Frankenstein (1931) James Whale
I haven’t seen a lot of the old monster movies, so I don’t have much of a point of comparison, but this one was great. I thought a lot about The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, particularly in the opening scenes - lots of canted angles, and a path that I expected Cesare to walk up at any moment. The photography is really beautiful, but I found myself wishing the camera would linger on a few particularly beautiful frames just a second or two longer - sneaking into the lecture hall, a moment in the monster’s cell, the mob moving across a field with that diagonal band of light. The vertical structures, reaching toward the heavens, are really striking.
The two main performances cannot go without comment either. Although both main characters are monsters in their own right, there is a deep human element in the portrayal of both. Dr. Frankenstein is completely recognizable as the tortured genius, reaching precarious heights - and fall he does. Boris Karloff, as Frankenstein’s monster, is a little laughable at times, but overall, really astonishing as a mad, tortured animal grasping for humanity.
Fritz is an asshole though (but also understandable in his slide from the biggest monster/ picked on, to the next-to-biggest monster/ picker on).
#168 - 7/28/2012