October 23, 2013

The Return of Frankenstein

The Monster casts a tall shadow in an otherwise sparse December 1934 Universal Weekly trade paper ad for The Return of Frankenstein, the working title for a film that would be released as Bride of Frankenstein. No details, no hint of content except to get the word out: Frankenstein was coming back, and James Whale was aboard.

The phenomenal success of the 1931 original had Universal eager for a sequel, but director James Whale wanted no part of it. Several scripts and screen treatments were floated and other directors were considered until Whale finally came around and supervised a brilliant and perverse script written to his specifications. He would oversee all aspects of the production, from casting — with his friends Ernest Thesiger and Elsa Lanchester assisting the returning Colin Clive and Boris Karloff — to sitting in on the orchestra recording of the sumptuous score.

With Bride of Frankenstein, Whale would create his undisputed masterpiece.

The ad plugs Carl Laemmle’s Anniversary Jubilee, and Universal’s patriarch was featured on the cover of this issue. It seemed like papa Laemmle was celebrating something of other every few months, front and center, although his son Julius, aka Carl Jr., was now head of production — if not for much longer. The horror movies did well, but the studio accumulated a series of expensive flops and the Laemmles were bought out in 1936.

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