AFI Catalog of Feature Films
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Bride of Frankenstein
Alternate Title: The Return of Frankenstein
Director: James Whale (Dir)
Release Date:   22 Apr 1935
Production Date:   2 Jan--7 Mar 1935
Duration (in mins):   73 or 80
Duration (in reels):   8
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Cast:   Karloff (The Monster)  
    Colin Clive ([Baron] Henry Frankenstein)  
    Valerie Hobson ([Baroness] Elizabeth [Frankenstein])  
    Ernest Thesiger (Doctor Pretorius)  
    Elsa Lanchester (Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley/[The Monster's Mate])  
    Gavin Gordon ([George Gordon] Lord Byron)  
    Douglas Walton (Percy Bysshe Shelley)  
    Una O'Connor (Minnie)  
    E. E. Clive (Burgomaster)  
    Lucien Prival (Butler)  
    O. P. Heggie (Hermit)  
    Dwight Frye (Karl)  
    Reginald Barlow (Hans)  
    Mary Gordon (Hans' wife)  
    Ann Darling (Shepherdess)  
    Ted Billings (Ludwig)  
    Neil Fitzgerald (Second ghoul)  
    Rollo Lloyd (Neighbor)  
    Billy Barty (Baby)  
    Walter Brennan (Neighbor)  
    John Carradine (A hunter)  
    Robert A'Dair (A hunter)  
    Jack Curtis (A hunter)  
    Frank Terry (A hunter)  
    Tempe Pigott (Auntie Glutz)  
    Lucio Villegas (Priest)  
    Brenda Fowler (A mother)  
    Edwin Mordant (The coroner)  
    Sarah Schwartz (Marta)  
    Gunnis Davis (Uncle Glutz)  
    Mary Stewart (A neighbor)  
    Norman Ainsley (Little Bishop)  
    Joan Woodbury (Little Queen)  
    Arthur S. Byron (Little King)  
    Helen Parrish (Communion girl)  
    Josephine McKim (Mermaid)  
    Kansas DeForrest (Ballerina)  
    Edward Peil Sr. (Villager)  
    Frank Benson (Villager)  
    Anders Van Haden (Villager)  

Summary: On a stormy night, George Gordon, Lord Byron, commends Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley, the wife of his close companion, Percy Bysshe Shelley, on her unpublished manuscript entitled Frankenstein . After assuring Byron that her horror novel will soon find a publisher, Mary tells him that the story did not end when the book ended. After the mill burned and many people died, the burgomaster assumed that the Monster died in the fire. The much misunderstood creature rises from the flooded mill cellar, however, and kills two more villagers. His creator, Baron Henry Frankenstein, is presumed dead, much to the horror of Henry's fiancĂ©e Elizabeth, but once his body is returned to the family castle, he revives. Elizabeth implores him to discontinue his experiments in revivification, so they can be married, and he dazedly agrees. Later that night, Henry is visited by the evil Dr. Pretorius, his old college professor and mentor. Pretorius convinces his ex-pupil to follow him back to his lab, where he shows Henry how he has grown miniature people from seeds. The mad scientist then insists that the two combine forces to create a mate for Henry's creature, thus fulfilling Pretorius's dream of developing a race of man-made beings. Meanwhile, the Monster is discovered in the forest by two hunters. He is soon captured by the townspeople, who put him in chains in a jail, but he breaks out and kills a young girl. Wandering at night, he finds gypsies around a camp fire, but when he burns his hand in the flames, he becomes terrified and runs away. He then follows the sound of a violin to a small cabin in the forest. The violinist is a blind hermit who, unaware of the Monster's deadly capabilities, welcomes him as the friend for whom he has prayed. In time, the hermit teaches the Monster how to speak and the creature calms, until two more hunters happen on the cabin and try to kill him. In the ensuing melee, the hermit's cabin catches on fire and the Monster escapes into a nearby cemetery. Entering a crypt, the Monster discovers Dr. Pretorius and his two murderous assistants, Karl and Ludwig, gathering specimens for the Monster's mate. Pretorious befriends the creature and the Monster is encouraged by the idea of having a female companion. By this time, Henry and Elizabeth have been married and are preparing to leave on a vacation. At Pretorius's command, the Monster abducts Elizabeth and intimidates Henry into agreeing to create a mate for him. While Pretorius's artificial brain thrives, Henry has little luck in reviving the female corpse's heart. Needing a fresh heart, Pretorius sends Karl out to kill a young girl. With their newly acquired organ, which Henry is told is from the victim of an accidental death, Pretorius and Henry operate together on their newest creation. Upon garnering electricity from a lightning storm, the Mate comes alive. Although the experiment is successful, the Mate is terrified of her intended. The Monster realizes that he has no place in this life, and after urging Henry and newly freed Elizabeth to escape, pulls a lever that causes the tower to explode. The Monster, Pretorius and the Mate are killed, freeing Henry and Elizabeth to pursue a normal life together. 

Production Company: Universal Pictures Corp.  
Production Text: Carl Laemmle, President; A James Whale Production
Distribution Company: Universal Pictures Corp.  
Director: James Whale (Dir)
  Henry Mancke (Asst dir)
  Fred Frank (Asst dir)
  Joseph McDonough (Asst dir)
Producer: Carl Laemmle (Pres)
  Carl Laemmle Jr. (Prod)
Writer: William Hurlbut (Scr)
  William Hurlbut (Adpt)
  John Balderston (Adpt)
  Tom Reed (Contr wrt)
Photography: John J. Mescall (Photog)
  Alan Jones (2d cam)
  William Dodds (Asst cam)
Art Direction: Charles D. Hall (Art dir)
Film Editor: Ted Kent (Film ed)
  Maurice Pivar (Supv film ed)
Music: Franz Waxman (Mus score)
  Bakaleinikoff (Orch conductor)
Sound: Gilbert Kurland (Sd supv)
Special Effects: John P. Fulton (Photog eff)
Make Up: Jack Pierce (Makeup)
  Otto Lederer (Makeup)
Production Misc: Flo Brummel (Scr clerk)
  Buddy Dagget (Prod secy)
Stand In: Peter Shaw (Doubles for Ernest Thesiger)
  Monte Montague (Doubles for Ernest Thesiger)
  George DeNormand (Double for Reginald Barlow)
Country: United States
Series: Frankenstein's Monster

Source Text: Suggested by the novel Frankenstein; or, the Modern Prometheus by Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley (London, 1818).
Authors: Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley

Copyright Claimant Copyright Date Copyright Number
Universal Pictures Corp. 26/4/1935 dd/mm/yyyy LP5500

PCA NO: 768
Physical Properties: Sd:
  b&w:

 
Genre: Horror
 
Subjects (Major): Corpses
  Mad scientists
  Monsters
  Revivification
 
Subjects (Minor): Blindness
  George Gordon Byron, Baron
  Castles
  Crypts
  Engagements
  Explosions
  Fires
  Gypsies
  Hermits
  Hunters
  Kidnapping
  Lightning
  Mobs
  Murder
  Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley
  Percy Bysshe Shelley
  Suicide
  Violinists

Note: The working title of this film was The Return of Frankenstein . Although Elsa Lanchester was credited onscreen for the role of "Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley," only a question mark appeared opposite the character name of "The Monster's Mate." Universal records indicate that writer Tom Reed authored an early treatment and three screenplay revisions for the film. Var notes that the preview was 90 minutes, 15 minutes longer than the final release; it is unclear which scenes were cut. Modern sources indicate that a prologue and various other scenes including a coroner's investigation, a speech by Pretorius, and several murders perpetrated by the Monster were among the scenes deleted, and note that Henry Frankenstein can actually be seen in the burning laboratory sequence due to the fact that the story, as originally filmed, had Henry returning to save Elizabeth, who would perish in the fire. Expenses were too high to justify reshooting the scene.
       Modern sources also add the following information: The film was made for just under $400,000. Claude Rains was originally slated for the role of Pretorius, but was reassigned by Universal to star in their 1935 release Mystery of Edwin Drood (see entry below). Brigitte Helm, the star of the 1926 classic German film Metropolis and Phyllis Brooks, a New York model, were both seriously considered for the role of the Monster's mate. Because director James Whale refused to do a sequel to Frankenstein in 1933, Carl Laemmle, Jr. assigned Kurt Neumann to the task, with Boris Karloff as the monster and Bela Lugosi as the scientist. This project was dropped in favor of The Black Cat (see entry above), however, and reestablished in late 1934, when James Whale consented to direct the sequel.
       Modern sources add the following names to the crew credits: Spec photog eff David Horsley and Elec eff Kenneth Strickfaden. Modern sources add to the cast: Peter Shaw ( Little Devil/Villager ), John George, D'Arcy Corrigan, Grace Cunard and Maurice Black ( Villagers ), Murdock MacQuarrie ( Sympathetic villager ), Elspeth Dudgeon ( Old gypsy woman ), Helen Gibson, Harry Northrup and Joseph North. Modern sources also note that Franz Waxman's score, called "The Creation of the Female Monster," earned him a contract with Universal, and portions of the same score were also used in later Universal films. The image of Lanchester as the "Bride of Frankenstein" with wavy, streaked hair, has been used in innumerable film and print ads and humorous sketches since 1935. The shot of Lancaster screaming when she sees the Monster is frequently shown in documentaries on horror films. Sound director Gilbert Kurland received an Academy Award nomination in the Sound Recording category.
       Bride of Frankenstein was the second Universal film to feature the Frankenstein Monster. It was followed in 1939 by Son of Frankenstein , directed by Rowland V. Lee and starring Boris Karloff and Basil Rathbone. For more information on films featuring the Frankenstein Monster, please consult the Series Index and see the 1931 entry for Frankenstein (see below). In 1985, Columbia pictures released The Bride , directed by Franc Roddam and starring Sting and Jennifer Beals, which contained a storyline similar to Bride of Frankenstein . The 1998 film Gods and Monsters , directed by Bill Condon, featured Ian McKellen in a fictionalized account of the life of director James Whale and included numerous scenes recreating the making of Bride of Frankenstein

Bibliographic Sources:   Date   Page
Film Daily   11 Apr 35   p. 9.
Hollywood Reporter   8 Apr 35   p. 3.
Motion Picture Daily   9 Apr 35   p. 6.
Motion Picture Herald   16 Feb 35   p. 45.
Motion Picture Herald   20 Apr 35   p. 34.
New York Times   11 May 35   p. 21.
Variety   15 May 35   p. 19.

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The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.
 
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