Week 3 of 12 saw the Strand show 1959 romantic comedy Pillow Talk, unfortunately I was unable to attend that week but I was able to make my return for the 4th week of 12. This time the movie shown was the 1931 Frankenstein film, I was pleased that we were getting to explore some early horror as this is certainly one of the more interesting genres. Once again the film expert gave us an insight into some elements of the film, for example we learnt that at the start of the movie the sound of the dirt hitting the coffin was actually recorded from inside a coffin for the purposes of realism. Sound was something that we were told to look out for and we were warned that there were continuity errors included. It would seem that James Whale was more interested in specific scenes rather than the entire picture.
Anyway here is what I thought of the movie. I really did enjoy it, with only a 70 minute running time it was rather on the short side but this meant there was no unnecessary scenes and things moved along at a good pace. There were obvious flaws in the movie and it was clear that this movie was made earlier than the films already featured in this series. The comparisons between The Maltese Falcon and Frankenstein were quite staggering, made 10 years apart I could really see the advancements that had been made in filming when you place the movies against each other. The editing was rather poor in comparison however this didn’t ever detract from my enjoyment of the movie. I was expecting more music to be used though, at certain points featuring Frankensteins’ creation especially. For example there were several close up shots of the monster when it is revealed for the first time and I would have thought that music accompanying it would have induced more fear however silence is all that accompanies it.
I could see elements of the horror coming through in the movie, of course this is incredibly difficult for me to imagine watching this movie through the lens of modern horror but I could see how some scenes would have been scary. As the movie expert informed us this was revolutionary for the time. I definitely think that the addition of some music to certain scenes would have increased the intensity of the horror however maybe this hadn’t been developed or thought through properly at the time. With the short running time there was little time for any real character development and I wanted to see more of the fallout that Frankenstein would have had to face however again this comes with the lens of modern horror films. I would assume that Whale’s focus would have been on the horror side to the story and little else, and this he does achieve well.
Ultimately Frankenstein is a film that revolutionised cinema at its time bringing the genre of horror further into the spotlight. I am sure many films that have proceeded it have drawn influence and have taken this solid foundation and built upon it. Frankenstein is the film that I have enjoyed the most so far in this series of Silver Screenings. A quick paced interesting story that kept you wanting to know the outcome, helped by good set designs and constant changes in location. Despite its poor editing and lack of music and character development Frankenstein was thoroughly enjoyable and it is easy to see why it is the renowned classic that it is.