The Bride of Frankenstein 5.0 stars

Certainly not the only, but perhaps the single greatest, exception to the rule about sequels never surpassing their forerunners. A lively and densely packed hour and a quarter, overrun by an unsuppressed sense of humor, it begins with a one-stormy-night prologue in which the story is resumed by Mary Shelley herself (Elsa Lanchester, who will reappear in the climax as the Bride), and it moves on to a frozen, thawed, and reheated Monster; to a madder scientist than young Dr. Frankenstein, an old buzzardly Dr. Praetorius (the incomparable Ernest Thesiger), with his miniaturized humans and all the best lines; to the violin-playing and cigar-smoking hospitable hermit whom Mel Brooks made such fun of in his less funny Young Frankenstein; and finally to that disastrous bit of laboratory matchmaking and the finger-in-the-electrical-socket hairdo. Music, sets, photography, all pitch in and do their share. With Boris Karloff, Colin Clive, Valerie Hobson, Una O'Connor; directed by James Whale. 1935.

Duncan Shepherd

This movie is not currently in theaters.

Comments

Dragonfly Oct. 31, 2013 @ 9:50 a.m.

Duncan Shepherd faults Rashomon for its "hysterical performances" and The Wizard of Oz for being "held down on the MGM backlot," so why is Bride of Frankenstein, guilty of the same, exempt from criticism? In this film, acting, as we've come to know it, is entirely absent, and nearly every outdoor scene immediately betrays itself as having been filmed within studio walls. Karloff's growling (and later, monosyllabic) monster looks and acts exactly like a man pretending to be a monster, and was rightly mocked by Martin Landau's Bela Lugosi in Ed Wood. There is a subtle thread of humor running throughout, but don't let subtler equate to funnier when comparing this film to Ed Wood or Young Frankenstein. There's a nice bit near the end when the bride is brought to life, with its tilted camera angles, facial close-ups and sparking mad-scientist gear, but that scene lasts only a few minutes before we're back to the histrionics. Bride of Frankenstein is neither funny nor scary, just queer and campy.

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