Welcome to the first week of a little media experiment I call “Andy's Film Club” AKA “Geeky Oprah's Book Club”. To summarize incase you're not up to speed, it's friends watching movies of my choosing over Netflix, commenting on them in a Facebook group, and writing it all up in these here pages. I can't say if this will be a success or not, but regardless I hope it'll perk your interests towards some wonderful films, and be amusing. Our first film, is the 1935 Universal classic, The Bride of Frankenstein.
I love The Bride of Frankenstein, it's one of my top ten favorite movies, and quickly became so when I saw it three years ago, shortly after seeing Frankenstein for the first time. Yes, I know, it took me a long time to finally see Frankenstein, and that's something I deeply regret. I only wish when I was younger someone had introduced me to the wonderfulness of Boris Karloff. It's also amazing that Bride is all that too rare of a beast. A sequel that's better than the original movie.
It's hard to imagine today, but the original Frankenstein was something of the Star Wars of the 1930s. It was, if you'll pardon the expression, a monster hit. And on the heels of Dracula, the success of the film was allowing Universal to rise above their reputation as a “low-tier” studio. Overnight, Boris Karloff became a box office star for Universal, in the same way James Cagney was at Warner Brothers. Naturally, Universal wanted to follow up the massive hit, with another movie.
However, the film's director, James Whale, had zero interest in making another film. Whale felt he said all that he could in the first time, and that the well was dry. Universal wouldn't let up, and finally a deal was made. If Whale would make Bride, the studio would, in turn, let Whale make any film he wanted to. Feeling there was no way he could top the first film, he decided to make Bride a “memorable hoot”. It's a great movie, one of the all time great American films. It's witty, smart, a touch of camp, and a beautiful movie to look at. The recent blu-ray release makes the film shine.
So what did the group think? Everyone enjoyed the film. I think some were surprised by how moving the film can be. Yes, The Bride of Frankenstein is a hoot, but it has a lot of heart. Everyone felt moved by the way the townspeople were treating the monster, which to me is the genius of James Whale and Boris Karloff. The monster is an unwanted child, an “abomination”. All he wants is to be loved and accepted, and instead people run in terror from him. I don't care how stone hearted you might be, but there is something truly beautiful about the hermit scene in the movie—which Mel Brooks so beautifully parodied in Young Frankenstein.
Many comments were made of the religious imagery in the film. One of the most notable spots being at the end of the hermit scene. As it fades out, the last thing to do so is an image of Jesus on the cross at the top of the frame. It wasn't commented on much at the time, but has become more aware to modern audiences. Time has been good to The Bride of Frankenstein. In 1998 it was added to the national film registry, and recently, Time Magazine made it on their list of the 100 best movies of all time.
If anything, the experiment of “Andy's Film Club” proved that in this modern world, with instant access to anything (one participant actually watched the movie on an iPhone), The Bride of Frankenstein still holds up. I hope you'll give it a look, if you haven't already. Next week, we continue with Billy Wilder's 1944 Noir classic, Double Indemnity.