Welcome, children of the night! This Blog is for fans of vintage horror films as well as those who are just beginning to discover the joy of these classic movies. I'd love to hear from you!

Friday, July 30, 2010

Son of Frankenstein (1939)

Boris Karloff, Bela Lugosi and Basil Rathbone in the same movie?  You bethca!  Son of Frankenstein is Universal Studio's follow up to its immensely popular Bride of Frankenstein (1935) and Frankenstein (1931).  How does it rate?  While it's not as good as the first two movies, it is excellent in its own right.  Director James Whale is replaced by Rowland V. Lee who does a super job with the look and feel of the film.  While the sets are different from Frankenstein, they have a wonderful expressionistic feel to them, full of weird angles and forced perspectives.  It definitely adds a great deal to the experience of watching the film.
Basil Rathbone plays Wolf, the son of Dr. Henry Frankenstein.  [Henry met his demise at the end of Bride.]  Wolf comes to town to claim his inheritance and gets a bit more than he bargained for!  Rathbone's performance is a bit over the top and melodramatic, especially in the last half of the film, but it works rather well here.  
Without spoiling the plot, Boris Karloff is back as The Monster, although this time he has lost his ability to speak like he did in Bride.  Personally, I think it's more effective and Karloff does a superb job once again.  Bela Lugosi plays Ygor, a man who survived begin hanged, and who has now befriended The Monster.  Lugosi gives one of the finest performances of his career in this film, bested only by his portrayal of Dracula (1931).
The rest of the cast is excellent as well.  If you've ever seen Mel Brook's Young Frankenstein (1974) you'll laugh out loud every time Lionel Atwill makes an appearance on the screen as Inspector Krogh.  I love the use of his wooden arm which is unintentionally funny and quirky.  Josephine Hutchinson is great as Wolf's wife, Elsa.  She injects vulnerability and empathy into her character and is the perfect foil to Rathbone's Wolf.
Son of Frankenstein can be watched on You Tube.  However, I believe this needs to be seen in a better format in order to fully appreciate the film.  I have the Universal Legacy Frankenstein Collection which can also be rented through Netflix.  Enjoy this wonderful film which is a more than worthy sequel to its predecessors.
RATING: Excellent.
For more info check out the film's entry in IMDB.

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