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SON OF FRANKENSTEIN


jwesm
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I have all the released Universal Horror films on various DVD sets. I think the latest was called The Legacy set. This morning I took a look at the TCM broadcast of SON OF FRANKENSTEIN, and I think it must be a new transfer as it looks great.

 

Being Universal's 100th, I know a few are coming to Blu Ray, but I think they are releasing several previous releases as standard DVD which I assume will be these updated transfers. Gosh, I wish they would put out all the classic monsters on Blu Ray, but I will rebuy even they are on standard DVD.

 

I don't know if the big fire wiped out the older transfers and they had to retransfer them or if they are just doing it because they can do it better now. I guess I best keep my DVD recorder handy. I seem to remember their broadcast of MURDERS IN THE RUE MORGUE looked sensational. Haven't done an A-B test yet, but the credits to SON didn't seem to have that very slight flicker the DVD did and it is sharp as a tack.

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I have the Legacy collections also, and actually have a couple of the films as additional sets (the Anniversary editions of Frankenstein, Dracula, and The Mummy). I'll believe it when I see it....and will probably makes the Universal horror classics my first such vintage buys on Blu-ray. The ones they are releasing are Frankenstein, Bride of Frankenstein, and Dracula. Whether they are using updated transfers and whether or not they ACTUALLY did any form of digital restoration, as I said, remains to be seen. The last couple of times they've simply repackaged their horror clasics WITHOUT doing any form of PROPER restoration or digital cleanup...and they actually didn't sell that well. Why would they, when Universal kept shoving the same transfers down our throats time and again? On some of the reissues, they appeared (to my eyes, anyway) to have BOOSTED the sharpness level to such an extent that there was an annoying crosshatch pattern in the image (what used to be called "RF interference" in the old days of tv). Reportedly, they claim to have done proper restorations for the Blu-ray releases...so we'll just have to wait and see. For a Blu-ray release, they would (logically, anyway) HAVE to do new HD transfers and couldn't have gone from the old masters, so even if the big fire destroyed previous masters, those would have been SD (standard definition) and wouldn't have looked as good as doing a fresh HD master from existing film sources.

 

Again, only the three films I mentioned are the ones being released on Blu-ray, and if those have been PROPERLY restored and they sell well, I would assume Universal will go ahead and do HD masters for additional Blu-ray releases of their other horror classics (I think a Blu-ray set of remastered versions similar to the previous Legacy collections would be ideal). It also remains to be seen whether or not they located superior FILM elements or negatives to work from...Bride of Frankenstein is well-known to have lost a lot of the image around the frame edges, and an original full-frame print or negative needs to be found (the blind hermit's crucifix on his wall is cut off at the cross bar on it...we haven't seen the entire cross including the top portion for decades). This happens when, over the years, a print is made from a print from a print, etc...you just naturally lose a little more of the frane edges each time.

 

We shall see what we shall see....no matter how CLEAN these look on Blu-ray, if they appear to have been done from the same old prints they've kept resuing over the years, I guarantee that Universal fans are going to raise hell about it.

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I wish any future re-releases of SON OF FRANKENSTEIN would carry among its extras the Technicolor tests that were made, which I've heard looked fabulous. Since this was l939, I've also read that the Technicolor cameras were all being used for GONE WITH THE WIND. But one of the monster/fantasy magazines--which may have been Filmfax--did reproduce several stills of the color tests and wow, it just enhanced the whole fantasy look.

 

 

Also, the wonderful Frank Skinner musical score was used for nearly all the future horror flicks made by Universal, especially in the Mummy movies. I loved that scene in the library where Frankenstein Jr. brings his bride and there's a tremendous storm raging outside. Flames of the fireplace flicker wildly on the wall and you sense danger is approaching.

 

 

This is one of those great films to come from that phenomenal year of movie-making--1939!

 

 

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I hear ya. I still think the best original DRACULA release was the old laser disc. It had the best framing, wasn't too dark and had all the restored sound, well, restored and included on the laser.

 

The last BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN DVD was certainly better than the previous one, and I think THE INVISIBLE MAN was better.

 

But...HOUSE OF FRANKENSTEIN developed a low hum throughout the film, but I think the laser was humless.

 

FRANKENSTEIN MEETS THE WOLF MAN has that awful splice in the Main Title and only the laser tried to fix it.

 

And finally on the last ABBOTT AND COSTELLO set, ABBOTT AND COSTELLO MEET FRANKENSTEIN looked and sounded better than I have ever seen it. They fixed the main title soundtrack where a trumpet lick is repeated, but taking two steps forward and one background, they left on the Realart reissue beginning and ending, although I heard it was fixed and appeared on TCM properly.

 

The original FRANKENSTEIN had some kind of sound cleanup that was awful and when no sound was on the track, it went to digital silence, although I think the last DVD version fixed that.

 

So there is lots of stuff they can do to make them better.

 

I thought that last DVD grouping of horror films with STRANGE CASE OF DR. Rx, MAD DOCTOR OF MARKET STREET, etc., couldn't have looked or sounded better.

 

 

As I remember, only the laser of THE INVISIBLE MAN contained the original dance music playing on the radio...all others have that awful "Hearts and Flowers" piano piece.

 

And the last Abbott and Costello set had the best looking and sounding version of MEET FRANKENSTEIN I have seen, although they goofed and left the Realart reissue credits on it.

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Speaking of SON, I also wish they could find the extended version that was on YouTube and contained some extra scenes. I think those scenes added to the film as Wolf's wife is in bed and has a premonition about her son being in danger. I think Universal claims they don't have that material anymore. Wasn't that print shown on cable in Canada and that is how it got out?

 

I understand the technicolor snippets were going to be on the laser, but somehow they disappeared. Wasn't the color footage you mention actually home movies made during production?

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Might I say a word of praise for *Dracula's Daughter*, a fine film, the first horror film I ever saw, on the old Shock Theater on WABC in NYC, after the Ben Hecht Show. It is sometimes forgotten, when people speak of The Hunger, Daughters of Darkness, etc., that Dracula's Daughter was the first vampire film with a lesbian theme.It's a fine, atmospheric horror film all round. What do you all think of the extant prints? I have the Legacy Collection.

 

 

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I think DRACULA'S DAUGHTER is a fine film, and may be my favorite "Dracula" film. I think it looks pretty good, but could always look better. After seeing SON OF FRANKENSTEIN, I think I will start putting the TCM screenings of these films on my hard drive for transfer to DVD-R, although I hate dealing with the TCM bug that appears every 10 minutes or so.

 

I don't know if restoration can fix it, but there is a scene or cut in DRACULA'S DAUGHTER (I think in the police station) that has always been terrible out of focus on every print I have seen. I sense it may have been mistakenly shot that way and I wonder if through digital means it could be made better. But I do love the film and the Roemheld music score.

 

The first SHOCK film I saw was FRANKENSTEIN MEETS THE WOLF MAN. That was the first one to be played in my area and they never thought to have them in order. I guess the title was sensational with two monsters named.

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jw -- I remember those early tv screenings of FMTW as well. I also have a soft spot for that film, I remember having nightmares as a child, of the scene where Talbot is lying in bed and the moon is full. Very atmospheric; and of course the great musical extravaganza!

 

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> The TCM bug comes on once every half hour and remains on screen for 20 seconds. It's the very least in terms of intrusiveness of any non-pay channel in operation these days, I think.

>

For me, the TCM bug shows up every 20 minutes from the start of a movie, and lasts for about 1 minute.

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> {quote:title=jwesm wrote:}{quote}

> I don't know if restoration can fix it, but there is a scene or cut in DRACULA'S DAUGHTER (I think in the police station) that has always been terrible out of focus on every print I have seen. I sense it may have been mistakenly shot that way and I wonder if through digital means it could be made better.

Uh....I know what you're referring to and that was quite intentional ...it's when the Countess is hypnotizing the policeman with her ring, and his vision begins to go fuzzy during the hypnosis.

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> {quote:title=jwesm wrote:}{quote}Speaking of SON, I also wish they could find the extended version that was on YouTube and contained some extra scenes. I think those scenes added to the film as Wolf's wife is in bed and has a premonition about her son being in danger. I think Universal claims they don't have that material anymore. Wasn't that print shown on cable in Canada and that is how it got out?

>

> I understand the technicolor snippets were going to be on the laser, but somehow they disappeared. Wasn't the color footage you mention actually home movies made during production?

They were indeed...it's an urban legend that it was test Technicolor footage. It was actually home movies shot on the set, and nothing more.

 

I happen to have a (fair) copy of that version...it's the British release print, which runs about 2 minutes longer. Here's the specifics of what it contains:

 

14:50 - Total time is approx. :55 sec. - Peter asleep in bed, with Ygor peeking in at him through the wall, followed by Josephine Hutchinson in her bedroom brushing her hair. She looks out the doorway, then goes out of the bedroom, down the hallway to Peter's room right before Ygor closes the peephole, and she looks in on the kid. Sequence ends on Peter asleep, and then fades out. Film continues with the shot of the equipment being brought through the village and the arrival of Krogh at the castle.

 

55:30 - Longer/alternate take of Basil trying to open the stone doorway.

 

1:04:29 - Total time is approx. :15 sec. - This occurs right after the scene with Wolf telling Benson about the monster being alive and his encounter with him. Additional shot of Ygor and the monster walking through the hidden passageway, with the shot ending on a fade-out. Continues with Ygor and the monster coming out of the hidden passageway and pushing the heavy pillar to close the entrance.

 

1:15:35 - Additional shot of the villagers heading through the forest to the castle. This follows the shot of the villagers gathering in the town square, and the film continues with the scene of Krogh arriving at the castle and meeting Wolf outside, warning him not to go anywhere.

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...dammit, I sold my DRACULA laserdisc years ago, but still have my lasers of all the other Universal horrors. I'll have to check some of them out. Are you sure about the music in The Invisible Man being changed...I thought the last DVD release had the correct music?

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{font:arial, helvetica, sans-serif}

 

*krieger69:*

*Uh....I know what you're referring to and that was quite intentional ...it's when the Countess is hypnotizing the policeman with her ring, and his vision begins to go fuzzy during the hypnosis.*

 

No, I don't mean that section. It comes right after the main title at 1 minute, 41 seconds until about 2 minutes when the two constables are walking down the "Frankenstein" steps. That entire cut is very out of focus, but at the cut at 2 minutes, everything is fine.

 

Also, I checked the LEGACY release of THE INVISIBLE MAN (the set with all the series on) and the replaced music (piano) is still there. I think that was the last DVD release of that film.

{font}

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I think there was some great acting in Son of Frankenstein.

 

This might have been Lionel Atwill's best movie.

 

The Art Director, Jack Otterson, was nominated for 8 Oscars.

 

With Set Decorations by: Russell A. Gausman. He received two Oscars.

 

These guys were the best in the business, and the sets really were outstanding.

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SON OF FRANKENSTEIN is a fabulous movie--but then it came out in l939, that magical year when we had all those great films that have become classics. Because it's considered a "horror" or a "scary" movie, though, SON is almost never mentioned when we hear the familiar listings of GONE WITH THE WIND, WUTHERING HEIGHTS, DARK VICTORY, INTERMEZZO, etc. as golden examples of films from that incredible year.

 

 

Frank Skinner should have been nominated for his fantastic musical scoring of SON which, as we all know, was used in all the Mummy movies and no wonder. The music is haunting, brooding but electrifying.

 

 

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I think I like SON for many of the reasons "darkblue" doesn't. It was a new concept and not just rehashing the earlier films. I realize the monster is really a supporting player, and Lugosi, Atwill and Rathbone are the motivating characters in the film. I always felt Rathbone's performance was sort of based on the hysterical performance Colin Clive gave as his father. I love the slow, deliberate pacing, love the score, sets and mood. My only little nitpick is Donnie Dunagan as little Peter....Wellll, HELLLOOO.

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Every one of the Frankenstein pictures has its own aura. SON OF FRANKENSTEIN is all about Wolf being torn in myriad directions by Ygor, Elsa, Inspector Kroeg and his own conscience. The lumbering pace, stylized design, brilliant, wicked verbal jousts and the shuddering score by Frank Skinner all combine to make the film a Titanic-like vessel heading toward the inevitable ice berg. It's grand guignol all the way and, to me, a classic creeper.

 

It also, because of the spacious photography and incredibly tall sets, plays much better on the big screen. In fact, this picture could very effectively be adapted to a stage play.

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> {quote:title=RayFaiola wrote:}{quote}

> It also, because of the spacious photography and incredibly tall sets, plays much better on the big screen. In fact, this picture could very effectively be adapted to a stage play.

SON is the one which is often compared to the German expressionist films of the silent era, style-wise.

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<< 1:15:35 - Additional shot of the villagers heading through the forest to the castle. This follows the shot of the villagers gathering in the town square, and the film continues with the scene of Krogh arriving at the castle and meeting Wolf outside, warning him not to go anywhere. >>

 

I wonder if Dwight Frye appears in these scenes. Dwight is the only actor to film scenes for the first 5 Frankenstein films at Universal. He appears in the final versions of 4 of them (*Frankenstein*, *Bride of Frankenstein*, *The Ghost of Frankenstein*, and *Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man*), but the footage he shot for *Son of Frankenstein* (angry villager) was cut out of the final release. Again, I wonder if he appears in the British release version.

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I agree with you on "Son" being my least favorite. It's a well made film, but the first two are so much more complete. I remember reading an interview years ago where Karloff discussed the film and saying the he was not happy with the monster speaking in the "Bride of" and was glad he didn't in "Son". He though it degraded the monster to start speaking and in his words "I had too much respect for the old boy"....

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Son is a pretty fair effort- good sets, inn-teresting (if not great) acting on the part of Rathbone and a really terrific turn from Bela Lugosi- maybe his best performance ever. Pretty much on a par with Frankenstein Meets Der Wolfman and Ghost of Frankenstein (and a freaking masterpiece compared to the two House Of movies that pretty much killed the Universal horror franchise. )

 

I think the main thing going against it is its length: it is nearly two hours long- the longest of the classic horror films. I think 20 minutes could have been trimmed.

 

 

Oh, and the kid who plays Wolf Von Frankenstein's son is the *worst* child actor *ever.* If memory serves me right, he is also in A Woman's Face with Crawford and All This and Heaven Too with Bette Davis and he comes damn close to ruining the latter ("Golly Mamselle, you's dee pwettiest Mamselle we's ever haid.") I have the feeling Bette was tempted to put her cigarette out on his arm in between takes to try and get some believable emotions out of him.

 

 

(If she did, it didn't work.)

 

 

Edited by: JonnyGeetar on Apr 12, 2012 3:53 PM

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The running time is 99 min.....the British release print is 2 minutes longer.

 

Donnie Dunagan was the kid, Peter...his best scene is when he's describing "the giant" to Rathbone, and says "...and he walked like this!", doing an imitation of the monster's walk. Great moment.

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Yes, the running time of each of the first two Franks are just about that...and for me, although I like the first one, THAT is the one that always seems to drag a bit for me. At least SON has a hyperactive energy to it, what with Rathbone's histrionics, and the marvelous performances of Lugosi (yes, it's his best performance, even moreso than Dracula) and Atwill (another great one from him....certainly his best from his Universal period).

 

For me, BRIDE is the one which really zips along.

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