(1935, directed by James Whale)
- inducted 2015 –
"Bride of Frankenstein might have been the first ever sequel to follow a masterpiece that actually improved upon its
predecessor. James Whale's second Frankenstein film is very much the same type of creature feature as the first, with
striking design work and a campy plot providing plenty of chills and thrills. But it's also a lot more, one of the first science
fiction movies to demonstrate that movies don't need to be about people in order to explore what makes us human.
"It's a highly pleasurable film when taken at face value, providing some of the then-young medium's most compelling moments.
Critics, scholars, and fans have devoted years to extracting various subtexts, particulars in consideration of Whale's personal
life. Whether one prefers an allegorical or literal interpretation, the film's myriad pleasures, ranging from the farcical
to the thrilling, are enough to carry it to greatness.
"The first masterstroke on the film's part is to shift Boris Karloff's iconic Monster into the role of hero, and a tragic
one at that. His performance gives the Monster a pathos not present in the prior installment, and from there he becomes not
just one of cinema's most unforgettable characters, but one of it's most sympathetic. Karloff suffuses the film with a very
real loneliness much more frightening than the mere ghastliness of a creature.
"Not that Bride lacks for wonderful creatures. Elsa Lanchester's Bride has no lines and doesn't appear until the final
moments. So it's a testament to her beautifully bizarre appearance that her Bride is one of cinema's most memorable creations,
compelling by dint of her unforgettable, surreal look, and the heartbreaking moment where she unleashes the bloodcurdling
scream that shatters the poor Monster's last hope for happiness.
"Everyone has seen an image of the Monster and the Bride. But what those who've seen the film remember just as well is the
gentle, tender friendship between the Monster and an elderly hermit. Blind and oblivious to the Monster's physical nature,
the old man recognizes the mutual need for acceptance and companionship. It's the Monster's time with the old man that sets
the emotional stage for the powerhouse finale, and is arguably the highlight of a film filled with stunning moments.
"'To a new world of gods and monsters!' the mad Dr. Pretorius famously proclaims, but he's only partly right. The film's
strongest, most enduring feat is showing that gods and monsters are ultimately as fragile as any mere mortal. This is the
kind of movie that sticks around, one that shows us that even entertaining fantasies can inspires deep, very human sadness.
~ James Frazier
Principal cast: Boris Karloff (as Karloff), Colin Clive, Valerie Hobson, Ernest Thesiger, Elsa Lanchester,
Gavin Gordon, Douglas Walton, Una O’Connor, E.E. Clive, Lucien Prival, O.P. Heggie, Dwight Frye, Reginald Barlow, Mary
Gordon, Anne Darling, Ted Billings, with uncredited appearances by Billy Barty, Walter Brennan, John Carradine
Screenplay by William Hurlbut
Adapted by William Hurlbut and John Balderston
Suggested by the original story written by Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley
Additional uncredited screenplay contributions by Josef Berne, Lawrence G. Blochman, Morton Covan, Robert Florey, Philip MacDonald,
Edmund Pearson, Tom Reed, R.C. Sherriff
Produced by Carl Laemmle, Jr.
Director of photography: John J. Mescall
Art direction by Charles D. Hall
Film editing by Ted Kent
Original music by Franz Waxman
Photographic effects by John P. Fulton
Makeup by Jack P. Pierce (uncredited), Otto Lederer (uncredited)
Hair stylist Irma Kusely (uncredited)
Sound by Gilbert Kurland (uncredited), William Hedgcock (uncredited)
Presented by Carl Laemmle
Duration: 75 minutes
Filmed in black and white
Sound mix: Mono (Western Electric Sound System)
Aspect ratio: 1.37:1
Produced and released in USA by Universal Pictures
Premiered in USA on 22 April 1935
Awards and honors:
- National Film Registry selection, 1998
- Selected as one of Roger Ebert’s “Great Movies,” 3 January 1999
- Academy Awards (USA), 1935: Best Sound, Recording (nominated)