The Bride of Frankenstein (1935)

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By Scott Ross

James Whale’s follow-up to Frankenstein, a wild black-comedy masterpiece with a vivid camp sensibility. Boris Karloff and the highly-strung Colin Clive reprise their roles as the monster and his creator and there’s a great supporting cast including Una O’Connor’s screaming-Mimi of a housekeeper, and Ernest Thesiger’s creepily fey Dr. Pretorius. (The bride of the title is not, as most people think, Elsa Lanchester, who briefly but unforgettably plays the monster’s mate, but Valerie Hobson as Clive’s newlywed wife.)

There are so many marvelous sequences — the blind man’s supper with Karloff, Thesiger’s miniature menagerie — and the tone is so unerringly right, that the movie utterly surpasses its famous progenitor. Franz Waxman composed one of the first great scores for the talkies, comparable in reach, tone, accomplishment and thematic richness with Max Steiner’s for King Kong two years earlier. (Richard Rodgers’ later “Bali Hai” sounds uncannily like the main theme for the Bride’s creation.)

Text copyright 2013 by Scott Ross

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