1931 Frankenstein....

Discussion in 'Science Fiction & Fantasy' started by Warped9, Sep 25, 2010.

  1. Warped9

    Warped9 Admiral Admiral

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    Believe it or not until this evening I've never seen the original 1931 Frankenstein. I ordered it from Amazon and just finished watching it.

    An interesting experience. In all candor I find it a bit creaky and awkward. Much of the acting is stiff and unconvincing. But Karloff is definitely the reason this film works. From when we're first introduced to him to the very last frame of him I felt nothing but sympathy for the monster. Without a word Karloff outclasses everyone in the film, no question.

    I'm glad I finally got to see it and now have it in my dvd library.

    Next up I want to see the 1931 Dracula and 1941 The Wolf Man
     
    Last edited: Sep 25, 2010
  2. Greg Cox

    Greg Cox Admiral Premium Member

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    You should definitely check out the sequel, BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN, which is even better. (And there are no creaky scenes between Mae Clarke and John Boles.)
     
  3. Warped9

    Warped9 Admiral Admiral

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    Yes, I intend to. I've got it on my list.
     
  4. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Also, unlike the original film, Bride actually has a musical score. In 1931, they hadn't yet developed the means to dub additional audio tracks onto film, so there was no music unless it was performed live on the set. By the time of the second film, the technology had advanced to the point that music could be tracked onto a film, and Bride of Frankenstein boasts a classic, famous score by Franz Waxman, which was reused in the Buster Crabbe Flash Gordon and Buck Rogers adventure serials.
     
  5. Warped9

    Warped9 Admiral Admiral

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    Sometimes certain things can work better without musical accompaniment and sometimes it's the reverse. I have seen films where I thought something was needed to help set mood and atmosphere and other times I thought it would work better without. In Frankenstein's case I don't think it's really hurt by lack of a score. I think its absence actually adds to the atmosphere.
     
  6. Starbreaker

    Starbreaker Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    Frankenstein is a great film. I've got the set of the first six Frankenstein films, but this one is a classic.
     
  7. Too Much Fun

    Too Much Fun Commodore Commodore

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    I don't like the first "Frankenstein" movie much, but the sequel is a huge deal to me. It is my favourite 'older' movie, and opened my eyes to a whole new world of movies by making me realize more than any other oldie I've seen that films made before I was born could be just as relevant and moving as modern ones. It's beautifully shot and acted. I was shocked that a movie made so long ago could be so mesmerizing and make me tear up.

    I was very disappointed with "Dracula". Every moment of Bela Lugosi's performance was captivating and he's completely worthy of his legendary status, but I think that movie is severely hobbled by the constraints of film making at the time. It has one of the most pathetically anti-climactic climaxes I've ever seen. Still worth watching for the incredible atmosphere, direction, and lead performance, but the ending was a huge letdown.
     
  8. Warped9

    Warped9 Admiral Admiral

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    Once in a while an older film does bump up against the limitations of the time it was made. And occasionally a film still shines because it manages to not be hampered by such limitations.

    This makes me think of some superhero films. Much of of we've been getting lately would really have been scaled back drastically or even impossible before. The 1978 Superman was just barely able to get by and even that shows the limitations of the day. Spider-Man and Iron Man and Hulk would have been impossible to do before they were done.
     
  9. Forbin

    Forbin Admiral Admiral

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    If I may move the genre slightly sideways, I also recommend "Tarzan and his Mate," which I find amazingly more compelling than the original Weismuller Tarzan film. Plus, ya know, Maureen O'Sullivan has that little nude scene. :D
     
  10. Greg Cox

    Greg Cox Admiral Premium Member

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    Yeah, the 1931 DRACULA has aged very badly--and that's coming from one of the world's biggest vampire freaks. It's an incredibly creaky, stagebound production redeemed by a great cast: not just Lugosi, but also Edward Van Sloan and Dwight Frye.

    To be fair, the early Transylvania scenes are nicely creepy and atmospheric, but once Dracula gets to London, the movie turns into the old Balderston-Deane stageplay and gets incredibly static. The whole middle of the movie is pretty much a chamber-room drama, with the characters standing around talking about all the interesting things happening offstage. "Look! Out the window! I just saw a wolf running across the lawn!"

    Granted, the Carfax Abbey sets at the ends are pretty cool, and the Renfield's death is nicely staged.

    P.S. The 1931 Spanish-language version, which was filmed simultaneously with the Lugosi version, is livelier and arguably better directed. And the actress who plays Lucy wears a much skimpier negligee!

    Alas, the guy playing Dracula in the Spanish version is no Lugosi.
     
    Last edited: Sep 25, 2010
  11. Warped9

    Warped9 Admiral Admiral

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    The edition of Frankenstein I have is the 75th anniversary edition with a few lengthy documentaries and it does elaborate on the Spanish version.

    Slightly OT, but has anyone here ever seen The Black Cat with Karloff and Legosi?

    Alas Frankenstein is like anything else in that everyone will have a different take on it. The Bram's Stoker's Dracula from several years ago wasn't that great, but visually it really did evoke the original book for me. I also recall a television production of Frankenstein in the early '70s that I recall as being decent although it bears little resemblance to anything else. I'm still not sure what to make of Robert De Niro's version.
     
  12. Greg Cox

    Greg Cox Admiral Premium Member

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    THE BLACK CAT is a seriously weird and kinky movie, especially for the 1930's. It's easily the best and most fascinating of the Karloff/Lugosi collaborations, and definitely worth checking out.

    It's also interesting in that Karloff is basically playing a sinister Lugosi-like character and Lugosi is playing a tormented, sympathetic Karloff-like character. It's like they're both playing each other's role!

    One warning: Don't be fooled by the title. The movie has absolutely nothing to do with Poe!
     
    Last edited: Sep 25, 2010
  13. Warped9

    Warped9 Admiral Admiral

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    ^^ Thanks for the recommendation.
     
  14. propita

    propita Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Try watching Young Frankenstein--they use a lot of the same sets and there's more laughs. A lot more laughs.
     
  15. Greg Cox

    Greg Cox Admiral Premium Member

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    No problem. I grew up on those old Universal films. I love talking about them.
     
  16. RJDiogenes

    RJDiogenes Idealistic Cynic and Canon Champion Premium Member

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    I love all the old Universal Monster movies, even the later not-so-great ones. My favorite is Wolf Man. Larry Talbot is such a tragic character and Lon Chaney Jr is amazing in the role.
     
  17. Warped9

    Warped9 Admiral Admiral

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    I'm looking forward to this one. I've got it on order.

    I like quite a few older films. I don't judge them strictly by current standards, but more what it seems they were trying to achieve. And some of them still work well even by today's standards. I also like to see things as they began and before they became cliches.
     
  18. Kelso

    Kelso Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Agreed!

    I go through my Universal Monster Legacy set at least once per year.
     
  19. Warped9

    Warped9 Admiral Admiral

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    In the 2-disc version I have there's a documentary about the horror movies of Universal. One film mentioned (I think it was a silent film) was something called The Laughing Man or something like that. This man is disfigured since childhood with a permanent grin on his face. But what really struck me every time I looked at him was that he was a dead ringer for the Joker in Batman. I couldn't help but wonder if by some slim chance this was an inspiration for the Joker's appearance.
     
  20. Greg Cox

    Greg Cox Admiral Premium Member

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    You're right on target. According to Bob Kane and others, the Joker was at least partially inspired by Conrad Veidt in THE MAN WHO LAUGHS . . ..
     

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