The Ghost of Frankenstein

09/21/2019 08:40

Film: The Ghost of Frankenstein

Year: 1942

Director: Erle C. Kenton

Writer: Scott Darling

Starring: Cedric Hardwicke, Lon Chaney Jr. and Ralph Bellamy

 

Review:

This was a film that I actually didn’t really know a lot about. After college, I got really interested in checking out the Universal Horror films as it was a hole in my viewing history. I sought out a boxset that them in it and started to fill in what I hadn’t seen. This is my second time viewing this one and I really didn’t remember what this one entailed, as they all kind of blended together. The synopsis is when Ygor (Bela Lugosi) brings the Monster (Lon Chaney Jr.) to Dr. Ludwig Frankenstein (Cedric Hardwicke) for care. Ludwig gets the idea of replacing the Monster’s current criminal brain with a normal one.

We start this one in the village of Frankenstein. I don’t really recall if that was actually the name of the village in the first one, but I will let that slide. The townspeople want the castle to be blown up as they think that Ygor is still living there and that the Monster is still around. It then shifts to show us that Ygor is playing a weird horn and is indeed still alive in the castle. They’re allowed to blow it up and when they do, they free the Monster. It is decided to seek out the surviving Frankenstein.

Ludwig is a doctor that works with those with trouble minds. He is working with Dr. Theodore Bohmer (Lionel Atwill) and Dr. Kettering (Barton Yarborough). They have just successfully taken a brain out of a patient, repaired it and placed it back into the head of the patient.

Their peaceful town is turned upside down when The Monster and Ygor arrive. Ygor asks directions to Dr. Frankenstein, but The Monster goes off on his own. He sees some boys bullying a young girl and he decides to help her retrieve her ball on a roof. This freaks out the townspeople, including her father. In the process, a couple of men are killed trying to save her. The Monster is finally taken into custody.

Erik Ernst (Ralph Bellamy) seeks out Dr. Frankenstein and in the process we see that he’s sweet on his daughter, Elsa (Evelyn Ankers). Erik tells the doctor they need him at the courthouse. The doctor states he will once he’s done. Before he can though, he is visited by Ygor who tells him that it is the The Monster in custody.

They are trying to interrogate The Monster, but he won’t speak. It isn’t until the little girl arrives and then Dr. Frankenstein not recognizing that he knows the creature that a reaction occurs. The Monster frees itself and Dr. Frankenstein agrees to take the patient, since it is his family’s fault. His original idea is destroy the creature, until he’s visited by someone with different plans that could alter this monster forever.

Now that I’ve rewatched this, I will admit that I have a much deeper appreciation for it from the first time that I did. There is real interesting concept here being explored. It is brought up that The Monster was made with the brain of a criminal so that is why they think he tends to become violent. Since Ludwig is able to remove the brain and successfully fix as well as replace, they want to do a brain transplant here. It is really an interesting concept to try. This is actually something that we can’t even do today, but I can suspend disbelief. The problem though then becomes Ygor.

I find it interesting that this movie’s title is The Ghost of Frankenstein. There is literally a scene where we see a ghost and it could be considered that stress and overworking could be why Ludwig sees that of his father telling him what he should do. This actually brings me to something I questioned here. We never actually know when this one takes place, but this one came out 10 years after the original. That one Henry had no children yet, but here he’s a full grown man. Now we can assume this one takes place long enough after that original to allow him to be of the age he is and to have an adult daughter as well. It’s been awhile since I watched The Son of Frankenstein, but Ygor and The Monster are considered to be dead from what this movie states in the beginning. I also find it interesting that in The Bride of Frankenstein, The Monster can talk, but he can’t here. I’m not sure if something happened in Son that affected that or not. This is again something that doesn’t ruin this, but I did notice this.

If you’ve read any of my other reviews of films that are from Universal Monster series, they tend to be lacking a bit in the story development. This one doesn’t necessarily fall into that, aside from violating some continuity in order to continue it on here. The runtime is around 67 minutes, so it is really short. It never gets boring and I think that it moves through the plot points. I have an issue that right around the hour mark do they finally complete the big plan and then just kind of ends immediately after. I just wanted a bit more there personally. I should also point out, this is a problem I have with a lot of Frankenstein films.

The acting in this one is really good. Chaney I think does a good take on the The Monster, even though not the biggest fan of replacing actors. He doesn’t talk so that really does help for me not hating it too much. Hardwicke is solid as the doctor. He brings something interesting to this film, especially with what his father did. He does have a moral dilemma to deal with though. Lugosi is solid as the villainous Ygor. He does care about the monster, but he also uses him to his advantage. I would say the rest of the cast does round out the movie for what was needed.

As for the effects here, I don’t really have any issues. This is still fairly early into cinema so there’s not a lot being used. The look of the monster and of Ygor is fine though. We get some lightening bolts that looked solid. They did some film tricks for showing the ghost of Henry, which looked fine as well. I do think that the film is shot well overall.

Now with that said, this isn’t a great film, but I definitely enjoyed it. I do like that even though this one is plagued with a shorter running time; we are giving something new to the story. I like the idea of trying to fix the monster, but Ygor has other plans. There are some slight continuity issues that I noticed, but I can be bit forgiving there. The acting is good across the board. There’s not much in the way of effects, but I really didn’t have any issues there either. I think this is above average and would be a good starter film for younger audiences. I will warn you, this is from the 40’s, so it is in black and white. If that’s an issue, I’d definitely avoid this.

 

My Rating: 7 out of 10