James Whale was a set designer and artist who branched into directing. Being something besides a director, he was able to really contribute to "his" movies. His Frankenstein movies, Frankenstein and The Bride of Frankenstein, are quite interesting even now just as people have already said. His version however is not
the "original." I can picture the still of the monster from a pre-WWI silent movie. That look chose snaky hair.
But of all the remakes, the one I think came closest to some of the seriousness of the original novel was the one starring Alec Newman, for the Hallmark Channel, odd as it may sound. I think it was a Halmi production, who are cordially detested on this bbs. But they did justice to Gulliver's Travels too, as I remember.