Magazine article American Cinematographer

Letters

Magazine article American Cinematographer

Letters

Article excerpt

The Last Word

To judge by their letters. Messrs. Behlmer and Curtis misunderstood my article in the April issue, "Universal's Horror Tradition." Rather than the entire making of Frankenstein, I dealt with how it was initiated, led to Murders In The Rue Morgue, and the influence of these efforts on the studio's horror cycle. A detailed description of these events filled in gaps and corrected errors that have appeared in many summaries. I drew on sources never previously synthesized: the reminiscences of Paul Ivano, Leon Ames, and Robert Florey - as well as the director's own continuity used in shooting the Frankenstein test. My article discussed the contributions of Garrett Fort, Richard Schayer and F.E. Faragoh; Behlmer's book does not even mention John Russell and Tom Reed. The original Florey-Fort script was primarily shortened by subsequent revisions. Only the order of a few scenes was shifted, extended or abbreviated, some dialogue rewritten, and the Baron made into a buffoon; the sole substantial addition was the monster's menacing of Frankenstein's bride at their wedding.

Behlmer's discussion of the role of the Webling/Balderston play in the development of Frankenstein neglects to mention that this play is the product of a tradition of theatrical presentations of Frankenstein over the preceeding century. Parallels between the Florey-Fort screenplay and Webling/Balderston - cited previously by Behlmer - such as a creation scene with a storm and Fritz can be found as early as 1823 in "Presumption; or, The Fate of Frankenstein."

Behlmer downplays the differences between the film and the Webling/Balderston play. The movie, unlike the play, has a mute, not a speaking monster, who is never called Frankenstein; the play's laboratory is set in an old house instead of an abandoned watchtower or windmill; Balderston has the monster "roll over" to perform "tricks like a puppy. …

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