December 14, 2007

The Selling of Frankenstein, Part Deux

The Triumph of Cinematographic Technique” boasts a French ad for Frankenstein. Note the script credit given to Robert Florey.

In May of 1931, Florey wrote (with Garrett Fort) the first draft of the screenplay, introducing key elements like the windmill finale and the all-important criminal brain switch. Over a period of three days, June 15-17, Florey rehearsed and directed a test for the film with Bela Lugosi in Monster makeup. How the test was received by Universal heads is still a matter of debate. Whatever happened, mere days later, on the 29th, the Hollywood Daily Citizen announced that James Whale would direct the film.

Robert Florey was off the project and when Frankenstein came out, his name was nowhere to be seen. Florey lobbied Universal for recognition of his script contribution, and the studio made amends by displaying his name prominently on foreign posters.

A bit of visual trivia: The dramatic pen and ink rendering on the ad shows the “clamped horns” on The Monster’s forehead. It’s interesting how a photograph of Karloff's early test makeup, which theoretically should have been filed away because it was different from the final, screen-used version, would circulate so freely. The photo turns up in the film’s promotional material, it appeared in newspapers and was sometimes used as a reference by poster artists.

Image from the collection of Jean-Claude Michel.


3 comments:

Karswell said...

Some really beautiful images on these last few posts. Awesome.

FYI: I've got another pre-code Frankenstein story lined up for Monday Dec. 17th on The Horrors of it All.

Pierre Fournier said...

Thanks, Karswell. I've got more of those outstanding foreign posters coming up in the days and weeks to come.

Your blog, The Horror of it All, is one of the pleasures of the web. I'm looking forward to your new Frankenstein post.

Anonymous said...

Many stills of Margaret Hamilton (shot during Richard Thorpes brief tenure as director of WIZARD OF OZ)in Wicked Witch makeup unused in the final film have also been given much exposure.