Bela Lugosi’s Monster gets jacked up to full power — “The strength of ten men!” — in a scene from Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man (1943).
It’s Bela’s birthday today, October 20. In 1942, he celebrated his 60th on a Universal set, playing the very part he had famously refused in 1931.
It was a harrowing shoot for the actor. Poor health and the exhausting makeup and costume led to his collapse on November 5, with ten days left in the shooting schedule. A tag team of stuntmen and stand-ins helped to fill out The Monster’s scenes.
Adding insult to injury, Lugosi’s dialog was ultimately edited out, leaving The Monster mute. Without dialog to explain that The Monster is blind, Lugosi’s stiff walk and cartwheeling arms appear awkward. In the photo above, The Monster’s curious, canny smile originally indicated that the climactic experiment had succeeded and The Monster’s sight had been restored.
In a rare moment of reprieve from the difficult shoot, Lugosi got a loving hug from his visiting five-year old son, Bela Jr.