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Bride of Frankenstein (1935) - An Illustrated Reference

Updated on September 12, 2017

The Bride of Frankenstein was directed by James Whale and premiered on the 22nd April 1935. Starring Boris Karloff, Colin Clive, Valerie Hobson, Ernest Thesiger and Elsa Lanchester. Screenplay by William Hurlbut & John L. Balderston. Music by Franz Waxman. 75mins.

"The monster demands a mate!"

Dr, Pretorius, a friend of Dr. Frankenstein, pays him a visit and asks him to continue his experiments of bringing life to dead tissue. Frankenstein refuses, Pretorius befriends the monster and they kidnap Elizabeth, Frankenstein has no choice but to create a mate for the monster.

James Whale (1889-1957) was born in Worcestershire, England, after gaining some success directing the play Journey’s End on the stage in England he moved to Hollywood where he directed the movie version of Journey’s End (1930), it starred Colin Clive. After the success of Dracula in early 1931 Universal wanted to film Frankenstein and James Whale took the job. It was an even bigger success than Dracula and Whale followed this with The Old Dark House (1932), The Invisible Man (1933) and Bride of Frankenstein (1935).

The Monster: You make man like me
Pretorius: No. Woman friend for you
The Monster: Woman..Friend.. Wife..

Boris Karloff (1887-1969) / The Monster

Born in London, England, Boris Karloff’s success as the monster in Frankenstein (1931) made him a household name around the world and the publicity department only needed to add the name KARLOFF in big letters on movie posters to draw the crowds in.

His films include The Mummy (1932), Scarface (1932), The Old Dark House (1932), The Mask of Fu Manchu (1932), The Black Cat (1934), The Raven (1935), The Invisible Ray (1936), The Walking Dead (1936), Son of Frankenstein (1939), House of Frankenstein (1944), The Body Snatcher (1945), Unconquered (1947), Abbott and Costello Meet Jekyll and Hyde (1953), Grip of the Strangler (1958), The Raven (1963), Die Monster Die (1965), The Sorcerers (1967) and Targets (1968).

Henry: This heart is useless. I must have another, and it must be sound and young.

Colin Clive (1900-1937) / Dr. Henry Frankenstein

Born in St. Malo, France, Colin Clive only appeared in 18 films before his death in 1937 of pneumonia aged just 37. His role as Dr. Frankenstein in the two James Whale classics assured him of screen immortality.

His films include – Journey’s End (1930), Frankenstein (1931), The Key (1934), Jane Eyre (1934), Clive of India (1935) and Mad Love (1935)

Valerie Hobson (1917-1998) / Elizabeth

Born in County Antrim, Ireland, Valerie Hobson was only 17 when she took on the role of Elizabeth in Bride, Mae Clarke played the part in the previous film. Hobson’s films include – Werewolf of London (1935), The Drum (1938), Q Planes (1939), Great Expectations (1946), Blanche Fury (1948) and Kind Hearts and Coronets (1949).

Dr. Pretorius: To a new world of gods and monsters!

Ernest Thesiger (1879-1961) / Dr. Pretorius

Born in London, England, Ernest Thesiger’s films include – The Old Dark House (1932), The Ghoul (1933), The Man Who Could Work Miracles (1936), Henry V (1944), Caesar and Cleopatra (1945), Scrooge (1951), The Robe (1953), Quentin Durward (1955) and The Horse’s Mouth (1958).

Elsa Lanchester (1902-1986) / Mary Shelley / The Bride

Born in London, England, Elsa Lanchester was married to Charles Laughton who had starred in James Whale’s The Old Dark House.

Her films include – The Private Life of Henry VIII (1933), David Copperfield (1935), Rembrandt (1936), The Big Clock (1948), Les Miserables (1952), Witness for the Prosecution (1957), Bell Book and Candle (1958), Mary Poppins (1964), Willard (1971) and Murder by Death (1976).

Percy Shelley: I do think it a shame, Mary, to end your story quite so suddenly.
Mary Shelley: That wasn't the end at all. Would you like to hear what happened after that? I feel like telling it. It's a perfect night for mystery and horror. The air itself is filled with monsters.
Lord Byron: I'm all ears. While heaven blasts the night without, open up your pits of hell.

The movie was originally titled The Return of Frankenstein and Brigitte Helm, star of Fritz Lang’s Metropolis, was considered for the role of the Bride.

Claude Rains, who had starred in James Whale’s The Invisible Man, was considered for the role of Dr, Pretorius but he was unavailable.

Elsa Lanchester played both Mary Shelley in the prologue and The Bride, but she is only credited on screen for Shelley, there is a question mark after the credit for the monsters mate.

Lanchester was walking around on stilts to make her look taller as the Bride, the actress was only 5’4” tall.

Boris Karloff was listed fourth on the end credits of Frankenstein (1931) with Colin Clive first, on Bride of Frankenstein its Karloff first, no Boris just ‘Karloff’', and Clive is listed second.

Pretorius: Do you know who Frankenstein is, and who you are?
The Monster: Yes, I know... made me from dead... I love dead... hate living.
Pretorius: You are wise in your generation.

Karloff had reservations about making the monster speak and laugh, he felt it weakened the character, humanising it "if the Monster has any impact or charm, it was because he was inarticulate” Karloff said in an interview. The monster would be mute again in the next film.

The only other time the monster talks in the Universal series is with Bela Lugosi’s voice in Ghost of Frankenstein (1942), when the monster, played by Lon Chaney Jr, has his brain replaced with Ygor’s brain by a descendant of Frankenstein.

Frankenstein: She's alive!
Pretorius: The bride of Frankenstein!

The hissing bride with her scars and hairdo with shock of white became an iconic horror symbol and she would be emulated and parodied in many movies and TV shows to come.

The monster’s encounter with a blind hermit (O.P. Heggie) is one of the most memorable scenes in the film, the blind man teaches the monster to speak and smoke cigars. The monster even sheds a tear for the lonely blind man.

There is a hilarious homage to this sequence in Mel Brook’s comedy classic Young Frankenstein (1974), the monster was played by Peter Boyle and Gene Hackman as the blind hermit.

Henry: But this isn't science! It's more like black magic.
Pretorius: You think I'm mad. Perhaps I am. But listen Frankenstein. While you were digging in your graves, piecing together dead tissues, I, my dear pupil, went for my material to the source of life. I grew my creatures like cultures; grew them, as nature does - from seed. But still, you did achieve results that I have missed. Now think what a world-astounding collaboration we should be, you and I together.
Henry: No! No! No!

The film lapses into fantasy in an amusing sequence where Pretorius shows off his experiments to Henry, seven tiny figures in bottles. The figures are of a king, a queen, an archbishop, a ballerina, a mermaid, the devil and a baby (played by midget Billy Barty who was cut from the finished film). The clever effects were created by special effects wizard John P. Fulton.

In The Old Dark House, Ernest Thesiger as Horace Femm tells his guests “Have some gin, it’s my only weakness”, as an injoke in Bride, Pretorius tells Frankenstein “Do you like gin? It’s my only weakness.” Later he tells the monster “Have a cigar, it’s my only weakness”

Franz Waxman’s excellent score would be re-used in the Buck Rogers and Flash Gordon serials of the 30’s and 40’s.

The sequence at the Gypsy camp replaced another scene that was cut out after preview audiences objected to it. One of the cut scenes showed the monster killing the burgomaster.

Pretorius: Get away from that lever. You'll blow us all to atoms!

In the original ending Henry Frankenstein dies along with Pretorius and the monster when the laboratory explodes. But it was felt that it was too downbeat and it was reshot with the monster letting Henry leave with Elizabeth while telling Pretorius “You stay! We belong dead.”, and pulling the lever. But if you look closely you can still make out Henry inside the lab while it’s exploding.

The line “We belong dead” was #63 in a poll of the 100 greatest movie lines by Premiere magazine in 2007.

Some European countries had problems with the film, they objected to the monster demanding a mate and staring longingly at her bandaged body on the slab, which they felt smacked of necrophilia. A few countries banned it completely.

15 minutes was cut from the film after preview screenings and the body count was reduced after complaints from the censor. The finished film is 75 minutes long.

Bride of Frankenstein cost $400,000 and took 46 days to shoot, it received an Oscar nomination for Best Sound.

Bride was among the films chosen for preservation by the National Film Registry in 1998.

Many critics praised the film, some finding it superior to the original. It is generally regarded as one of the greatest horror films ever made.

The Critics Wrote –

"Much admired on release for its production values, monster and sense of humour, this is now generally considered the finest of all the Frankenstein movies. Boris Karloff is moving as the monster, and James Whale directs this sequel to his 1931 original with panache. The big problem is that, because so much of it is camp and the monster is so sympathetic, the film isn’t nearly as horrific or frightening as it seemed in the 1930s." (Chris Tookey)

“This caricature by very knowing people is a macabre comedy classic.” (Pauline Kael)

“Indescribably witty, stylish and grotesque; nothing like it has ever been made since.” (Scheuer)

"While this is a major genre film, it is by no means the classic it is claimed to be. By infusing the movie with his own quirky sense of humour, Whale undermines the horror to its detriment." (Alan Frank)

"The most fabulous element of all is the moment of the creation of the She-Monster, a riotous display of unusual camera angles, fast editing, and electrical effects that reaches its climax with the unveiling of the Bride, scored by Waxman with a cacophony of bells." (Carlos Clarens)

"Has to contend with all the difficulties which inevitably confront sequels and it is by no means completely successful in overcoming them. Though there are moments of real horror there are others when the thrills fail to thrill. The Monster is less terrifying, partly because the dawning in him of human qualities arouses sympathy for him." (Monthly Film Bulletin)

"The best of the Frankenstein movies--a sly, subversive work that smuggled shocking material past the censors by disguising it in the trappings of horror. Some movies age; others ripen. Seen today, Whale's masterpiece is more surprising than when it was made because today's audiences are more alert to its buried hints of homosexuality, necrophilia and sacrilege." (Roger Ebert)

© 2012 Steve Lensman


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    • FloraBreenRobison profile image

      FloraBreenRobison 6 years ago

      Okay - this is the best role of Elsa's career. I love Elsa Lanchester (and her husband too-nothing to do with this film, I just thought I'd say). She was a great character actress and this gave her a meaty starring role.

      I have seen much of Karloff's career. My favourite of his movies outside of this pair of serious Frankenstein films team him wit Abbot t and Costello.

      I have only seen Clive in these two Frankenstein films.

      I know I've seen Valerie Hobson in other films, but she rarely plays a role that is my focus.

      Thesiger I've seen most often in Scrooge. Some titles you list I've seen (Caesar and Cleapatra) and others are unknown to me (The Horse's Mouth).

      My favourite poster is the final one.

    • Steve Lensman profile image

      Steve Lensman 6 years ago from London, England

      I couldn't do 30 hubs in 30 days, I like taking my time on my hubs and editing and rediting them, re-positioning the images etc even after I publish them I'm still tinkering around adjusting them. I want them to look good.

      On Bride of Frankenstein I could have just written why I like the film and my favourite moments, with a picture of the monster at the top and published it. And the next day do the same with Son of Frankenstein and on and on but that's just too easy and lazy. I'd rather fill the hub with facts, quotes, critic reviews and as many images as I can cram into it. Give the reader something nice to look at.

    • FloraBreenRobison profile image

      FloraBreenRobison 6 years ago

      I don't have the time or energy to do the 30/30 challenge unless they were Haiku with only one stanza. At my most productive, I still published about 17 hubs a month. Now I'm getting a bit burnt out- so no, not going to do it. Of course, while I'm on probation is not great timing as I have to wait for approval over a couple days when I do publish a new hub, and weekends staff has off. Next month? Maybe. If you need the challenge to motivate you, great. But if you are motivated already, don't bother for right now.

    • Steve Lensman profile image

      Steve Lensman 6 years ago from London, England

      My boast that I could finish off 30 hubs in 3 days if I was savvy at poetry? Would I be disqualified? Does it have to be 30 hubs in 30 days? Flora if I was adept at poetry and haiku I could finish off all 30 hubs in 24 hours, assuming I only have to write about 15 words per hub. [Flora rolls her eyes] ;)

    • FloraBreenRobison profile image

      FloraBreenRobison 6 years ago

      It's getting time to make dinner and there is much to say , so I will just say right now that I love both this movie and the first one. Also, I note with great interest your answer to Bruce's question about the 30/30 challenge.

    • Steve Lensman profile image

      Steve Lensman 6 years ago from London, England

      Thanks Noel, comment appreciated. I like the way it begins too with Mary Shelley continuing the story and the same actress playing the Bride. Originally it was to end the way it started with Shelley finishing her story. Not sure if it was removed or never filmed.

    • Noel Tanti profile image

      Noel Tanti 6 years ago from Malta

      great hub steve... i love this movie, especially the beginning with the 2 shelleys and byron... it's one of those films that you carry with you... so many great scenes in it...

    • Steve Lensman profile image

      Steve Lensman 6 years ago from London, England

      Thanks for commenting thatmovieguy71. I agree, Karloff was very underrated. His performance in this and the first movie was astounding and IMO miles better than the histrionic acting in many of the Oscar nominated films of that period.

    • profile image

      thatmovieguy71 6 years ago

      Great hub, Steve! Bride of Frankenstein is my favorite of the classic horror movies of that time period. I though Karloff's performance in it was Oscar worthy, and even better than his performance in the original Frankenstein movie.

    • Steve Lensman profile image

      Steve Lensman 6 years ago from London, England

      Thanks Rob, appreciate the comment. I should do a hub on Son of Frankenstein one day just to complete the Karloff trilogy. That was good fun too with a great cast - Karloff, Basil Rathbone, Lionel Atwill and Bela Lugosi!

    • Robwrite profile image

      Rob 6 years ago from Bay Ridge Brooklyn NY

      I've seen this film so many times, I can recite the dialogue. Excellent horror film. It dips a little too far into farce sometimes, which is why I prefer the first film more, but I see them basically as two halves of a complete film. Karloff is still the one who best portrayed the monster.

      Another fun hub,


    • Steve Lensman profile image

      Steve Lensman 6 years ago from London, England

      Bruce, if I was into haiku and poetry I could have finished off 30 hubs in 3 days and my hubs would disappear from google forever. :)

      3 hubs in 3 days is okay I suppose, now I need a break. I may do one more on friday or saturday.

      Bride is my favourite of the Universal Frankenstein series and their other monsters too. It's a lot of fun and I liked Franz Waxman's music score, it's part of my soundtrack collection.

      I had about 50 glossy stills from Bride and thought I should put them to good use.

      Thanks for the comment amigo, always appreciated.

    • Cogerson profile image

      Cogerson 6 years ago from Virginia

      Excellent hub....I just watched this movie a few months ago....which I watched this one Frankenstein after reading your Frankenstein hub. I thought this one was the better of the two...more humor and Karloff got to act more.

      Interesting fact about Elsa Lanchester having to walk around on stilts...never would have guessed that. I think Claude Rains would have been perfect in the role...not that Ernest Thesiger was bad in the role.

      So you have 3 hubs in 3 days...does this mean you are going for the 30 hubs in 30 days quest?

      Voted up and interesting.