Film, video and television productions based on the novel by Mary Shelley:
Director James Whale; writers John Balderston, others; featuring Boris Karloff, Colin Clive, Edward Van Sloan, Dwight Frye
Director James Whale; writers William Hurlbut, John Balderston; featuring Boris Karloff, Colin Clive, Elsa Lanchester
Director Rowland V. Lee; writer Wyllis Cooper; featuring Boris Karloff, Basil Rathbone, Bela Lugosi
Directors Erle C. Kenton, Roy William Neill, Charles Barton; writers Scott Darling, Eric Taylor, Curt Siodmak, Edward T. Lowe Jr.; featuring Lon Chaney Jr., Cedric Hardwicke, Bela Lugosi, Glenn Strange, Bud Abbott, Lou Costello
Director Terence Fisher; writers Jimmy Sangster; featuring Peter Cushing, Christopher Lee
Directors Terence Fisher, Jummy Sangster; writers Sangster, Hurford Janes and others; featuring Peter Cushing, Michael Gwynn, David Prowse and others
Directors Paul Morrissey, Mel Brooks, Roger Corman, Robert Tinnell; writers Tonino Geuerra, Morrissey, Brooks, Corman, and others; featuring Udo Kier, Gene Wilder, Peter Boyle, Marty Feldman, Madeleine Kahn, John Hurt, Burt Reynolds and others.
The monster (Boris Karloff) takes a wife (Elsa Lanchester)—or tries to anyway.
Fleshing out the family
Frankenstein was a huge hit, especially when paired with Dracula on double bills.
So, of course, Universal Pictures proceeded to drive both franchises into the ground with sequels. But the first few out were actually pretty good, benefiting from funding that the first films lacked. They're smoother, if somewhat less intense, productions.
Monster takes a bride
Many consider the first Frankenstein sequel, Bride of Frankenstein (1935), with James Whale repeating as director, to be an even greater film.
Elsa Lanchester plays two roles, firstly Mary Shelley, who in this movie supposedly recaps the plot of her novel Frankenstein to Percy Bysshe Shelley and Lord Byron. What she describes though is actually the plot of the Hollywood film based on it. Then she reveals the monster and doctor did not die at the story's end as thought. She's been planning a sequel, it appears, which she then relates—and the movie follows.
Else Lanchester lets loose
Both protagonists have survived. Another unscrupulous scientist, one Doctor Pretorius, forces Henry Frankenstein to create for the monster a mate, briefly but memorably also portrayed by Lanchester.
This imagined tale actually picks up some of the previously missing elements of Shelley's original novel, such as the monster learning to speak and asking the doctor to make a woman for him.
It is also a more elaborate story than the first Frankenstein movie with obviously more money spent on its sets and actors, and sporting some sophisticated camera work.
At times it does veer into old-fashioned Hollywood melodrama, particularly concerning Dr. Frankenstein and his fiancée (whom we really don't care about).
But Boris Karloff is at his most affecting as the supposed monster and veteran British actor Ernest Thesiger steals several scenes as the sinister Pretorius.