Frankenstein (1931)

Like Dracula, Universal’s Frankenstein hailed less from the original novel than it did the stage version from Hamilton Deane and other hands, and like Dracula it has a few noticeable plot holes and other problems. But damn me if it isn’t a much better film, as I suspect it always has been; it seems to have a lot fewer problems overcoming the obviousness of its theatrical origins, and it’s vastly less timid about its material (brains in jars, dwarfs hanging, children drowning, none of this off-camera anticlimax shite). Also, director James Whale was clearly much more in tune with the story he was filming than Tod Browning and/or Karl Freund was/were on Dracula; there’s a much stronger feeling of the people responsible for the film actually caring about it. If original director Robert Florey really did have the original idea to go for an expressionist style, Whale went with it brilliantly, and I think we should be thankful that Bela Lugosi was passed over for the creature’s role… Karloff now just seems so eminently right just as Lugosi was right for Dracula, it’s hard to imagine the film having worked so well any other way. I’ll take this over a hundred other more prestigious and “respectable” Hollywood films of that decade any time…

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