“The Bride of Frankenstein” Turns 85

Bride of Frankenstein Promotional Poster

After the great success of the 1931 Frankenstein film, James Whale felt there was nothing more that needed to be added to the story. Universal Pictures on the other hand wanted a sequel so they could capitalize on it’s success. Whale finally agreed after some negotiations and since he did not feel there was any way to top Frankenstein, he took full creative control in molding what would become one of the most iconic pieces in cinema history.

This is my collection of miniature live people…I keep them in jars but they don’t mind…except the King, he really wants that Queen…

It was April 19, 1935 at the RKO Palace in Chicago, Illinois that the earliest public viewing has been documented and from that point one, the film James Whale resisted making at first solidified it’s place in film history. It is my personal opinion that The Bride of Frankenstein is the greatest of the Universal Monster films however this opinion can change based on mood. From the sets to the script, James Whale created a masterpiece transcending the horror genre. Boris Karloff again took on the role of Frankenstein’s Monster in a masterful performance, Colin Clive returned as Henry Frankenstein and Elsa Lanchester took on the roles of both Mary Shelly and the Bride in short but memorable film appearances.

Time for a picnic…this is the perfect location, I will just set up on this casket and take some shots…

It also introduced one of the greatest horror film villains of all time, Dr. Pretorius. What makes him such a great horror film villain is he does not have any supernatural characteristics or freak like conditions, he is just a regular mortal human who personifies evil. Being in the presence of Pretorious and assisting with his evil deeds makes even the most hardened criminals rethink their association as stated by Karl and Ludwig upon leaving the Crypt: “If there’s much more like this, what do you say, pal? We give ourselves up and let ’em hang us.”…” This is no life for murderers.” Henry Frankenstein in the film seems to take on the role of God while Dr. Pretoriums seems to fit the other end of the spectrum. “To a new World of Gods and Monsters. The creation of life is enthralling, distinctly enthralling, is it not?” With these words to Henry Frankenstein, he sums up his vision of the World as being place full of re-animated cadavers controlled and created by himself and Frankenstein. Pretorius has a clear fondness for evil stating “Sometimes I have wondered whether life wouldn’t be much more amusing if we were all devils, and no nonsense about angels and being good.” The delivery and elegance in which Ernest Thesiger exhibits in the role really brings the character to life in a manner that uniquely adds to the evilness of Pretorius in a distinctive way. This is the genius of James Whale. Universal wanted this role to go to Claude Rains but he insisted on casting Thesiger. A decision that stands the test of time. If only someone made a decision to build a film around Pretorius. I think this could have been a successful series of movies to increase the library of the already rich Universal Horror catalog. Sadly, this horror villain was never used again by Universal.

I just showed up unannounced and invited myself in…now lets talk business…

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