Monday, June 1, 2009

Son of Frankenstein (1939)

3rd in the Frankenstein series.

The son of Dr. Frankenstein, played by Basil Rathbone, has inherited the estate of his father.  The townspeople are upset with his arrival because of what his father has done in the past.  His father created a monster that wrecked havoc on the town long ago.  Frankenstein's son, Wolf, soon discovers that the monster still exists.  Ygor, who lives in the ruins of Frankenstein's laboratory, is friends with the monster.  He has been taking care of the monster all these years while the monster lies in a comma.  Ygor talks Dr. Frankenstein into helping the monster regain consciousness.  After the monster awakes, Ygor has him kill his enemies.  When the monster kidnaps Frankenstein's little son, Frankenstein comes to the conclusion that he must destroy the monster and Ygor.

"Son of Frankenstein" is a great sequel.  While the monster does not have as much to do as in the previous films, the movie is fast paced and exciting.  This is mostly due to Bela Lugosi as Ygor.  This is Lugosi's finest role in my opinion.  I think this is his best acting job, even better than Dracula.  He is not only a demented and creepy character, but he is also very funny.  

Another stand out performance is from Lionel Atwill at Inspector Krogh.  This is one of his finest performances.  He has a wooden arm because when he was a child, the monster pulled it out by its roots.  The best sight gag is when he plays darts with Dr. Frankenstein.  Instead of putting the remaining darts on a table, he stabs them into his wooden arm.  It is classic. 

The film is visually stunning.  The sets and lighting are surreal.  It has a very different look than the previous Frankenstein films.  It is filled with jagged edges and weird shadows.  It is worth watching, just for the cinematography.

Once again, Karloff is great as the monster.  He doesn't have much to do in the picture, but he is the best monster.  No one comes close.

The makeup by Jack Pierce is excellent as always.  Not only was the Frankenstein Monster makeup great, but so was Ygor's.  Ygor has a broken neck, a shaggy beard, and rotten teeth.

"Son of Frankenstein" could have easily been just an ok film, but it stands as a classic film for all time thanks to the wonderful performance by Bela Lugosi.  

A-  I recommend it.

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