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Author Topic: Frankenstein: The True Story  (Read 1338 times)
GCCC
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« on: September 03, 2015, 05:46:39 am »

A made-for-TV movie, aired over two nights, from 1973.

Starring Captain Nemo, Romeo, and Doctor Quinn, Medicine Woman, and featuring Ducky (or Illya Kuryakin, depending on your age). Also, a cameo by Doctor Who.

Frankenstein: The True Story (1973)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ElGLzwvdi-I

« Last Edit: October 02, 2015, 10:59:49 am by GCCC » Logged
Rockula
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« Reply #1 on: September 03, 2015, 12:32:36 pm »

I loved this the first time I saw it.

And they showed it again in 1977 the same week that 'Count Dracula' (Louis Jordan) was first aired.
And every Summer from 1975 to 1981 (and again in 1983) BBC2 ran a season of horror double bills.

It was a great time for horror fans, especially Hammer and Universal.
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« Reply #2 on: September 03, 2015, 04:15:42 pm »

Ah, Hammer and Universal...They don't make 'em like that anymore. Cry
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Miranda.T
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« Reply #3 on: September 03, 2015, 06:26:56 pm »

I remember that one; I liked the twist that the creature stated off as 'perfect' and then degenerated due to tissue rejection.

This has got me thinking - what is the best stab at Frankenstein: The Modern Prometheus on film? Is it one such as this which takes the old story and gives it a twist, or something that sticks closely to the book, or is any disucussion moot as James Whale cast too long a shadow over all the subsequent versions? One I'd like to suggest which does not fit the bill is Mary Shelley's Frankenstein (the film I hasten to add, not the novel!)

Yours,
Miranda.
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« Reply #4 on: September 03, 2015, 06:58:34 pm »

I liked the technology used in that one though.
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« Reply #5 on: September 03, 2015, 07:53:07 pm »

...This has got me thinking - what is the best stab at Frankenstein, or The Modern Prometheus on film? Is it one such as this which takes the old story and gives it a twist, or something that sticks closely to the book, or is any discussion moot as James Whale cast too long a shadow over all the subsequent versions?...
Yours,
Miranda.


Ooo...Very thorny topic.

As with its literary bookmark, Dracula, there has never been a "definitive" version. Even when they adhere (relatively) closely to their source novels (Bram Stoker's Dracula, Mary Shelly's Frankenstein, the Louis Jourdan Dracula for the BBC, the Patrick Bergen/Randy Quaid TNT production of Frankenstein), they all at some point veer away from the original tale to give each its own "twist" or "take".*

And you're right:  the 1931 film is the film all the others have to beat. Karloff and Lugosi created the cinematic tropes for their respective roles. And Karloff managed to accomplish so, so much more with no dialogue than any of his successors who had dialogue (sorry, Robert DeNiro!). Everyone's either trying to "do" Karloff and failing miserably, or adhere to the novel's characterization (extremely verbose) and losing both the pathos and the terror of the creation in the process.**

Now, both the Coppola-involved adaptations, while still veering from their source novels, at least had the distinction of including all the (speaking) characters, which had not been seen in film previously. However, BSD was not as good a film, nor as enjoyable, as either the Jourdan (1977) or Langella (1979) versions, while the same can be said of MSF against (most) of the Hammer films***, the film that began this thread, or even Whale's classic (which, again, is still the reigning heavyweight champion).

Now, a quick caveat:  I have not yet had the opportunity to see 1977's Swiss/Irish production of Terror of Frankenstein (original title:  Victor Frankenstein), featuring an actor named Per Oscarsson as the Monster. There is a general consensus among fellow horror nerds who have seen it that this one is the most faithful to the novel. If I ever have the chance to view it, I'll chime back in with my own opinion.

So to answer your question, what is the best stab at Frankenstein, or The Modern Prometheus on film? While it can be said that each version brings something to the table and they all have their merits, we haven't had a "best" stab, yet. Some have come close, but no one's gotten a cigar.

Oh, wait...
Spoiler (click to show/hide)

And, yes, the shadow of the combined genius of James Whale/Boris Karloff/Jack Pierce will continue to cast too long a shadow, one so great that even if a definitive version is made, it will still have to contend with the classic.



*This begs the question:  How close can one hew to a source novel and still make a great movie? In some cases, very close; in others, a strict transliteration from page to screen would be a slog. Every film adaptation of a classic novel has to contend with this very issue.

**Probably Karloff's best assaying of the role would be in The Bride of Frankenstein. Although we felt the Monster's wonderment at seeing daylight for the first time and his distress after accidentally drowning little Maria in the previous film (not quite comprehending what he's done, but knowing it was very, very bad), it is here that we see the full range of his conflicting emotions. Who has not shed at least a small tear at the end of the scene in the hermit's hut (before the hunters break in)? And shared his hope (who wasn't rooting for him?) and then his despair after the Bride rejects him?
Oddly enough, Karloff always maintained that it was a mistake to give the Monster speech. I, and Karloff's own daughter, Sarah, as well as thousands if not millions of others, disagree.

***Perhaps the most egregiously missed opportunity for a "best" version was when Hammer decided to ape Universal instead of creating something more in line with Mary Shelly's novel. Can you imagine...Christopher Lee as the Monster...speaking? The discourse and debate from the novel between the two antagonists in the hands of two of the most talented, yet criminally underused, actors Britain has ever produced? If that had happened, we likely could have closed the debate then and there.
(Man; I think I just gave myself a nerdgasm...)
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Miranda.T
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« Reply #6 on: September 05, 2015, 12:29:55 am »

Dear GCCC,
I have to say I agree completely with your analysis; nothing since has really topped those two Whale films. The casting, the sets that influenced pretty much every subsequent film and that design for the creature. Although saying that, I really quite liked the design for the creature in Van Helsing. Now, I know that film gets its fair share of critisism, but one should not view it as a horror movie or compare it to the classic Universal films; rather, it's an action-adventure flick with far more in common with, say, an Avengers or X-Men romp. Taken as such, I think its quite an enjoyable bit of escapism, and I particularly like the design work in it, from costumes through to creatures, particularly, as noted, the monster.

I also wholeheartedly agree that Mr Cushing and Mr Lee are both entirely underated. Very sad that we lost Christopher Lee earlier this year; even with just a cameo role, as he tended to make in the last few years, he brought a gravitas to the production, and although I'd go with Universal for Frankenstein, for me Hammer, in no small account due to Christopher Lee, has Dracula.

Yours,
Miranda.

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GCCC
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« Reply #7 on: September 08, 2015, 03:38:17 pm »

I also like the character design for the Monster from Van Helsing (sadly, virtually nothing else). It is probably the best "original"/nod to the original design I've seen, even 'though the film makers didn't "get" aspects of the brilliant Pierce design (Summers has everywhere, perhaps most notably on the DVD extras from the Universal Legacy collection, referred to the electrodes as "bolts", as 'though the creature's head is somehow attached by the things, and they are clearly bolts rather than a medium for electricity in the film). Unfortunately, I don't care for the Monster's portrayal, which, as Shuler Hensley himself is a very talented actor, I lay blame at the feet of the script and director (let's face it; apart from from hurling a huge piece of laboratory equipment from some distance in the opening, he's a huge wuss and constantly being made someone's {noun} the whole film). I would dearly love to see Hensley and the Van Helsing makeup in a better movie.

And I also agree:  Christopher Lee totally rules; who else could command a scene and project such menace just by merely being there, with no dialogue?*



*Although, I would have liked to have seen John Carradine (for my money, the best actor to play Dracula for Universal), with that fabulous Shakespearean baritone/bass, assay the role in a "straight" production.
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« Reply #8 on: September 13, 2015, 02:28:07 am »

Yeah, I remember this one! It was the first real grown up horror movie I saw as a kid - my Grandmother let me stay up to watch it. Saw it again as an adult and I remembered every horror scene beat for beat. Was surprised by how much gay subtext there was in it, but I guess that went over my head the first time.
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« Reply #9 on: September 13, 2015, 02:40:57 pm »

Indeed; although, if I remember correctly, it did not go unmentioned by film critics at the time.
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« Reply #10 on: September 13, 2015, 11:53:57 pm »

Did they? I thought it might have flown under the radar in the seventies, but then I guess it wasn't exactly subtle.

Anyway, on the question of best adaptation, I'm not sure you could make a good adaptation of Mary Shelley's novel, just because it is structured so differently to what viewers would expect, particularly horror viewers. The horror comes early on, many of the most gristly bits happen off-screen or in flashback and the third act is one of declining rather than rising action.

That's not meant to be a knock on the novel, which is one of my all time favorites, but like I say it's just so different to how modern films are structured. I think attempting to graft a modern film structure on a Regency novel is what turned Kenneth Brannagh's Frankenstein into such a mess. Well, that and Kenneth Brannagh.

If you want an enjoyable but completely non-authentic version of Frankenstein, check out Mad Monster Party.
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« Reply #11 on: September 14, 2015, 12:11:32 am »

Ha! I love that old Rankin-Bass classic. Too bad it's not rebroadcast as often as it deserves.
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« Reply #12 on: October 02, 2015, 08:27:13 am »

Giving this a bump for Halloween.


http://gifsgallery.com/young+frankenstein+gif
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« Reply #13 on: October 31, 2015, 07:14:07 pm »

For Miranda T. (and others, of course):  This review touches on much of what we've discussed about why this film is so iconic and is "the one to beat".

Halloween Horror Movies 2015 - Day 15 - FRANKENSTEIN
http://www.dailykos.com/story/2015/10/15/1425579/-Halloween-Horror-Movies-2015-Day-15-FRANKENSTEIN

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Miranda.T
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« Reply #14 on: November 02, 2015, 07:31:10 pm »

Many thanks for these links - I shall enjoy reading through them along with the others in the series!

Yours,
Miranda.
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GCCC
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« Reply #15 on: November 02, 2015, 10:14:46 pm »

Careful with many of the others in his series; he doesn't know horror films as well as he thinks, and he contradicts himself often. The ones for this and Nosferatu are two of his better ones.
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Miranda.T
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« Reply #16 on: November 10, 2015, 08:55:42 pm »

Yet another variant on the story - http://www.victorfrankensteintickets.co.uk/trailer.

Yours,
Miranda.
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Miranda.T
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« Reply #17 on: December 03, 2015, 09:21:09 pm »

Yet another variant on the story - http://www.victorfrankensteintickets.co.uk/trailer.

Yours,
Miranda.


I saw a review of this on BBC's Film 2015 last night - it was not very complementary...

Yours,
Miranda.
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« Reply #18 on: December 04, 2015, 11:16:52 am »

I rather enjoyed this often overlooked version

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0368730/fullcredits/
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« Reply #19 on: March 14, 2016, 11:26:52 pm »

Yet another variant on the story - http://www.victorfrankensteintickets.co.uk/trailer.

Yours,
Miranda.


I saw a review of this on BBC's Film 2015 last night - it was not very complementary...

Yours,
Miranda.


Oh, my... Have you seen this film yet? I had to wait for it to show up for rental, because I blinked and it was gone from theaters before I knew it had started showing.

I rather enjoyed this often overlooked version

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0368730/fullcredits/


Agreed; it is a rather nice version. The creation scene, while low-key compared to other productions, is probably closest to what Mary Shelly had going on in her head when she wrote it. The creature, however, lacks the physical menace one would expect to see in a being whose very appearance is supposed to elicit terror and revulsion. But, is that my modern take? Would that have prompted those levels of the sort of running away, fainting, fear inducing reactions to people of the Regency era?
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« Reply #20 on: March 15, 2016, 12:12:45 pm »

I rather enjoyed this often overlooked version

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0368730/fullcredits/


Agreed; it is a rather nice version. The creation scene, while low-key compared to other productions, is probably closest to what Mary Shelly had going on in her head when she wrote it. The creature, however, lacks the physical menace one would expect to see in a being whose very appearance is supposed to elicit terror and revulsion. But, is that my modern take? Would that have prompted those levels of the sort of running away, fainting, fear inducing reactions to people of the Regency era?
I don't know about that, I've always found Luke Goss fairly revolting to look at.
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GCCC
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« Reply #21 on: March 15, 2016, 07:53:28 pm »

 Cheesy
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