Archive for The Bride of Frankenstein

Symphony of a Gray City

Posted in FILM, MUSIC with tags , , , , , , , , , , on September 14, 2022 by dcairns

Rewatching EMILE AND THE DETECTIVES (1931) — mainly for Fritz Rasp and the amazing train hallucination.

But then it occurred to us —

First Fiona: this music reminds me a lot of a Universal horror movie.

Me: It’s Allan Gray, who scored A MATTER OF LIFE AND DEATH —

And I KNOW WHERE I’M GOING! which has another hallucinatory train journey…

And there’s A LOT of music here! Making it one of the very first full film scores in a talkie (BLACKMAIL showed the way, but Hubert Bath’s excellent work there wasn’t continued immediately in such a full-on way, almost as if it were considered a mistake to have so much music). Bernard Herrmann considered Karol Rathaus’s score for THE BROTHERS KARAMAZOV, also 1931, to be the first, but Grey was contemporary with it, and so was Franz Waxman with THE MAN LOOKING FOR HIS MURDERER. It’s Waxman’s later BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN score that bits of EMILE seems to resemble — which may be more than a coincidence with the films being made so close together, and Billy Wilder working on the screenplay of both.

EMIL’s music characterizes the film beautifully: it has all kinds of stuff going on including a jaunty march and slide whistles, not just Frankensteinian dark thrills. It’s memorable and jaunty, even if sometimes it gets in the way. When Emile is trying to retrieve his money from under Rasp’s pillow, the bombastic crashing climaxes of the orchestra cancel out the suspense, which should all be about being as quiet as possible.

Come to think of it, one reason for the music may have been the location filming, with its attendant difficulties in recording live sound. The movie adds an interest absent from M (not that I’m knocking M’s eerily silent studio city) — the real streets of Berlin. A city symphony, with a children’s film going on in the foreground.

Maids and Monsters

Posted in FILM, Politics with tags , , , , , , , on April 21, 2018 by dcairns

Ernest Thesiger’s Dr. Pretorius (OS) tempts Boris Karloff’s monster with a bottle of House of Lords Scotch Whisky in THE BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN. I mean, why waste good gin? I guess the publicity slogan for that beverage would have to be “Gets you drunk as a lord.” Although I actually like the House of Lords this week because they’re fucking with Brexit. The Brexiteers are outraged, a lot of people belatedly noticing that we have this antiquated branch of government and it isn’t democratic. Well, I guess that’s it’s purpose, to be undemocratic, to stop democracy propelling us off cliffs. I rather doubt it’s the best way of doing this, but the paralysis it produces, as with America’s three-branch system, CAN be a cause for gratitude sometimes.

Other things noticed in BRIDE: the movie is famously disrespectful to its original, recasting Elizabeth from an American blonde to a brunette English teenager, and dropping the stupid old Baron with the unsightly thing on his neck without explanation. Actor Frederick Kerr had died in the interim from causes unconnected with his unsightly neck-thing, and Pretorius congratulates Henry on having inherited the title, but the absence goes otherwise unremarked. One of my students suggested that at the end of the first film, where he’s drinking a toast to the house of Frankenstein, and all the maids are giggling — they’ve poisoned his champagne.

 

All the pretty, giggling maids have disappeared by the sequel too — replaced by screeching harridan Una O’Connor. Looks like Elizabeth has taken over running the household already…

 

But, despite playing fast and loose with what we would call “series continuity,” the sequel has one delicious call-back I hadn’t noticed before: once the monster learns to speak, his first words to his creator are a very emphatic “SIT – DOWN!” with a downward wave of the hands. Well, in FRANKENSTEIN, the first words we hear Henry speak to his creation are “Come in,” but the second are “Sit down,” with the exact same gesture. The monster is very purposely letting Henry know that the giant tar-spreader’s shoe is on the other foot now.

Another big-screen discovery: the monster’s decision to let Henry live at the end comes out of left field, a change of character seemingly unmotivated by anything. But it was not always thus: as Henry runs off into the night with Elizabeth, he can still be seen in the exploding lab, a startling feat of bilocation ~

(Pretorius and the Bride are on the right in white, the monster is scarcely visible between the two electrical towers, but Henry is vividly pressed against a wall screen left, about to be crushed along with everyone else by the falling roof.)

Henry is one lucky fellow — reanimated after a fatal fall in the first film, re-re-animated under slightly different circumstances in the second, and then saved from exploding by a last-minute reshoot. Universal appear to have been convinced their audience wanted Frankenstein to live. I’m not sure they were right (and I’m sure the crowd would have cheered if Karloff had found time to throttle Una O’Connor). Possibly a third film was already anticipated, for which a mad scientist would be required. Sadly, Colin Clive would have passed away by the time that happened, leaving his character to die as his father had done, vanishing between films, through a crack in the continuity.

Elsa

Posted in FILM with tags , , , on September 18, 2013 by dcairns

This is pretty lovely. And she does the BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN hiss…