RedRiver wrote:I had fun watching "Ghost of Frank". The first half is much better than the conclusion. Once they get into "who gets what brain," it becomes forced and cliched. When Frank starts speaking in Igor's voice, it's downright silly! But earlier portions of the film are effective. There's an expressionistic look to the sets, making Lon, Jr look ten feet tall. The stuff with the little girl is unforgettable. I know this because I first saw it fifty years ago!
The film was directed by Erle C. Kenton. Mr. Kenton piloted a couple of the "House of..." horror films. A lot of stuff I've never heard of. But he was also the talent behind the chilling ISLAND OF LOST SOULS. This explains the impressive atmosphere injected into some pretty mediocre projects.
Next week on Svengoolie...I'm not sure!
Well said, Red. Since I had never seen this movie, I really enjoyed the build-up a lot and even spotted an uncredited Dwight Frye
among the villagers who were so eager to blow up the castle. How sad that he didn't even get a nod in the credits!
Those townies in the village of Frankenstein really needed to switch to decaf or get a softball team going to get that energy focused on something other than their monster problems, don't you think?
Thanks for the heads up about Erle C. Kenton. I didn't connect him with Island of Lost Souls
, but that credit makes him pretty impressive.
Because of the dramatic difference between the first and second halves of the movie and its relative brevity, I wonder if they had a completed script when they began filming with breakout star Lon Chaney
(Universal dropped the Jr. part in the credits, to the actor's chagrin) just after The Wolf Man
burst on the scene with spectacular success. Those ominous, expressionistic standing sets used from previous horror classics really were impressive, as was the lighting of all the exteriors (thanks to Woody Bredell
and Milton R. Krasner
and crew) though poor Chaney
's ability to give an expressive performance seemed to be hampered by heavier than usual makeup from Jack Pierce
. His flat-top head looked awfully rubbery in closeups and those heavy eyelids made me think the poor monster had myasthenia gravis in addition to all his other troubles. Of course, since Lon was reportedly a bit of a tippler, he may have had a hangover, giving his orbital socket some extra pouches anyway, I suppose. From what I've read, Pierce and Chaney did not get along very well. Not entirely surprisingly, reportedly Chaney
at one point had a terrible problem with a rash on his head and neck caused by the layers of makeup but Pierce
's assistant refused to take it off the actor, fearing his boss' wrath. Lon Chaney, Jr.
ripped it off, causing part of his forehead to come off with it! Was it me or didn't Boris Karloff's makeup seem more organic--or as organic as a guy who was made up of spare parts can be?
I was ambivalent about Cedric Hardwicke
's one-note grimly determined performance and was a bit disappointed, until he started to have conversations with the ghost of his father (played by Cedric as well), though Lionel Atwill
almost made up for it since he really did bring a nice glint of arrogant creepiness to his part as the doctor frustrated by having his career overshadowed by a Frankenstein.
Bela Lugosi as Ygor was pretty entertaining and more coherent than usual, (I wonder if they dubbed him?) though I thought his eagerness "to be one" with his friend the Monster almost bordered on the prurient, though that is probably just me reading something bad into his friendship with his fellow outcast.
Why was Evelyn Ankers even in this movie? Just to give Ralph Bellamy's slightly pompous but rational law man a romantic partner? Playing Hardwicke
's child, there seemed to be no bond between the two--though I have to admit I enjoyed seeing Anker
's strangely funny duds around the mansion, (I think she had a bedazzler stashed away) but this one that looked like bear claws on her front and back was my favorite:
Every time Janet Ann Gallow
was on-screen there was no one else but her who mattered--even the monster couldn't compete with her gentle little mug and remarkably poised serenity. My only quibble was that even the Monster didn't really seem to believe that his impulse to take Cloestine's brain was really a wise choice, though the two had chemistry.
Here's an interview with the one-time child actress, who is still around and active today:
http://gammillustrations.bizland.com/mo ... llow1.html