TCM Double Feature (10/24/12): Frankenstein/Bride of Frankenstein

TCM Double Feature of Universal’s “Frankenstein” (1931) and “The Bride of Frankenstein” (1935).

Today I spent the afternoon with a good friend of mine, reliving my childhood and watching two of my all-time favorite Universal Horror flicks! AMC theaters ran a one day only showing of “Frankenstein” and “The Bride of Frankenstein” featuring Boris Karloff. Te prints were restored to their original brilliance and aspect ratios and were accompanied by commentary from TCM’s Host Robert Osborne as well as an interview with Bela Lugosi Jr, Sarah Karloff and modern make-up master Rick Baker. The interviews were fun but hardly enlightening if you have already scene the extras on the respective Legacy box sets. Even so, it was familiar and added to our growing anticipation for the films.

Boris Karloff as the Frankenstein Monster (1931).

Finally, once the films began, I was at once thrilled with the fact that I was seeing them on a large screen for the first time ever. I saw details which had never been noticeable before, such as the boil or growth on the back of the Baron Frankenstein’s neck, or the row of skulls in Dr. Waldman’s office. The alternating pathos and fright-factor of Karloff’s monster was amplified on the silver screen and Elsa Lanchester was stunning, both as the author Mary Shelley in the movie prologue, and as the Bride of the Monster.

The lovely Elsa Lanchester touches up her make-up.

The lush Gothic sets and sweeping soundtrack (in the case of Franz Waxman’s score for “The Bride…”) just seemed all the more grandiose and romantic in this theatrical format, however, what stood out the most for me was being able to see the faces of the extras for the first time. The expressions on the faces of the villagers as little Maria’s father walks her limp body through town bringing a sudden halt to the wedding festivities, or noticing for the first time just how cute Elizabeth’s brides maids were had me enthralled. When the lights went up after three hours on this glorious Gothic film-making I felt like I’d just spent the afternoon with old friends and hated getting up to leave my seat.

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