Monday, February 21, 2011

Son of Frankenstein (1939)

Three of Horror's greatest names come together for the first time in SON OF FRANKENSTEIN, featuring Basil Rathbone, Bela Lugosi, and Boris Karloff in his final performance as The Monster. Henry Frankenstein's heir returns to reclaim his heritage, but he is scorned by the villagers that fear he should continue in his father's devilish pursuits. After discovering the crooked Ygor living beneath the castle's laboratory, Baron Wolf von Frankenstein learns that his father's creation has survived destruction, and he sets out to revive The Monster in order to correct his father's grievous mistakes and finally clear the family name! While Basil Rathbone puts in another admirable performance as the titular character, it is Bela Lugosi who steals the show once more as the scheming Ygor. Karloff is given little room to excel, considering The Monster has very limited screen time and has lost the ability to speak. The film is quite aware of itself, and uses The Monster's notoriety to set up some of the poignant humor. Lionel Atwell's quirky performance as the armless Inspector Krogh also provides some laughs as he pesters the younger Frankenstein at every turn. Unfortunately, Wyllis Cooper's script lacks many of the complexities that were found in the previous two films, but director Rowland Lee does manage to bring back many of the brilliant Expressionist set pieces that adorned both FRANKENSTEIN and BRIDE. Although the role of The Monster has been greatly reduced in SON OF FRANKENSTEIN, the stronger themes of family obligation and morality make this a fitting entry in the series.

Rating: 8/10.

5 comments:

  1. You forgot one important note, Carl: 'Son of Frankenstein' is the basis of the plot for 'Young Frankenstein.'

    Without this 70+ year-old classic, we wouldn't have that 30+ year-old classic.

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  2. That is all sorts of true, I was thinking the same thing the whole time I was watching!

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  3. Hell, Gene Wilder even has the mustache!

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  4. From a perspective of pure entertainment SON OF FRANKENSTEIN is without a doubt the high point of Universal's FRANKENSTEIN series. This is entirely due to Bela Lugosi's scheming nutcase Ygor and Basil Rathbone's likeable and assured Baron. Boris Karloff doesn't make much of an impression in this one, but an icon is an icon...even in 1937. Although the direction is uninspired this is still my personal favourite and the one to which I return most often.

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  5. Ygor definitely carries the film, I loved Lugosi's performance here and Rathbone was good as well. A refreshing change from the mad scientist, and a conflicted character.

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