We continue our series focusing on the classic Hollywood monsters from the Universal Pictures era by taking a look at Frankenstein. Unlike Dracula, where Bela Lugosi basically only played his character in one classic picture, the Englishman Boris Karloff played Frankenstein’s monster in three pictures; two great classics: the original Frankenstein and the sequel The Bride of Frankenstein, and the very good third movie in the series, The Son of Frankenstein.
The basic premise of the first movie was the creation of a man from the body parts of other dead souls. Boris Karloff, actually played Frankenstein’s monster, not Dr. Frankenstein himself. Colin Clive played Dr. Frankenstein who was so drunk with power that he began to think of himself as a god, yet in the end tried to destroy his own creation. However, for most of us, it was Boris Karloff as the Monster who created one of the most single iconic movie performances of all time. Anyone who sees a child puts his arms up and walk with a lumbering stride immediately knows the reference.
What made this performance so iconic? For me it was the pathos that Karloff brought to the role. He imbued the Monster with such a tortured soul that he literally cried out for love and acceptance in a world which was terrified of him. Even the scene from the original movie where he tosses the girl into the lake drove home the humanity that Karloff brought to the role. My suggestion is that you settle in one weekend night for an autumn’s eve of Karloff in the original Frankenstein movies. They are a visual, audio and an intellectual treat for all. Even if you enjoy none of those senses, you can always revert to your childhood and remember the terror he brought the first time you saw the Monster on the screen.
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