man's cottage, where he learns all about friends, wine, cigars and good, hot food. He also makes it clear that fire pretty much sucks as far as he's concerned. Later he takes his new found indulgences to the crypts where he of course parties down with Pretorius, who is more than happy to share Gene Simmon's favorite drink (Cold Gin - which Pretorius' only weakness apparently). At some point they establish that the monster needs a sexy Franken-mate and that she should look exactly like Mary Shelley for some reason. We also discover that Dr. Pretorius has also invented the telephone. Oh, and the monster can talk now - but he never uses the phone - go figure.. "Hey doc, it's the Monster. I just wanted to give you a quick buzz and say hate living, love dead…"

If much of this sounds like I'm more interesting in goofing on the film than praising it's achievements it's because that is exactly the film this is - an exquisite goof. Visually it is a gothic masterpiece - and the musical score equals the visuals. The characters are cartoonish and the film appears to be edited to a strange pace (mostly at the end). And all of this is why I wouldn't change a thing (well maybe the little-people) - because like the monster and Pretorius, we don't belong to a movie critic's club - we belong dead


  1. The "little people" scene is to demonstrate the differences in technique and to explain why they didn't need to find a brain--Pretorius could grow one. It's one of my favorite scenes. Of course, it also has the delicious conceit of the Devil looking like HIM.

  2. I get that it shows Pretorius w life-creating skills - but it seems he mostly abandons that angle could concentrating mainly on villainy at that point. I would never deny anyone of their favorite scene though..