Frankenstein


1h 11m 1931
Frankenstein

Brief Synopsis

A crazed scientist creates a living being from body parts, not realizing it has a madman's brain.

Film Details

Genre
Horror
Adaptation
Sci-Fi
Release Date
Nov 21, 1931
Premiere Information
not available
Production Company
Universal Pictures Corp.
Distribution Company
Universal Pictures Corp.
Country
United States
Screenplay Information
Based on the novel Frankenstein; or, the Modern Prometheus by Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley (London, 1818), and the composition of John L. Balderston from the play Frankenstein by Peggy Webling (England, 1927).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 11m
Sound
Mono (Western Electric Sound System)
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
8 reels

Synopsis

In a prologue, an announcer steps from behind a curtain to warn the audience of the horrifying nature of the film they are about to see. In the main story, at a funeral, Fritz, a dwarf, and young scientist Henry Frankenstein dig up a freshly buried body, claiming that the corpse is waiting for a new life. They also remove a man hanging from a gibbet, but his broken neck requires that a new brain be found. After Doctor Waldman's lecture at Goldstadt Medical College, Fritz sneaks in and, after dropping a bottle containing a normal brain, leaves with one containing the brain of a criminal. Meanwhile, in Henry's hometown, Victor Moritz visits Elizabeth, whom he loves. She has received a strange note from Henry her fiancé, who writes that his experiments preclude her from joining him. Concerned, Victor and Elizabeth visit Waldman, Henry's former professor, who explains that Henry had left the college to pursue a mad dream of recreating human life. Together the three go to Henry's laboratory, a watchtower in the mountains. There, Henry and Fritz are preparing to use the power of lightning to charge their electrical mechanisms and give life to a body they have pieced together. Henry agrees to let his friends observe and explains his scientific theories as his creation comes to life. Later Victor and Elizabeth attempt to pacify Henry's doubting father, Baron Frankenstein, who is only interested in promoting the date of his son's wedding. At the laboratory, while Waldman tells Henry of the monster's criminal brain, Fritz torments the monster and the monster kills him. After a fight, Henry and Waldman sedate the monster just as the baron approaches the lab. The exhausted Henry is taken home after Waldman promises to destroy the monster, but instead Waldman is killed by the escaping monster. As the wedding of Elizabeth and Henry is celebrated, the monster drowns Little Maria, a village child who plays with him, then menaces Elizabeth. Ludwig, Maria's father, carries his daughter's body into town, and an angry search party is formed. They go through the mountains by torchlight until Henry finds the monster, and the two engage in a struggle that continues in an abandoned mill, where the monster has fled. The mob sets the mill ablaze, and the monster hurls Henry to the ground before being engulfed by flames. Later, the baron celebrates the wedding of his recovered son with a toast to a future grandchild.

Photo Collections

Frankenstein - Lobby Cards
Here are several Lobby Cards from Universal's Frankenstein (1931), starring Colin Clive, Mae Clarke, and Boris Karloff. Lobby Cards were 11" x 14" posters that came in sets of 8. As the name implies, they were most often displayed in movie theater lobbies, to advertise current or coming attractions.

Videos

Movie Clip

Trailer

Hosted Intro

Promo

Film Details

Genre
Horror
Adaptation
Sci-Fi
Release Date
Nov 21, 1931
Premiere Information
not available
Production Company
Universal Pictures Corp.
Distribution Company
Universal Pictures Corp.
Country
United States
Screenplay Information
Based on the novel Frankenstein; or, the Modern Prometheus by Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley (London, 1818), and the composition of John L. Balderston from the play Frankenstein by Peggy Webling (England, 1927).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 11m
Sound
Mono (Western Electric Sound System)
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
8 reels

Articles

Frankenstein (1931)


Director James Whale's adaptation of Mary Shelley's novel Frankenstein became an instant horror classic when it premiered in Santa Barbara in 1931. As remarkable for its grasp of elemental horror as it is for its visually arresting set design, the groundbreaking Universal film set a new standard for the genre that has continued to influence contemporary film.

Frankenstein opens on an eerie, atmospheric note at a hillside funeral that looks like a set piece for the German Expressionist film The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1919). Whale, in fact, screened Caligari as well as The Golem (1922) and Metropolis (1927) to refresh his memory of German Expressionism, a notable influence on the striking look of his Frankenstein.

Assisted by the hunchback Fritz (Dwight Frye), probably the most famous mentally deficient sidekick in horror cinema, Dr. Frankenstein (Colin Clive) can be seen in the film's opening waiting for the funeral to end so that he can dig a freshly buried corpse out of its final resting place before skulking back to his gothic lab. That night Dr. Frankenstein sends Fritz to a local university to carry out the final step in his reanimation project -- to steal a brain to use in their experiment crafted from stitched-together corpses. But Fritz mistakenly selects an "abnormal" criminal brain, which when placed in the creature unleashes terror on their small Bavarian village.

The scene where the Monster inadvertently drowns a village girl Maria (Marilyn Harris) was deemed too shocking and deleted from the film upon its original release, though it was later reinstated. Mindful of the macabre aspects of its production, Universal also added a prologue to the film, spoken by Edward Van Sloan (who also provided an epilogue, now lost, to Dracula,1931) was also added, to warn viewers of the shocking nature of what lay ahead.

Though Frankenstein had been made into other film versions, including a 1910 Edison Company production, a 1915 version called Life Without Soul and the Italian Master of Frankenstein in 1920, none of them offered as memorable a movie monster as the one created by Boris Karloff. And though a flurry of movies were inspired by Whale's penultimate horror film: The Bride of Frankenstein (1935), Ghost of Frankenstein (1942) and many others, none has yet matched the original power of a film which broke important ground in two regards: in its representation of a scientist who tampers with power reserved for God and of a monster who is not entirely evil, but has sympathetic qualities too.

Tod Browning's Dracula, released 10 months prior to Frankenstein, had a significant impact on Whale's film. Dwight Frye, as Fritz, had also played Dracula's half-wit assistant Renfield in Browning's production of Bram Stoker's novel and that film's Van Helsing - Edward Van Sloan - was recast in Frankenstein as Dr. Waldman. And Bela Lugosi as Count Dracula was so memorable and successful in that film he was initially cast to play the Monster in Frankenstein. Lugosi, however, was said to be outraged by the prospect of playing such a one-dimensional half-wit, preferring the role of Dr. Frankenstein. Nevertheless, he attempted to play the monster but his interpretation was deemed too sensitive and understated. Though Shelley's 1816 novel had featured a sympathetic monster, Universal wanted a more sinister creature so they hired 43-year-old B-movie veteran Karloff to play the role and the actor worked hard with Universal's makeup artist Jack Pierce to insure that their malevolent creation would be unforgettable.

Pierce, who also created the look of Bela Lugosi's Dracula, researched the look of the Monster for three months. Pierce studied anatomy, surgery, medicine, criminal history, criminology, burial customs and electrodynamics, before he even began the grueling daily 5 hour make-up application (followed by two hours of make-up removal) to create Frankenstein.

As part of creating this innovative movie monster, Karloff was also given boots to increase his height to seven feet six inches. The boots weighed a cumbersome 30 pounds, and were combined with steel struts on Karloff's legs to give the reanimated beast his signature lurching walk, part nightmare, part toddler. Ultimately, this Monster created by Karloff, Pierce and Whale did have poignance and played upon viewers' sympathies, causing some to see the Monster as a stand-in for the troubled director himself, who also yearned for understanding.

The struggle of bringing this monster to life on the screen was considerable and caused Karloff to lose 20 pounds over the six weeks it took to film Frankenstein. The strain of carrying Dr. Frankenstein to the summit of a windmill at the film's climax was so great, in fact, that Karloff required hospitalization for back problems.

Though Karloff's performance went unappreciated by the Universal Studios executives, which even excluded the actor from the movie's premiere, Karloff sufficiently impressed his movie audiences. Many viewers were reportedly so terrified by his appearance they fled from the theater in fear. Karloff called the Monster his favorite film role and film history has tended to agree with him -- the actor was identified with the part until the day he died.

In addition to its classic status in the annals of movie making, Whale's Frankenstein was an enormous financial success. Made for only $250,000, the film returned $12 million upon its release.

The production history surrounding Frankenstein is as fascinating as the film itself. Bette Davis was initially considered for the role of the delicate Elizabeth, but Whale -- probably rightly -- believed that Davis was too aggressive to play an ethereal horror movie victim. Instead, Mae Clarke was tapped for the role, an actress best remembered as the dame who gets a face full of grapefruit from James Cagney in The Public Enemy (1931).

Though referred to simply as "the Monster" in Shelley's novel, it is one of the quirks of history that this movie monster's name was so often confused with his symbolic father and creator, Dr. Frankenstein. But in Karloff's hands, the Monster turned out to be a greater star than the titular scientist who created him and ever since the name Frankenstein is synonymous with the monster, not the doctor.

Director: James Whale
Producer: Carl Laemmle, Jr. for Universal
Screenplay: Garrett Fort and Francis Faragoh; based on John Balderston's adaptation of the novel of the same name by Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley
Cinematography: Arthur Edeson
Production Design: Charles D. Hall
Music: David Broekman
Cast: Colin Clive (Dr. Henry Frankenstein), Boris Karloff (The Monster), Mae Clarke (Elizabeth), John Boles (Victor), Edward Van Sloan (Dr. Waldman), Dwight Frye (Fritz, the Dwarf), Frederick Kerr (Baron Frankenstein).
BW-71m. Closed captioning.

by Felicia Feaster
Frankenstein (1931)

Frankenstein (1931)

Director James Whale's adaptation of Mary Shelley's novel Frankenstein became an instant horror classic when it premiered in Santa Barbara in 1931. As remarkable for its grasp of elemental horror as it is for its visually arresting set design, the groundbreaking Universal film set a new standard for the genre that has continued to influence contemporary film. Frankenstein opens on an eerie, atmospheric note at a hillside funeral that looks like a set piece for the German Expressionist film The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1919). Whale, in fact, screened Caligari as well as The Golem (1922) and Metropolis (1927) to refresh his memory of German Expressionism, a notable influence on the striking look of his Frankenstein. Assisted by the hunchback Fritz (Dwight Frye), probably the most famous mentally deficient sidekick in horror cinema, Dr. Frankenstein (Colin Clive) can be seen in the film's opening waiting for the funeral to end so that he can dig a freshly buried corpse out of its final resting place before skulking back to his gothic lab. That night Dr. Frankenstein sends Fritz to a local university to carry out the final step in his reanimation project -- to steal a brain to use in their experiment crafted from stitched-together corpses. But Fritz mistakenly selects an "abnormal" criminal brain, which when placed in the creature unleashes terror on their small Bavarian village. The scene where the Monster inadvertently drowns a village girl Maria (Marilyn Harris) was deemed too shocking and deleted from the film upon its original release, though it was later reinstated. Mindful of the macabre aspects of its production, Universal also added a prologue to the film, spoken by Edward Van Sloan (who also provided an epilogue, now lost, to Dracula,1931) was also added, to warn viewers of the shocking nature of what lay ahead. Though Frankenstein had been made into other film versions, including a 1910 Edison Company production, a 1915 version called Life Without Soul and the Italian Master of Frankenstein in 1920, none of them offered as memorable a movie monster as the one created by Boris Karloff. And though a flurry of movies were inspired by Whale's penultimate horror film: The Bride of Frankenstein (1935), Ghost of Frankenstein (1942) and many others, none has yet matched the original power of a film which broke important ground in two regards: in its representation of a scientist who tampers with power reserved for God and of a monster who is not entirely evil, but has sympathetic qualities too. Tod Browning's Dracula, released 10 months prior to Frankenstein, had a significant impact on Whale's film. Dwight Frye, as Fritz, had also played Dracula's half-wit assistant Renfield in Browning's production of Bram Stoker's novel and that film's Van Helsing - Edward Van Sloan - was recast in Frankenstein as Dr. Waldman. And Bela Lugosi as Count Dracula was so memorable and successful in that film he was initially cast to play the Monster in Frankenstein. Lugosi, however, was said to be outraged by the prospect of playing such a one-dimensional half-wit, preferring the role of Dr. Frankenstein. Nevertheless, he attempted to play the monster but his interpretation was deemed too sensitive and understated. Though Shelley's 1816 novel had featured a sympathetic monster, Universal wanted a more sinister creature so they hired 43-year-old B-movie veteran Karloff to play the role and the actor worked hard with Universal's makeup artist Jack Pierce to insure that their malevolent creation would be unforgettable. Pierce, who also created the look of Bela Lugosi's Dracula, researched the look of the Monster for three months. Pierce studied anatomy, surgery, medicine, criminal history, criminology, burial customs and electrodynamics, before he even began the grueling daily 5 hour make-up application (followed by two hours of make-up removal) to create Frankenstein. As part of creating this innovative movie monster, Karloff was also given boots to increase his height to seven feet six inches. The boots weighed a cumbersome 30 pounds, and were combined with steel struts on Karloff's legs to give the reanimated beast his signature lurching walk, part nightmare, part toddler. Ultimately, this Monster created by Karloff, Pierce and Whale did have poignance and played upon viewers' sympathies, causing some to see the Monster as a stand-in for the troubled director himself, who also yearned for understanding. The struggle of bringing this monster to life on the screen was considerable and caused Karloff to lose 20 pounds over the six weeks it took to film Frankenstein. The strain of carrying Dr. Frankenstein to the summit of a windmill at the film's climax was so great, in fact, that Karloff required hospitalization for back problems. Though Karloff's performance went unappreciated by the Universal Studios executives, which even excluded the actor from the movie's premiere, Karloff sufficiently impressed his movie audiences. Many viewers were reportedly so terrified by his appearance they fled from the theater in fear. Karloff called the Monster his favorite film role and film history has tended to agree with him -- the actor was identified with the part until the day he died. In addition to its classic status in the annals of movie making, Whale's Frankenstein was an enormous financial success. Made for only $250,000, the film returned $12 million upon its release. The production history surrounding Frankenstein is as fascinating as the film itself. Bette Davis was initially considered for the role of the delicate Elizabeth, but Whale -- probably rightly -- believed that Davis was too aggressive to play an ethereal horror movie victim. Instead, Mae Clarke was tapped for the role, an actress best remembered as the dame who gets a face full of grapefruit from James Cagney in The Public Enemy (1931). Though referred to simply as "the Monster" in Shelley's novel, it is one of the quirks of history that this movie monster's name was so often confused with his symbolic father and creator, Dr. Frankenstein. But in Karloff's hands, the Monster turned out to be a greater star than the titular scientist who created him and ever since the name Frankenstein is synonymous with the monster, not the doctor. Director: James Whale Producer: Carl Laemmle, Jr. for Universal Screenplay: Garrett Fort and Francis Faragoh; based on John Balderston's adaptation of the novel of the same name by Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley Cinematography: Arthur Edeson Production Design: Charles D. Hall Music: David Broekman Cast: Colin Clive (Dr. Henry Frankenstein), Boris Karloff (The Monster), Mae Clarke (Elizabeth), John Boles (Victor), Edward Van Sloan (Dr. Waldman), Dwight Frye (Fritz, the Dwarf), Frederick Kerr (Baron Frankenstein). BW-71m. Closed captioning. by Felicia Feaster

Young Frankenstein Screening on Oct. 16th in Omaha, Nebraska With Special Guest Cloris Leachman


On Friday Oct. 16th. Bruce Crawford will host his 25th classic film salute in Omaha Ne. with a 35th.Anniversary tribute to Mel Brooks' classic Young Frankenstein (1974) with special guest legendary actress Cloris Leachman. The time and location: 7pm at the Joslyn Art Museum's Witherspoon Hall theater, 2200 Dodge St. Omaha Ne.

Just in time for Halloween, there will be reenactors in makeup and costume recreating Peter Boyles' Monster and Madeline Kahns' "Bride of Frankenstein" and Marty Feldman's Igor!

Ms. Leachman will also autograph copies of her best selling autobiography after the screening. All seats are $20 (a benefit for the Omaha Hearing School for Children Inc.) and available at Omaha area Hy-Vee food stores customer service counters or call 402-558-1546 for more information.

As much a Valentine to Universal's 1930s horror movies as a spoof of them, Young Frankenstein (1974) is one of Mel Brooks' funniest films, along with being his most polished and atmospheric. Beautifully filmed in black and white on some of the original Frankenstein sets, using the old 1:85 aspect ratio and a similar film stock, the movie displays a thorough knowledge of and respect for the old films, along with a deliciously heightened sense of their more ridiculous aspects.

Gene Wilder, who came up with the idea for the film and served as Brooks' co-writer, stars as Dr. Frederick Frankenstein, the grandson of the mad scientist who created the original monster. To distance himself from his history, Frederick insists upon pronouncing the family name as "Frahkensteen." But a visit to the family castle and an encounter with the mysterious Frau Blucher (Cloris Leachman) soon has the grandson putting together his own monstrosity in the form of Peter Boyle -- who, as the new monster, sports a zipper around his neck. Adding immeasurably to the good-natured fun are Marty Feldman as Frederick's pop-eyed assistant, Igor; Madeline Kahn as his high-strung fiancee, Elizabeth; Teri Garr as the busty peasant girl, Inga; Gene Hackman as a blind hermit; and Kenneth Mars as a wooden-armed inspector inspired by Lionel Atwill in Son of Frankenstein (1939).

Kahn originally turned down the role of Inga in favor of playing Elizabeth. She later changed her mind, but it was too late because Garr had already been cast as Inga. Brooks, who "appears" in the film in the form of a gargoyle modeled after him, also voiced the off-screen sounds of a howling wolf and a screaming cat that's hit by a dart -- with the latter effect ad libbed by the director on the set. Another on-the-spot ad lib was Gene Hackman's "I was gonna make espresso" as the monster leaves the hermit's house. The name on the third brain when Igor makes his selection is that of the movie's assistant property master, Charles Sertin. A village guesthouse is named Gausthaus Gruskoff in honor of producer Michael Gruskoff.

Brooks reportedly was so reluctant to end the fun-filled 20th Century Fox production that he kept adding scenes so the company could remain together and continue shooting. He lost his temper only once during filming, becoming so upset that he threw a tantrum with Wilder and stormed out of the studio. Before long, however, he was on the telephone with Wilder saying, "Who was that lunatic yelling and screaming on the set today? You should fire that bum!"

Producer: Michael Gruskoff
Director: Mel Brooks
Screenplay: Gene Wilder and Mel Brooks, from the Mary Shelley novel Frankenstein
Cinematography: Gerald Hirschfeld
Production Design: Dale Hennesy
Original Music: John Morris
Editing: John C. Howard
Costume Design: Dorothy Jeakins
Cast: Gene Wilder (Dr. Frederick Frankenstein), Peter Boyle (The Monster), Marty Feldman (Igor), Madeline Kahn (Elizabeth), Cloris Leachman (Frau Blucher), Teri Garr (Inga), Kenneth Mars (Police Inspector Hans Wilhelm Friederich Kemp), Gene Hackman (Harold, the Blind Man).

by Roger Fristoe

Young Frankenstein Screening on Oct. 16th in Omaha, Nebraska With Special Guest Cloris Leachman

On Friday Oct. 16th. Bruce Crawford will host his 25th classic film salute in Omaha Ne. with a 35th.Anniversary tribute to Mel Brooks' classic Young Frankenstein (1974) with special guest legendary actress Cloris Leachman. The time and location: 7pm at the Joslyn Art Museum's Witherspoon Hall theater, 2200 Dodge St. Omaha Ne. Just in time for Halloween, there will be reenactors in makeup and costume recreating Peter Boyles' Monster and Madeline Kahns' "Bride of Frankenstein" and Marty Feldman's Igor! Ms. Leachman will also autograph copies of her best selling autobiography after the screening. All seats are $20 (a benefit for the Omaha Hearing School for Children Inc.) and available at Omaha area Hy-Vee food stores customer service counters or call 402-558-1546 for more information. As much a Valentine to Universal's 1930s horror movies as a spoof of them, Young Frankenstein (1974) is one of Mel Brooks' funniest films, along with being his most polished and atmospheric. Beautifully filmed in black and white on some of the original Frankenstein sets, using the old 1:85 aspect ratio and a similar film stock, the movie displays a thorough knowledge of and respect for the old films, along with a deliciously heightened sense of their more ridiculous aspects. Gene Wilder, who came up with the idea for the film and served as Brooks' co-writer, stars as Dr. Frederick Frankenstein, the grandson of the mad scientist who created the original monster. To distance himself from his history, Frederick insists upon pronouncing the family name as "Frahkensteen." But a visit to the family castle and an encounter with the mysterious Frau Blucher (Cloris Leachman) soon has the grandson putting together his own monstrosity in the form of Peter Boyle -- who, as the new monster, sports a zipper around his neck. Adding immeasurably to the good-natured fun are Marty Feldman as Frederick's pop-eyed assistant, Igor; Madeline Kahn as his high-strung fiancee, Elizabeth; Teri Garr as the busty peasant girl, Inga; Gene Hackman as a blind hermit; and Kenneth Mars as a wooden-armed inspector inspired by Lionel Atwill in Son of Frankenstein (1939). Kahn originally turned down the role of Inga in favor of playing Elizabeth. She later changed her mind, but it was too late because Garr had already been cast as Inga. Brooks, who "appears" in the film in the form of a gargoyle modeled after him, also voiced the off-screen sounds of a howling wolf and a screaming cat that's hit by a dart -- with the latter effect ad libbed by the director on the set. Another on-the-spot ad lib was Gene Hackman's "I was gonna make espresso" as the monster leaves the hermit's house. The name on the third brain when Igor makes his selection is that of the movie's assistant property master, Charles Sertin. A village guesthouse is named Gausthaus Gruskoff in honor of producer Michael Gruskoff. Brooks reportedly was so reluctant to end the fun-filled 20th Century Fox production that he kept adding scenes so the company could remain together and continue shooting. He lost his temper only once during filming, becoming so upset that he threw a tantrum with Wilder and stormed out of the studio. Before long, however, he was on the telephone with Wilder saying, "Who was that lunatic yelling and screaming on the set today? You should fire that bum!" Producer: Michael Gruskoff Director: Mel Brooks Screenplay: Gene Wilder and Mel Brooks, from the Mary Shelley novel Frankenstein Cinematography: Gerald Hirschfeld Production Design: Dale Hennesy Original Music: John Morris Editing: John C. Howard Costume Design: Dorothy Jeakins Cast: Gene Wilder (Dr. Frederick Frankenstein), Peter Boyle (The Monster), Marty Feldman (Igor), Madeline Kahn (Elizabeth), Cloris Leachman (Frau Blucher), Teri Garr (Inga), Kenneth Mars (Police Inspector Hans Wilhelm Friederich Kemp), Gene Hackman (Harold, the Blind Man). by Roger Fristoe

Quotes

You're crazy!
- Victor Moritz
Crazy, am I? We'll see whether I'm crazy or not.
- Henry Frankenstein
Look! It's moving. It's alive. It's alive... It's alive, it's moving, it's alive, it's alive, it's alive, it's alive, IT'S ALIVE!
- Henry Frankenstein
Henry -- In the name of God!
- Victor Moritz
Oh, in the name of God! Now I know what it feels like to be God!
- Henry Frankenstein
The brain you stole, Fritz. Think of it. The brain of a dead man waiting to live again in a body I made with my own hands!
- Henry Frankenstein
The neck's broken. The brain is useless. We must find another brain.
- Dr. Henry Frankenstein
You're quite sure you want to come in? ...Very well.
- Dr. Henry Frankenstein
Forgive me, but I'm forced to take unusual precautions.
- Dr. Henry Frankenstein

Trivia

In one scene, the Monster (Boris Karloff) walks through a forest and comes upon a little girl, Maria, who is throwing flowers into a pond. The monster joins her in the activity but soon runs out of flowers. At a loss for something to throw into the water, he looks at Maria and moves toward her. In all American prints of the movie, the scene ends here. But as originally filmed, the action continues to show the monster grabbing Maria, hurling her into the lake, then departing in confusion when Maria fails to float as the flowers did. This bit was deleted because Karloff - objecting to the director's interpretation of the scene - felt that the monster should have gently put Maria into the lake. This scene is restored in the videocassette reissue.

Bela Lugosi was offered the role of the monster, but refused on the grounds that his character would not speak (though he eventually played the role in Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man (1943)). Lugosi also insisted on creating his own makeup for the Monster, but his design was rejected.

John Carradine turned down the part of the Monster because he considered himself too highly trained to be reduced to playing monsters.

After bringing the monster to life, Dr. Frankenstein uttered the famous line "Now I know what it's like to BE God!" The movie was originally released with this line of dialogue, but when it was re-released in the late '30s, censors demanded it be removed on the grounds that it was blasphemy. A loud clap of thunder was substituted on the soundtrack. The dialogue was partially restored on the video release, but since no decent recording of the dialogue could be found, it still appears garbled and indistinct. The censored dialog was partially returned to the soundtrack in the initial "restored version" releases. Further restoration has now completely brought back this line of missing dialog.

According to the TLC network program "Hunt for Amazing Treasures", a unique six-sheet poster for the original 1931 release, showing Karloff as The Monster menacing Mae Clarke, is worth at least $600,000 US and is possibly the most valuable movie poster in the world. The only known (original) copy is owned by a private collector.

Notes

Screen credits list "The Monster" as played by "?" in the opening cast list. The "?" is replaced by Boris Karloff's name in the end credits. Mary Shelley's name is given in the screen credits as Mrs. Percy B. Shelley. As the Shelley novel was in the public domain, Universal purchased the most recent in a century-long series of stage adaptations of Frankenstein. John L. Balderston's "composition" was a stage adaptation for an unrealized American production of Peggy Webling's British play, which was produced by the same company that presented the stage version of Dracula, another play Universal adapted.
       Credits in European prints replaced Francis Edwards Faragoh's name with that of Robert Florey, who, contemporary sources indicate, was originally set to direct, and who wrote the initial outline and collaborated on the screenplay with Garrett Fort from 15 May-June 20, 1931. Later, James Whale took over the project, replacing prospective star Bela Lugosi and cameraman Karl Freund, who were transferred along with Florey to Murders in the Rue Morgue (see below). Studio records reveal the Florey-Fort script was then revised by John Russell in July 1931, who introduced the famous plot device of the juxtaposition of the criminal and normal brain. Russell was eventually replaced by Faragoh, who completed his script by August 12, 1931. Faragoh gave speech to Fritz, softened the monster's brutality, and added humor. Richard Schayer received a standard credit as head of the Universal scenario department; in this capacity he made suggestions or arbitrated disputes but was not an actual collaborator. Shooting exceeded both schedule and budget predictions with a final cost of $291,129.
       Modern sources list the following additional credits: Spec elec prop Kenneth Strickfaden; Elec eff Raymond Lindsay; Electrial Frank Graves; Special Effects John Fulton; Technical Advisor Dr. Cecil Reynolds; Music Bernhard Kaun and Giuseppe Becce; Music Director David Broekman. Modern sources include in the cast Pauline Moore (Bridesmaid), Ted Billings (Villager), Inez Palange (Village lady), Paul Panzer (Mourner), Cecil Reynolds (Waldman's secretary), and note that Francis Ford also played a villager and medical school doctor. Some modern sources note that the set design of the windmill sequence was inspired by a building in Los Angeles that housed a local bakery, Van de Kamp, which displayed a large windmill as its corporate logo.
       The file for the film in the MPAA/PCA Collection at the AMPAS Library contains a letter, dated August 18, 1931, in which the Hays Office informed Universal that its only concerns about the film were "gruesome [scenes] that will certainly bring an audience reaction of horror." Specifically, the Hays Office urged the studio to use care in handling a scene showing the body of a hanged man, and another scene showing the dwarf hanging by a chain. The file also indicates that some regional censorship agencies made minor eliminations from the film before its release. Censors in Kansas cut a closeup shot of a hypodermic needle injection, and the scene in which Maria is carried in her father's arms. Censors in Quebec rejected the film in its entirety and petitioned Universal to either resubmit the film with a foreword or preface to indicate that the picture was a dream, or end the picture at the windmill scene and make a number of other cuts. The film was banned in Northern Ireland, Sweden and Italy in 1932, and in Czechoslovakia in 1935. Correspondence contained in the PCA file between Universal and the Hays Office in 1937 indicates that the studio, in order to make the picture acceptable for re-issue certification, agreed to eliminate dialogue in which the name of "God" is used, shorten the scene in which "Fritz" torments the monster with a lighted torch and eliminate the scene in which the monster tosses Maria into the water.
       Frankenstein was on New York Times list of "10 best" films for 1931, and was one of the top box office films of 1932. In 1986, three reportedly lost segments that had been deleted from the final release print were discovered, including a shot of the monster drowning Maria, which had gained considerable notoriety. These scenes extended the length of the picture to 72 minutes and were released by Universal on video as the "restored" version.
       Previous films based on Shelley's story were Frankenstein, produced by Edison Mfg. Corp. in 1910 and directed by J. Searle Dawley; and Life Without Soul, produced by Ocean Film Corp. in 1915 and directed by Joseph W. Smiley (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1911-20; F1.2472). An Italian version called Il Mostro di Frakestein [sic], directed by Eugenio Testa, was released in 1920. The first of numerous sequels to the 1931 Frankenstein were Universal's The Bride of Frankenstein, again directed by James Whale and starring Clive and Karloff; and Son of Frankenstein (see below), directed by Rowland V. Lee and starring Karloff, Bela Lugosi and Basil Rathbone. The 1931 Frankenstein was first re-released in 1937.
       Other versions of Shelley's novel include The Curse of Frankenstein, produced in England in 1957 and directed by Terence Young; a 1973 made-for-television version, Frankenstein: The True Story, directed by Jack Smight; and Mel Brooks' 1974 spoof of the early Universal films, Young Frankenstein. The opening sequence of the 2004 Universal production Van Helsing, directed by Stephen Sommers and starring Hugh Jackman and Shuler Hensley as the monster, was a shot-by-shot replication of a sequence in the 1931 film of Frankenstein bringing his monster to life. The image of Frankenstein's monster has been repeated many times since the release of this film in comic books and humorous skethes. Karloff himself assumed the partial appearance of the monster in the Broadway play Arsenic and Old Lace, and Raymond Massey did the same in the film adaptation of that play.

Miscellaneous Notes

Released in United States March 1975 (Shown at FILMEX: Los Angeles International Film Exposition (3-day James Whale Retrospective) March 13-26, 1975.)

Released in United States March 1976 (Shown at FILMEX: Los Angeles International Film Exposition (Midnight Monsters) March 18-31, 1976.)

Released in United States on Video August 3, 1994

Released in United States 1998

Released in United States Fall November 21, 1931

Released in United States March 1975

Released in United States March 1976

Released in United States on Video August 3, 1994

Re-released in United States on Video August 6, 1996

Shown at Film Forum Universal Horror Fesitval (Opening Night) in New York City October 30 - November 12, 1998.

Selected in 1991 for inclusion in the Library of Congress' National Film Registry.

Released in USA on laserdisc December 1988.

Released in United States 1998 (Shown at Film Forum Universal Horror Fesitval (Opening Night) in New York City October 30 - November 12, 1998.)

Re-released in United States on Video August 6, 1996

Released in United States Fall November 21, 1931