October 19, 2015

80th Anniversary BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN series
The Ballyhooed Bride

Standing 30 (?) feet tall, eyes fitted with flashing lights, The Monster straddles a busy sidewalk on St Clare Street in Toledo. “Legs formed arch plenty tall enough not to hinder pedestrian traffic…” reported the Motion Picture Herald of August 31, 1935. 

A second photo, different angle, shows the giant figure positioned half a block down from The Tivoli, next door at The Palace. The placement suggests either common ownership or a very friendly arrangement between the two theaters.

With the phenomenal box office of FRANKENSTEIN (1931) in recent memory, and a terrific subject to promote — The Monster Talks!... Who Will Be The Monster’s Mate? — BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN was ripe for hype and flashy ballyhoo. In San Francisco, the Ritz lobby had a mummy-wrapped dummy on a gurney and a mad-lab electric coil shooting foot-long sparks over the box office. Outside, a giant cut-out Frankenstein Monster head glared down at passers-by from atop the marquee. In the days running up to release, THE BRIDE’s trailer was accompanied by an elaborate stunt described in the Universal Weekly showman’s magazine of July 27…

All house and stage lights out; rattle and drag chains about back stage; girls in wings give several blood-curdling screams; loads of scrap iron dropped from flies onto steel boiler plates back stage; set off charge of flashlight powder and at the same time plug in green spot on 24-Sheet cut-out head of monster on stage. Hold while smoke from flash rises through green light on head then go into trailer leaving green face visible. Also worked as a swell gag before picture itself.

Likewise, the State Theatre of Harrisonburg, Virginia. Their trailer presentation kicked off with flashing house lights, live screams and clashing cymbals. Then all the lights went out and a giant Monster head with glowing red eyes was pulled across the stage in a deep blue spot. House manager Sam Roth ran a newspaper want ad reading, “BRIDE WANTED — to act as mate for man-made monster. Apply Frankenstein, State Theatre.” The theatre front was papered with a stunning assortment of gorgeous posters and the parked ambulance gag was revived, with banners shouting “Emergency Ambulance — for those who can’t take it while seeing the BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN.” According to Universal Weekly, Roth’s State campaign “aroused beaucoup excitement in town.

More great gags, stunts and showmanship coming up as we count down to Halloween and celebrate the BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN 80th Anniversary!  

Sources: Cinema Treasures. Motion Picture Herald and Universal Weekly via Lantern/Media History Digital Library.

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