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It might even horrify you...,
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This review is from: Frankenstein [DVD]  (DVD)James Whale's 1931 film of Mary Shelley's Frankenstein is one of those `museum piece' movies that are still regarded as all-time greats, especially by more senior critics, but which can prove to be a bit of a slog for today's audiences. Of course, the movie was a trend-setter in more ways than one, and features one of cinema's all-time finest performances from Boris Karloff as the tragic Frankenstein Monster, whilst Whale's inventive direction, the splendid sets, the awesome make-up, and Colin Clive's hysterical turn as Henry also contribute to the movie's overall effect.
Unfortunately, the effect of the film is lessened by the generally mediocre scripting and several below-average supporting performances. Mae Clarke is weak as Henry's bride Elizabeth (looking nothing like as gorgeous as Valerie Hobson in the later Bride of Frankenstein), whilst the forgotten Clark Gable look-alike John Boles is almost invisible in the tedious role of Henry's best friend. Edward Van Sloan and Dwight Frye are nowhere near as effective here as they were in Tod Browning's Dracula (released the same year), whilst Frederick Kerr's camera-hogging Music Hall turn as Henry's father is one of the most excruciating acting performances I've seen in any 1930s' film, and totally out of place in what is supposed to be a straight-faced horror movie (`Are ye, by jove').
Whilst both the blackly comic Bride of Frankenstein (1935) and the action-packed Son of Frankenstein (1939) are superior to this movie, from a historical perspective this first film with Karloff as the Frankenstein Monster is one of talking cinema's great early achievements, and a monument to his status as the horror genre's first real star.
Also included here is a good documentary, `The Frankenstein Files', previously featured on Universal's 1999 VHS release of the movie.