The Bride of Frankenstein
the bride of frankenstein | james whale | frankenstein | william hurlbut | john l. balderston | boris karloff | elsa lanchester | colin clive | based on | novel | comedy | drama | sci-fi | sci fi | united states | una o'connor | sequel | mary shelley
Film: Bride of Frankenstein
Director: James Whale
Writer: William Hurlbut and John L. Balderston
Starring: Boris Karloff, Elsa Lanchester and Colin Clive
Growing up I didn’t really see any of the Universal classics. I had a thing against black-and-white horror films back then and my parents weren’t really fans either. My love for old cinema started in college when I took my film classes and it really changed my mind. I sought this film out as part of a box set with all of the Frankenstein. The synopsis for this one is Mary Shelley (Elsa Lanchester) reveals the main character of her novel survived: Dr. Frankenstein (Colin Clive) goaded by an even madder scientist builds his monster a mate.
This film begins with a prologue with Mary Shelley along with her husband Percy Bysshe Shelley (Douglas Walton) and Lord Byron (Gavin Gordon). It is storming outside and Lord Byron goads her into telling a scary story. She reveals there is more to Frankenstein.
We are then back at the windmill that was set on fire and it has burned down. The body of Dr. Henry Frankenstein, the creator of the monster has been found and they believe him to be dead. They are taking him back to the castle where his fiancé is waiting. The monster isn’t found and Minnie (Una O’Connor) wants them to keep searching. The Burgomaster (E.E. Clive) tells everyone to go home. The monster (Boris Karloff) isn’t dead, but there was an underground cavern. He emerges and flees into the countryside.
We then go to Castle Frankenstein. The body of Henry is placed on a table and his fiancé Elizabeth (Valerie Hobson) comes to look at him. The sheet is removed and everyone starts mourning. Minnie ends back up at the castle and she is the first one to realize that he’s not dead. Henry wakes up and taken up to his bed.
The monster continues through the countryside where he continues to wreck havoc. It isn’t trying to, but the monster doesn’t know any better. It does get arrested, but the chains can’t hold him back. He does end up meeting a blind man who teaches him things. That comes to an end and he ends up meeting Dr. Pretorius, who enlists his aid in convincing Henry of what needs to be done.
This would be my third viewing of the film, with the last two in the theater. I do have to say that I have enjoyed this film with these last two viewings. I think coming in at first, I had some lofty expectations that it didn’t live up to. With those out of the way, I know can really appreciate what this film does.
Something I really liked about this film is that they continued where the previous one left off, with just some minor changes. They didn’t return all of the same actors, but I will let that slide for this film. I also enjoyed this one took parts of the novel that were left out of the previous film and used it in this one. Examples of this are when the monster learns how to talk, even though it is different in the novel. I think how it is presented here is believable. The idea of creating a mate is also something that is in the original novel as well, but it is the monster’s idea.
Now this film does have some issues though. One that I really didn’t like was the fact that the bride is not created until the very end of the film and then there is something that happens to end the film immediately. I would have liked them to do it a little earlier and had used her more. This is actually very common for films in the era though.
I will say that the pacing of the film was good, but mostly because of the low running time. Much like its predecessor, it moves through the story pretty rapidly I think if they could’ve come up with a sub-plot or two to deepen the story, it might have helped build a bit of tension. That is something that this one is lacking for me to be honest. I still enjoy it, but really the only the fear of Henry has for the monster that forces him to work. I’m not the biggest fan of the ending as I feel it’s just too abrupt.
The acting for this film was really good. Many films from the era though really did come with strong acting from what I can tell. Karloff is great as the monster. He can convey so much with saying so little and learning to talk is similar to a child. Which makes sense as it has only been alive for a couple of days. Clive is also as the mad doctor. I like that he is tottering on losing his sanity from the start, keeping in line with his character. Hobson was solid in her role as well as being quite attractive for the era. I loved Thesiger as the villain. He fit the role so well and is quite dastardly. I would have liked to see more Lanchester. I will say the rest of the cast rounded out the film for what was needed.
Something else from the era is the lack of effects. That is mostly because cinema was still relevantly new. I actually don’t care for the look of the monster, but I did like the look of the bride though. It is more in line with the novel there. This one also seems to have a higher body count. We don’t know if anyone dies that the film seems to claim does, but there is a lot of possibility to that. It is also shot very well.
With that said, I would recommend this film to be viewed. The acting is very good and this one holds up well as a sequel to the original. I liked that they kept the continuity of the story and didn’t add anything that would alter or make something that happen in the previous not make sense. I also liked that they brought up a couple more aspects from the novel not used in the previous film. I will warn you that it is from the 1930s and is in black-and-white. If that is an issue, I would avoid this film. If not, this is a solid film that can be viewed by itself thanks to the prologue, or watched in the series of Frankenstein/Universal horror film series.
My Rating: 7.5 out of 10