The Bride of Frankenstein (James Whale, 1935, USA)

  Bride of Frankenstein is the second film in the original Universal Frankenstein trilogy, starting with 1931’s Frankenstein and followed by 1939’s Son of Frankenstein. The film marks the return of director James Whale, as well as cast members Boris Karloff as the Monster and Colin Clive as Dr. Henry Frankenstein. The story, based on a subplot of Mary Shelley’s original novel, involves Dr. Frankenstein being influenced by his old mentor Dr. Pretorius to create a mate for the Monster. While Bride was met with a great deal of censorship at the time of its release, the film in retrospect has been perceived as superior to its predecessor, and one of the great Gothic horror films of all time.

At a brief 75 minutes, the film hardly features the titular Bride. She only appears within the last 5 minutes of the film. Instead, Ernest Thesiger as Dr. Pretorius steals much of the show. He has an otherworldly quality to him, and his method of convincing Dr. Frankenstein is as charming as it is sinister. Some of the visual tricks in the film, including the homunculi Pretorius shows to Frankenstein, are amazing for the time. Karloff also does a great job, and James Whale showcases him in a Christlike form. 

The camerawork, art direction, and soundtrack are all top notch. Franz Waxman’s motif in the film is highly memorable. In retrospect it is hard not to give a camp reading to the film, especially given James Whale’s sexuality, as well as the bisexuality of actors Colin Clive and Ernest Thesinger. That said, the film can also be appreciated absent of any knowledge about the director or actors’ backgrounds. Bride is truly an enjoyable watch from start to finish, and never lags. It is perhaps the greatest of all the Universal monster movies, and one of the greatest monster movies of all time.



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