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"Son of Frankenstein" (1939)


joefilmone
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This is the last truly great serious Frankenstein movie from Universal-the strange distorted sets does give it a unique look and the script was an obvious inspiration for Mel Brooks " Young Frankenstein". And for those into kinky subtext- what was really going on between Lugosis' truly imspired Igor and Karloff haunting monster?!

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Joe, this was one fabulous movie! The photography alone--deep shadows, rippling shadows, etc.--should have been nominated for an award. And that striking scene at the beginning with the wind ripping around those dark-shrouded women who are passing Igor's tower and they all cringe. Those striking sets that you mentioned just gave the whole movie a delightfully Gothic touch. And wow, that incredible musical score by Frank Skinner just added another powerful ingredient of grand touches to this delightful movie experience.

 

 

On another thread, there seems some confusion about the Technicolor factor. From what I've read, I thought "Son" was originally planned as a big Technicolor production but this was later deemed too expensive by the always frugal Universal. Yet, I do recall seeing some color snippets in either an extra on the Frankenstein DVD extras. Some say this was merely from a home movie taken on the set but I always though color tests were made of the monster who was given a sinister green skin tone.

 

 

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I really can't imagine any of Universal horror classics in color- the wonderfull black and white cinematography created the perfect eerie atmosphere. "Phamtom of the Opera" makes sense in color because of it's period spectacle and musical sequences.

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The color snippets I've seen involve Karloff goofing with make-up man Jack Pierce. Was announced as 8mm family film. I think they said Karloff's daughter took them. The film itself is a pleasure to watch. Even my wife (no fan herself) commented on it's clairity.

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  • 2 months later...

The color film that has floated around is from a family home movie taken by Boris Karloff's wife. It is also true that Universal had some discussion about making "Son of Frankenstein" in color. Color tests were made but ultimately abandoned. Now whether those color tests still exist is another story. Considering how frugal Universal was, I highly doubt much if any still exist. Though if they do they were packed away and remain in the vaults.

 

 

 

 

 

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Another reason why Universal gave up the idea of filming "SON" in color is that at the time there were very few Technicolor cameras around and David O. Selznick's little independent movie, GONE WITH THE WIND was using all of them for the big train station pullback sequence that revealed hundreds of humans and dummies as Scarlett O'Hara searches for Dr. Meade, in addition to many other sequences. I've also read that THE HUNCHBACK OF NOTRE DAME was pushed by director William Dieterle as a Technicolor production (wouldn't that have been fabulous?) but he had the same experience--too expensive and no Technicolor cameras were available for that long period it took to film HUNCHBACK.

 

 

On a personal sidebar, I would love to have been an extra during that year--think of all the really fantastic movie classics that were all being filmed that year--with Bette Davis alone making four movie classics. It was 12 months of feverish creative energy that imbued the film colony and all the studios.

 

 

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