The Bride

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My crappy photo doesn’t do justice to Guy Budziak’s lustrous print of Elsa Lanchester as the Bride of Frankenstein, but I wanted to show it off: Guy made a present of it when we met in New York recently. Check out his Film Noir Woodcuts¬†here.

Elsa is modeling a hairstyle copied from Queen Nefertiti, and for variety make-up designer Jack Pearce and director James Whale decided to give her throat-scars rather than forehead scars — in his initial research, Whale had reportedly discovered that there were two ways to get at the brain. I don’t quite follow the anatomical reasoning, nor see why Boris Karloff’s head would necessarily be flat, but it’s cool that there was research. The audience gets that there’s a reason for something happening, even if they don’t understand what it is.

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30 Responses to “The Bride”

  1. Arthur S. Says:

    Sweet!

    I must say I found Elsa Lanchester’s Bride – the mixture of allure and fear quite enticing. If they do a modern version of Frankenstein, they should do a lady monster and pattern it on the Bride. That’d be interesting,

    And of course her performance as Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley is great as well.

  2. Arthur S. Says:

    Many happy returns to Mr. Cushing.

  3. Thanks for the link.

    It’s a pleasure to find some old-style, solidly built stuff like these woodcuts. in an age of digital illustration and “for hire” clip-art, the genuine craftmanship of wood engravings is a wonder to behold.

  4. That must mean Christopher Lee is tomorrow… and Vincent Price too!

    Elsa has some great line readings as Shelley: “It will be published — I think!” That’s a BRIGHT reading if ever there was one. And then the swan-hiss as the monster, superb. A shame she didn’t appreciate all Pearce’s work. Laughton likewise had a fraught relationship with Westmore on Hunchback of Notre Dame, culminating with Westmore kicking him up the arse in front of witnesses.

  5. It’s the “I think” that makes the line. Speaks volumes.

  6. Yeah. It could have been delivered as “doubtful” but she reads it as “certain”.

  7. The funny thing about Laughton and Westmore is that RKO actually hired his services (for quite a handsome sum) at Laughton’s own request: he had his talents in high regard.

    Laughton, as a producer, had actually trusted the ellaborate make-up he wore in “Jamaica Inn” to the Westmore’s firm, the responsible for it being Ern Westmore (Perc’s twin brother).

    The trouble in Hunchback arose as Laughton had something very definite in mind, and it took time until Perc Westmore came in with the proposal which suited Charles. Understand that, as an ex-Graphic Designer, I perfectly understand Westmore’s frustration (and resulting mad anger) when presenting make-up proposal after the other only to be rejected by Laughton, but I believe that maureen O’Hara is right in giving Laughton co-Authorship in the final results.

  8. Gloria, thanks for the positive words. I attended a funeral a few years back, after a friend passed away, an art instructor I’d had back when I first went to college. A friend of his expressed interest in seeing my work, and when I emailed him a link to my site he responded by asking, Wouldn’t you be able to get the same effect with the use of a computer? He was someone who believed he knew something about the making of art, but he just didn’t get it. Thanks again David.

  9. Christopher Says:

    THose Woodcuts are really beautiful and intricate..I’m looking thru them now.
    The Bride of Frankenstein is in my top 10 fave movies of all time..I’ve long been a fan of the made for TV movie,Frankenstein:The True Story..Jane Seymore is quite the thing as the BRIDE in that one..They could have developed a whole exciting “fatal attraction” movie out of her sequence alone..
    Gods and Monsters is in my top 10 faveorite movies of recen’t years.McKellin is so good,I’ve often thought he could do a traveling ,One Man show on stage,playing James Whale at his Easel,spinning his “war”stories..

  10. It’s not only Peter Cushing’s birthday, it’s also the birthday of Peggy Lee!

    Somehow I have this image of Cushing, in his Victor Frankenstein get-up, singing “Is That All There Is?” Perhaps with the title “Is That All I’ve Built?”

  11. Christopher Says:

    smoooooth!…lol..jack webb..”I always said,Joe..you need to get out more..”

  12. Been meaning to run Webb’s The D.I.

    Saw Frankenstein: TTS as a kid an enjoyed it, especially the Seymour stuff. Christopher Isherwood was co-author. And of course I’m crazy about Gods and Monsters. Can’t think why they didn’t use the factual detail of Whale receiving electro-shock treatment for depression though…

  13. kevin mummery Says:

    Guy, that’s fantastic! Any plans to do more woodcuts of the monster crowd, or their relatives (Rondo Hatton, Skelton Knaggs, etc.)? I’d really love to see a wood cut Creature From The Black Loagoon!

  14. kevin mummery Says:

    I meant “Lagoon” above…

  15. It’s something I contemplate, Kevin, but I’m currently wrapped up in other projects. I’m close to finishing number five right now, number six I intend to be Miss Havisham, from Lean’s GREAT EXPECTATIONS. Six is the magic number, I plan on adding six new prints to my site ASAP. I have been thinking of doing Conrad Veidt from THE HANDS OF ORLAC, that classic shot of him in side profile staring at his hands. I’ll just have to see where time takes me. Wow, Skelton Knaggs, now there’s a kisser, I saw him in something just recently, though I can’t recall what it was. Oh, and for the record, I did the Bride print eight years ago, it’s been that long.

  16. Christopher Says:

    Skelton Knaggs ‘s mug ought to be more “out there” with the rest of all those faces..He seems to be forgotten when time comes to recollect characters from the 40s..don’t know why he never played a Leprechuan!?
    “Oh for a peak of White Chapel..and smell of fish n chips….I’m for the sound of Bow Bells i am..

  17. Just the name alone is fantastic: “Skelton Knaggs”. Very singular, and it fits the face perfectly.

  18. Just discovered Knaggs has the distinction of being our host’s very first Thug With An Ugly Mug, found on the Auteurs site. How’d I miss this?

  19. kevin mummery Says:

    Skelton Knaggs is one of the few actors…hell, one of the few people…who actually looks better when he’s lit from below. You know, “horror movie” lighting.

    Good news about the Miss Havisham print, Guy…Lean’s Great Expectations is a fantastic movie, and one of the few Dickens adaptations that manages to distill the book into a workable film.

  20. In Torture Ship (not a great film) Knaggs is kitted out with coke-bottle specs which man age to make him even more disturbing-looking. Love him in Ghost Ship, one of few films narrated by a mute (The Piano is another).

    Guy, Veidt is a great idea, but it seems like maybe a less-known image from Orlac would have more power (even though that’s a great still). There are so many powerful images in that film I feel it’s a shame we always see that one.

    Gloria, off to Jamaica Inn next week! I’m not a huge fan of Laughton’s makeup in that, it feels overdone when the film’s other grotesques manage to look bizarre without the aid of false eyebrows. Which of course Laughton could have done too. Hitch blamed Laughton and Pommer for the film’s problems. Of course, both men created brilliant films at times, but it’s a demonstration of how strong clashing ideas from talented people can result in a film that doesn’t hit the highs it should’ve.

  21. Yeah David, believe me, the over-saturation of that particular still has not escaped my attention (they used it for the cover of the Kino DVD). Actually, the same notion could be applied to the Bride print, I looked it up on Google Images and the source still pops up an inordinate number of times, but that may not have been the case eight years ago. I’ve promised Ginette Vincendeau that I’d do a second print of PEPE LE MOKO. While she likes the first one, it wasn’t “iconic” enough for her, i.e., he wasn’t wearing his signature scarf and cap. One of the dilemmas I face in producing these, familiar vs. less familiar, iconic vs. non-iconic. Decisions, decisions.

  22. Guy, having worked a lot of years with Photoshop and freehand, as well as brush, pencil and airbrush, I know that there are a lot of effects that are simply unatainable with a computer.

    Computers are a great thing in many senses, and certainly have added a new look and style, but hand-made woodcuts, engravings, watercolours or oil paintings have a texture, a quality that simply cannot be created with a photoshop filter.

    As for “iconicity” I’d go for non-iconic anytime… Non-iconic images, in fact, may be a golden resource of potential iconicity, so to say. I like to collect film stills, and I usually go for “rares” or “candids” than for famous scenes, and I usually find them very rewarding.

    I have not seen “hands of Orlac”, but I have seen the “Mad Love” version with Peter Lorre… I remember it as disquieting to no end (fodder of nightmares, as good horror films should be), and with memorable images as Lorre with shiny metal hands.

    David, I usually regard “Jamaica Inn” as an interesting film, if not a watershed film for any of its participants (except for debutante O’Hara), and I agree with you that Laughton’s squirre would look equally deliriously foppish with a less heavy make-up… But you know actors: they love to play around with putty & greasepaint.

  23. O’Hara recalled that Hitchcock wanted a subtler effect and Laughton was all for creating a grotesque. Since Laughton was bound to have his way with his own performance, it might have been wisest to exaggerate everyone else a bit to create a more unified style. But the film’s problems have more to do with the script than any of that.

    Still, we’ll see what I can make of it. The supporting cast is certainly of great interest to Hitchcockians…

  24. … Waiting eagerly to read your take on Jamaica Inn ;D

    I forgot to mention one thing, which may be of interest to you and guy: Elsa had an artistic side beyond acting. She did some wacky home short films, was a keen photographer and liked to draw. Guy might be interested particularly in the fact that Elsa did linocuts, too: not as beautigul or intrincate as his, but curious enough. Some of them can be seen in her 1938 autobiography “Charles Laughton and I”

  25. I’ll have to check that out, I’m sure my library has it buried away somewhere. Of course she also posed for artists…

    Jamaica Inn next Wednesday!

  26. Let me know if you don’t find it in the library.

    As for the posing business, I understand that some of it -not all- was done for photographers, and undressed, in her younger years. Though, for what she implied, she was “unidentified” in those pictures. I bet any surviving postcard could be quite a collector’s item today ;p

  27. sheree coluccelli Says:

    dear david thank you for sharing one of detroit,michigan’s best kept secrets guy budziak is MISTER WOODCUT i enjoy your blog

  28. Thanks! Yes, Guy should be a treasured municipal resource.

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