‘Frankenstein’: James Whale’s Macabre Take on One of the Most Sympathetic Characters Ever Created in the World of English Letters

 
By Koraljka Suton

Look! It’s moving. It’s alive. It’s alive… It’s alive, it’s moving, it’s alive, it’s alive, it’s alive, it’s alive, IT’S ALIVE! This has got to be one of the most iconic movie quotes of all time, regardless of whether the person doing the quoting has even seen the film it originates from. Such is the power of James Whale’s 1931 feature Frankenstein, which managed to stand the test of time, with imagery (including the physical appearance of Frankenstein’s monster) that remained recognizable and deeply ingrained into the very fabric of our collective subconscious even almost nine decades after the picture’s original release. Another testament to the movie’s cultural significance lies in the fact that it was neither the first nor the last re-imagining of Mary Shelley’s 1818 novel Frankenstein; or, the Modern Prometheus, but it is one that would set a new standard for the horror genre, offering a vast array of future monster movie tropes. The aforementioned first adaptation was a 1910 feature called Frankenstein produced by the Edison Manufacturing Company, with the second one being a lost 1915 film titled Life Without Soul, produced by Ocean Film Corp. Another unsuccessful attempt at bringing the Monster to life was Il Mostro di Frankenstein, a 1920 Italian version directed by Eugenio Testa, which also ended up lost. It was ultimately Whale who managed to successfully re-animate the corps and succeed in turning it into a star. But much like Tom Browning’s 1931 movie Dracula, Whale’s Frankenstein was in fact not based on the original novel—which accounts for the numerous differences between the two—but rather on a stage play version of the novel. Entitled Frankenstein: An Adventure in the Macabre, Peggy Webling’s play was also the first adaptation that named the Monster after its creator, which eventually led to a common misconception that the titular character is indeed the Monster itself.

But this misconception should not come as a surprise, seeing as how Boris Karloff, the man who stepped into the Monster’s heavy boots in Whale’s Frankenstein, stole the show much to the producers’ surprise, and mesmerized audiences with his layered portrayal of Doctor Frankenstein’s misunderstood und abused creature. It could be said that the titular character ended up playing second fiddle to its creation—it was the Monster that everyone wanted, resulting in it becoming synonymous with the name ‘Frankenstein.’ But Karloff was never the first pick for the soon-to-be iconic role.

After the success of Browning’s Dracula, Universal got the screen rights to Frankenstein. Dracula screenwriter Garrett Fort joined the project and wrote the first draft of the screenplay, assuming that Robert Florey would direct and that Hungarian actor and Dracula-star Bela Lugosi would take on the leading role—the one of Frankenstein, not the Monster. In Florey’s initial vision, more screen time was to be given to Doctor Henry Frankenstein (Victor, in Shelley’s novel), considering the fact that he should have been played by the famous Lugosi, whereas the Monster was to be reduced to a murderous ogre without any inkling of humanity. But the studio’s producer Carl Laemmle Jr. had other plans and wanted Lugosi to portray the Monster. Lugosi did some test footage in makeup that didn’t go quite as planned (Laemmle Jr. “laughed like a hyena” when he saw it) and reportedly said the following: “I was a star in my country and I will not be a scarecrow over here!” Some sources claim he went on to reject the part, while others suggest he was fired, along with director Florey. Luckily, James Whale, Laemmle Jr.’s favorite who had directed two adaptations of wartime melodramas (Journey’s End and Waterloo Bridge), stepped in, along with screenwriter Francis Edward Faragoh. In the role of Frankenstein, openly gay director Whale cast Colin Clive (his leading man in Journey’s End, both the play and the movie) because of “his tenacity on screen” and also for a “romantic quality which makes strong men leave civilization to shoot big game.” Since Whale had sufficient experience in working with Clive, he knew how to guide him into combining Frankenstein’s excesses with authentic truth. Sadly, the actor died merely 6 years later—unlike Whale, he didn’t manage to live his homosexuality openly, resulting in inner conflict which led to chronic alcoholism that ultimately took his life.

 
As far as Frankenstein’s creature was concerned, Whale had an entirely different vision for it, stating that while Lugosi was scary and could scare audiences, the Monster was, in his view, “also scared.” Whale’s lover, producer David Lewis, noticed the 43-year-old B-movie actor known as Boris Karloff and recommended him to Whale. Born William Henry Pratt, the English actor changed his name to Boris Karloff—with the first name being a random inspiration, and the last a family name on his mother’s side. By 1931, he had already acted in more than 70 movies and was nowhere near his big break yet. Getting cast in Frankenstein soon changed his fortune.

With the help of make-up artist Jack Pierce, who had also done Dracula’s look, Karloff was immortalized as the Monster. Pierce had spent three months researching the Monster’s look, studying surgery, criminology, burial customs, anatomy, medicine, electrodynamics and criminal history before even beginning to apply make-up to Karloff—a process that lasted five hours every day, not counting the two hours it took to remove all of it. Pierce reshaped Karloff’s skull with layers of collodion and cotton, covering it with gray-green greasepaint with purple shadows and clipped on neck bolts and staples. Thanks to Karloff’s suggestion, they also added a layer of wax on his eyelids and the actor took out a dental bridge, the result being a sunken cheek. In Pierce’s own words: “I figured that Frankenstein, who was a scientist but no practicing surgeon, would take the simplest surgical way. He would cut the top of the skull off straight across like a pot lid, hinge it, pop the brain in, and then clamp it on tight. That’s the reason I decided to make the Monster’s head square and flat like a shoe box and dig that big scar across his forehead with the metal clamps holding it together.” Surprisingly enough, Karloff’s performance was severely underappreciated by the studio executives—they agreed that he was scary, but weren’t aware of just how powerful his portrayal was. As a result, they didn’t find it necessary to invite him to the movie’s premiere. But their judgement was soon proven wrong by audiences. On the one hand, a number of viewers were reportedly horrified upon seeing him on the silver screen, leading to them fleeing the theater in fear. On the other, Universal received countless letters meant for Karloff, all of them exhibiting sympathy for the Monster, offering him “help and friendship.” Karloff described it as “one of the most moving experiences of my life.”

Although the Monster’s portrayal was significantly different in Shelley’s novel, its sympathetic core had remained the same, prompting such a heartfelt response from audience members. Both the novel and the movie center around a young doctor obsessed with building a man out of body parts and bringing him to life. But Shelley’s Monster, after its initial confusion, eventually becomes educated and articulate, learns several different languages, indulges in lengthy philosophical debates with Frankenstein himself, questions the meaning and purpose of its own existence and gives an in-depth commentary on social issues. It could easily be said that Shelley delivered her personal social and political commentary through the filter of her own creation. In the same way that the Monster served as a spokesperson for Shelley’s own views did its movie counterpart—as some argue—represent Whale, who also longed for understanding and acceptance, especially considering the fact that he was openly gay in a period where that was both a rarity and a risk. But unlike Shelley’s novel, Whale’s movie portrays the Monster as uttering no words. He is more like a child trapped inside the body of a giant who grunts and gestures, while trying to make sense out of what is happening to it and why people are treating it in a cruel and inhumane manner. The uncredited screenwriter John Russell added a scene to the final version of the script, in which Frankenstein’s assistant Fritz (Dwight Frye), after breaking into the university building to steal a brain for the Doctor’s creation, accidentally drops the “normal” human brain and is therefore reduced to taking the only other brain left—one supposedly belonging to a criminal. This not only makes Henry seem like far less of a plotting evil genius and for more of an obsessed, mad scientist who relies on his inapt assistant, but also does something interesting for the character of the Monster. Although the movie script has given him a murderer’s brain, it does not succumb to the cliché of portraying the Monster as inherently evil and vile. Quite the contrary—Karloff’s character kills only in self-defense, when threatened and abused, or accidentally, out of pure ignorance. His actions are, therefore, not a product of his nature, i.e. the circumstances of his creation, but rather of nurture, i.e. the experiences he accumulated during his short but trauma-ridden life. Therein lies the real tragedy of Frankenstein’s monster.

 
Ironically enough, one of the most crucial scenes that convey the Monster’s sensitivity and child-like innocence was cut from the movie upon its original release, because it was deemed too shocking. But the implications of the character’s actions without the context of that deleted scene ultimately proved to be far more gruesome and macabre. It is, of course, the scene in which the Monster accidentally drowns the village girl Maria (Marilyn Harris) by throwing her into a lake, thinking that she would float just like the flowers they threw together onto the lake’s surface mere seconds before. But with the scene cut, what follows after the image of the Monster’s hand reaching for Maria is a scene of her father carrying her dead body, implying that she had been either raped, intentionally and brutally murdered, or both. Luckily, the scene was later reinstated. But the Maria-scene was not the only controversy surrounding the movie. In the scene where Frankenstein discovers that his experiment was successful, his friend Victor shouts: “Henry, in the name of God!” and Henry exclaims: “In the name of God? Now I know what it feels like to be God!” After receiving criticism that the scene is blasphemous, the track was deleted and covered with a crack of thunder. The lines were returned to the movie in the age of home video. But knowing all too well that the central theme of man daring to play God would not strike a chord with religious groups, the studio filmed a “warning” with which the film opens. In it, Edward Van Sloan (who portrays Dr. Waldman) delivers a speech as himself, stating the following: “How do you do? Mr. Carl Laemmle feels it would be a little unkind to present this picture without just a friendly word of warning: We are about to unfold the story of Frankenstein, a man of science who sought to create a man after his own image without reckoning upon God. It is one of the strangest tales ever told. It deals with the two great mysteries of creation: life and death. I think it will thrill you. It may shock you. It might even horrify you. So, if any of you feel that you do not care to subject your nerves to such a strain, now’s your chance to uh, well,—we warned you!”

And warned we rightfully were. With its creativity, atmosphere and setting which were clearly influenced by German Expressionism, particularly films such as Das Kabinett des Dr. Caligari (1919), Der Golem (1915) and Metropolis (1927), Whale’s Frankenstein paved the way for future horror features, furthering the ideas of a mad scientist, his Igor-like sidekick, the damsel in distress attacked by a monster, and the angry locals. When asked why he decided to do Frankenstein, Whale responded: “Of 30 available stories, it was the strongest meat and gave me a chance to dabble in the macabre. I thought it would be amusing to try and make what everybody knows as a physical impossibility seem believable. Also, it offered fine pictorial chances, had two grand characterizations, and had a subject matter that might go anywhere, and that’s part of the fun of making pictures.” And without Whale’s vision and Karloff’s gripping portrayal of “one of the most sympathetic characters ever created in the world of English letters,” as Karloff himself referred to Frankenstein’s creature, the now-iconic horror movie character would have been reduced to an entirely inhumane killing machine. Whale and Karloff created a monster—and we as the audience sympathized with it every step of the way.

Written by Koraljka Suton. Koraljka is a member of the Croatian Society of Film Critics and has a master’s degree in German and English. For her thesis, she did a comparative analysis of Spielberg’s ‘Band of Brothers’ and ‘The Pacific’. Koraljka trained at a Zagreb-based acting studio for six years and fell in love with Michael Chekhov and Lee Strasberg’s acting techniques. She is also a contemporary dancer and a Reiki master who believes in the transformative quality of art. Read more »

 
The following is an excerpt from the book The New Annotated Frankenstein, written by Mary Shelley (author), Leslie S. Klinger (editor), Guillermo del Toro (introduction), Anne K. Mellor (afterword).

 

MARY SHELLEY, OR THE MODERN GALATEA
by Guillermo del Toro

All art is self-portraiture.

All storytelling is autobiography.

The true North of life is death.

These are some of the truths evidenced by the work of a teenager, writing a piece of fantastic fiction two hundred years ago. A beautiful tale of loss and pain that, by being fantastic, allowed her to reveal her true self.

I have, perhaps, little to add to the scholarly and thorough annotations to be found in this splendid volume Mr. Klinger has assembled. In the volume you have in your hands you will find in equal measure erudition and passion. This may very well be the best presentation of Mary Shelley’s book, or at least a touchstone to be consulted time and again.

Knowing this, the only thing I can offer is myself. I can give back some personal observations—love, and a little bit of autobiography—in talking about a book, a character, and a writer who entirely transformed my life.

The monumental achievement of Mary Shelley grows considerably in our eyes the more we know about the context in which the book was created.

Like all great movements, Romanticism was birthed out of rage and need: the need to assert upon the world a new way of looking at things, a way to fight the overbearing certainty of science, to understand the unholy uniformity of mechanization and the need to rescue the numinous, the emotional, above all things. To quote Lord Byron: “The great object of life is sensation—to feel that we exist—even though in pain.”

The irony of it all is that Romanticism was considered iconoclastic and rebellious and that, being a movement firmly gazing at the past, it became thoroughly modern.

It was punk rock to the establishment, to academia and the puritan mores of the time because it sought its roots in the provoking intersection of love and death in the poetic balance between loss and passion, damnation and desire.

Romanticism was an exuberant, young movement and it pursued the crossroads of all dichotomies as a source of true art. In ghosts, monsters, and mystery—all essential elements of our past—it found a way to fight against the stodgy narratives and values that dominated socially sanctioned art. It severed any ties with reason and with a rebellious scream gave birth to a world of gods and monsters.

Music, painting, and literature are steeped in outrageous passion and abandon. Graveyard poetry ruminates darkly over death and decay but differentiates itself from the memento mori by finding melancholy and desire in them, perhaps because we innately understand that our permanent state is “not being” and that our ignited state—life—is only transitory and precious. The call of the abyss is the call of Mother Darkness, eternally casting Her shadow over our brief scintillation.

The true North of life is death.

Mary W. Shelley was born in a world of men. Some pernicious and some benign, but all of them firmly in control. In the very best of circumstances, a woman could stumble upon a Pygmalionesque figure that bestowed his benign prejudice upon her and attempted to sculpt her into being.

Shelley was, however, a precious rarity. Being the daughter of an enlightened household and being painfully familiar with true loss, she was shaped by absence as much as she was by knowledge, and, in her solitude, she found her spirit—a spirit that saw no immediate benefit in the raging wound left in her heart by the loss of mother, child, and sibling and the insurmountable distance she felt from her father.

Then, as now, the game was socially and existentially rigged by men: a game of chutes and ladders that was all chutes for her and all ladders for men. Miraculously for us, Mary harnessed her gut-wrenching loneliness and oppression and conjured a book that was destined to outlive and outshine those of most of her male counterparts. This modern Galatea sang louder and clearer and demanded to be let loose from all the modeling hands that surrounded her.

Her questions, like Milton’s, became universal, ontological questions. The exquisite Via Crucis she crafted for her creature speaks to all outsiders, and will continue to do so for centuries to come.

For if Hell is others, then the creature experiences it like no other protagonist before him or since. And when he recognizes his true plea and the unforgiving circumstances of his existence, he quests to kill his God, to seek his God and curse him, for in lieu of love he chooses the one emotion he can dispense at will: hatred. But like all art, the final element in this composition is paradox: when you silence your God, when you free yourself of him and realize he was himself a lonely man—simply a man—then you finally find yourself entirely, inescapably alone.

The virtue of this masterwork resides in the fact that it operates purely at various levels. First, it works perfectly as an engrossing yarn by utilizing a shifting narrative: a letter, a testimony, and a plea from three men in a quest for meaning—the captain, the scientist, and the creature. Its plotting and flow are utterly engrossing, and the reader’s emotional alliance is usurped time and again by the unforgiving circumstances of all.

At another level, the work is a perfect parable, albeit one that seeks to dispense a most unforgiving truth. Parable is classically used to enlighten the mind, to shine light upon knowledge, but Shelley uses it to gauge the depth of our cosmic despair: the essential loneliness of our existence. Unlike Milton, she doesn’t bemoan the loss of a paradise but rather reveals to us that there never was one. In embracing these unforgiving truths and not finding solace in any institutional comforts offered by church, by state, or by faith, Shelley concocts a most contemporary, modern parable that is impossible to outgrow and almost impossible to capture fully in any other medium.

In the popular imagination, and perhaps justly so, the creature and his creator have now fused into a single figure and share a single name. And now “Frankenstein” stands alongside that rarest of breeds—the literary figure that transcends its source. These figures are used colloquially to represent a concept, or many, and become an idiom. Dracula, Tarzan, Holmes, Watson—each of them has now been worshipped in as many mediums as we can consume—illustrated books, comics, film, television, radio, plays, figurines, statues, toys, street names, municipalities—and can be used in our vernacular: “He is a regular __________ ,” we say, and are understood even by those who have only the vaguest notions of the literary source.

If we think of the creature as a shambling assembly of body parts (human and animal alike), and we consider his painful quest into enlightenment, we will come to an interesting question: “Where is the seat of the soul?” or rather “Where did that spark come from?”

Was it lodged in a thorax? The heart? An unmatched forearm? Or was the assembly of these parts an invocation of the ethereal planes—an edifice claiming to be inhabited?

The same can be said about the many parts that animate the novel, for, yes, the woes of the creatures are, somewhat obliquely, an autobiography of Shelley. But then again she speaks not only of her own emotional/spiritual journey and travails—she also serves us a travelogue of sorts, through regions that she became familiar with, and a catalog of notions, both scientific and philosophical, that intrigued her the most. These modern concerns, the uneasy truce between science and religion, machine and man, permeate the work. The soul of the book, then, I believe, resides in the unlikely combination of all these elements that, for the first time in human history, seek to reclaim our awe through a basis in fact and not through atavism and totem. For many, the book births a new genre: science fiction. This can be debated in favor of or against, because to classify is to confine, and like all great works, Frankenstein should be unshackled from a single shelf and find its life source as a philosophical meditation, a spiritual tale, a horror story, and a dire warning to science and its limits.

The flame of Shelley’s intelligence burned brighter than any of her contemporaries’, and the novel surges like an explosion with all the combustible matter available to her. The scorch marks it left behind delineate a perfect portrait of her soul and mind.

It has been oft repeated that of the tales invoked that “Year without a Summer” in Villa Diodati, it is hers that lives on. Polidori’s seminal tale of vampirism would transmute into Stoker’s Dracula, and Byron and Percy Shelley birthed but a barren concept or two.

But her tale found true immortality and it reached me thus.

It is a child of particular disposition that looks at gargoyles while others sing hymns to the Lord at church. I have to believe she felt, like me, more at home with the wretched than with the winners. History is written by the victors, but art is mostly chronicled by the disfranchised.

All of my life, I was in love with monsters; this is a fact. I discovered Frankenstein through the movies—like most people do—and was enraptured by Karloff and Whale’s creation.

It was years later, at the start of adolescence, that I stumbled upon a pocket edition of Mary Shelley’s work. The first thing that struck me was its literary devices—it was the first epistolary novel I had ever read—and the fact that, in many ways, it bore little resemblance to its filmic counterparts.

Shelley’s book moved me to tears. I wept for the monster and admired his thirst for revenge. It spoke to me about the essential contradictions of the spirit and the world. And beyond the tragedy of it all a notion emerged that was demolishing to me: the villain of the piece was life. “Being” was the ultimate punishment and the only blessing we receive. And in the absence of love, it was Hell.

The Romantic essence was there—a notion well expressed by that other Romantic, Chopin, who once stated: “To die is man’s finest action—and what might be his worst? To be born.”

The fascinating thing for me is that Romanticism was responding to an eminently modern notion: man is alone but for man. We are the plague and the poetry and we are imprisoned by the notions, the gaze of others upon us.

The social misfit, the alienated being, comes to full fruition with the Industrial Revolution and the overcrowded loneliness of the big cities. The birth of the monster coincides socially with these modern concerns—it comes to be at the exact moment at which machines of our own creation usurp our function and surpass our skill and speed, displacing us into anonymity. The death knell of craftsmanship and thus of identity comes hand in hand with mass production of goods and the siphoning of the masses into identically constructed lodging to serve these machines.

The science fiction aspects of Frankenstein have always struck me as a byproduct of Shelley’s desire to exonerate the existential villains of the past —the devil and sin—and to embrace the rational only as a tool to ask deeper, more urgent questions that are not circumstantial but universal.

Like Goethe, Shelley seems to have an innate grasp of the arrogance of knowledge. She uses surgery, galvanism, and chemistry only to grant an audience to the lonely wretch that is all of us. The impossibility of death is, to me, the greatest of the tragedies for the monster: the fact that his creator made him well and gave him a body that endures in spite of himself—his self, his lonely, desperate self.

There is, in my estimation, no more devastating ending in the history of literature than: “He sprung from the cabin-window, as he said this, upon the ice-raft which lay close to the vessel. He was soon borne away by the waves, and lost in darkness and distance.”

I believe that Shelley uses science in order to avoid either divine origin or intercourse as birthing devices for her creature. Trying to avert the usual discourse about good and evil for a larger one: the fact that we are all anomalies—unnatural beings born of spiritually barren parents. And it is very telling that she chooses Nothingness to stage the final dialogue between Father and Child. A frozen hell where warmth is absent and where life seems impossible. She elevates the theater of this encounter by setting it in the most abstract landscape in the whole wide world, and one of the most symbolic.

At her very point of origin, Shelley traded her life with that of her own mother. For less than two weeks she rested in the maternal arms before losing her mother to the grave. Her only visitations were to her grave, and her joy was forever tainted by her pain and that most essential severance. Her origin was death and life her curse. Like her creature, she experienced the pain and steeled herself and found, in the learning of words, the only way to sing about her loneliness.

Much tragedy was to befall her, more than most contemporary minds could bear. It is entirely understandable that she might have believed herself accursed. Most everyone she loved, she lost, and posterity has never offered consolation to the artist. She has always impressed me in a way similar to how the Brontë sisters impress me: Most people would like to travel in time to meet great statesmen or explorers. I would love to travel back to contemplate life with these remarkable women—to hear them speak, to walk by their side on cold beaches or moors and under impossibly steely skies. For I was born in a sunny place in the middle of a sunny country, but within me I had a kinship to the same spirit that animated their melancholy and art.

I had seen Whale’s film, and I saw Shelley’s novel in the form of a Spanish paperback from Bruguera (my go-to dark fiction publisher in the late sixties, early seventies). Being an import, the book was not cheap. I saved my Sunday allowance for a couple of weeks and bought it. I read it in one sitting, and by the end of it, I was weeping. It was my Road to Damascus. It illuminated the reason I loved monsters, my kinship with them, and showed me how deep, how life-changing, a monster parable could be—how it could function as art and how it could reach across distance and time and become a palliative to solitude and pain.

And here we are, two centuries later, faithfully depositing flowers to this most exquisite storyteller, this extraordinary Galatea who refused to be shaped by her circumstance and gave us all life. And we try, in return, to help her creature stay alive. We strive to turn a curse into a blessing.

We hope that in some way, somehow, our gratitude, our love, can reach him like a whispered prayer, like a distant song. And we dream that perhaps he can stop—amid the frozen tundra and the screaming wind—and can turn his head and look back. At us.

And we hope that then he might recognize in our eyes his own yearning. And that perchance we can walk toward each other and find meager warmth in our embrace.

And then, if only for a moment, we will not feel alone in the world.

 
Here’s a rarity, screenwriter must-read: Garrett Fort, Francis Edward Faragoh & Richard Schayer’s screenplay for Frankenstein [PDF]. (NOTE: For educational and research purposes only). The DVD/Blu-ray of the film is available at Amazon and other online retailers. Absolutely our highest recommendation.

 

MEMOIRS OF A MONSTER

The monster turned out to be the best friend I ever had. He changed the whole course of my life. I was an obscure and struggling unknown actor. Then all of a sudden I get this marvelous opportunity handed to me with all the help and assistance I could ask for. And my career—my work hasn’t stopped since. 32 years later you are asking me about him. Who could ask for anything better than that?

In 1962 the world’s most famous bogeyman, Boris Karloff, looked back at his 30-year career in horror. Memoirs of a Monster by Boris Karloff, as told to Arlene and Howard Eisenberg, The Saturday Evening Post, November 3, 1962.






 
Boris Karloff talks Frankenstein in a rare 1963 interview.

 
Here’s an old article with a very interesting story told by Karloff himself, courtesy of Classic Movie Monsters.

 
This amazing concept art was done for Universal’s production of James Whale’s Frankenstein.

 

THE ‘FRANKENSTEIN’ FILES: HOW HOLLYWOOD MADE A MONSTER

“A terrific documentary hosted by film historian David J. Skal, featuring several worthwhile comments and interviews from other filmmakers, historians and relatives of the cast, like Sara Karloff. Most of the discussion traces the progression from Shelley’s novel to adaptation, but there’s also a great deal to glean about the production, the film’s legacy and several interesting behind-the-scene anecdotes.” —High-Def Digest

 

JACK PIERCE

“Jack Pierce was rarely interviewed during his later years. This interview with Russ Jones for Monster Mania #1 might well be the last interview that Jack gave—at least in any monster movie magazine. The interview appeared in the October 1966 issue less than two years before his death. Jack discusses details about his life as well as his work in Hollywood. One wishes that the conversation had been several times lengthier.” —Jack Pierce Makeup Memorial





 

ARTHUR EDESON

“While Arthur Edeson’s career after Casablanca was really just making programmers, for his overall work through four decades he has few peers. Up to 1930, the keynote is spectacle, from the fantasy worlds of Fairbanks to the corpse-strewn battlegrounds of All Quiet on the Western Front. Progressing into the 30s, however, it becomes more and more difficult to detect an Edeson style, beyond the common denominator of the Warner Brothers ‘look’, if such a thing really existed. But the number of essential works which came to life in front of his camera is still pretty amazing. We’ll never know how much he contributed to such films as Frankenstein and The Maltese Falcon, but it’s certain that, had it not been for Edeson, we would be viewing vintage American cinema from some different, probably inferior, angle.” —Internet Encyclopedia of Cinematographers

 

KARLOFF: THE GENTLE MONSTER

Film historians, and producer Richard Gordon, talk about the horror movie career of cult star Boris Karloff.

 
“A 1998 documentary narrated by Kenneth Branagh that takes an in-depth and fascinating look at Universal Studios’ impact on the horror genre, starting from the Carl Laemmle silent era. Horror fans will already be familiar with the piece, but it’s nevertheless a wonderful journey through some of the most memorable films of all time.” —High-Def Digest

 
Here are several photos taken behind-the-scenes during production of James Whale’s Frankenstein. Photographed by Sherman Clark & Jack Freulich © Universal Pictures. Intended for editorial use only. All material for educational and noncommercial purposes only.

 
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