Thursday, October 29, 2015

Retro Movie: Frankenstein's True Story

David McCallum, Nicola Pagett & Leonard Whiting
There have been many versions of Mary Shelley's classic novel, Frankenstein, but one of my favorites is the British/American co-production, Frankenstein: The True Story. In this retelling of the story, Victor Frankenstein (who's training to be a doctor) loses his faith after his brother drowns. He vows to learn to create life & resurrect the dead, and achieve the power of God himself. Working with the brilliant scientist Henry Clerval, Victor attempts to re-animate dead flesh & limbs, and the two achieve amazing results. But Clerval dies suddenly, and Victor is forced to continue his work alone. He sacrifices his personal life (including his relationship with his fiance) in pursuit of his goals. When his creature is born, Victor is elated by his first. But then Clerval's former mentor, the scheming Dr. Polidori, arrives, and forces him to do further experiments. As the story continues, Polidori gets Victor to help him create a "bride" for the monster, and a series of murderous events is put into motion, culminating in a final confrontation between Victor & the monster.  

The intriguing difference this time out is that the "monster" is an intelligent being who starts out looking handsome, and degenerates into a nightmarish creature. Victor & his creation are friends at first, but things soon take a turn for the worse. Along the way, there are some memorable moments, including one involving the monsters's bride that has stuck in my mind ever since I first saw the film back in 1973. It originally aired on NBC as a two part mini-series, though a shorter, feature-length version of the movie was released overseas. If you're a fan of the Universal or Hammer films interpretations of the story, you'll find a lot to enjoy in this film. Frankenstein: The True Story is a handsomely produced, well written (by Christopher Isherwood & Don Bachardy) & directed (by Jack Smight) version of the classic tale. The phenomenal cast includes David McCallum, James Mason, Jane Seymour, Leonard Whiting and Michael Sarrazin. There are also cameos by Tom Baker, John Gielgud and Agnes Moorehead. The two-part version of the movie is available on DVD, and is recommended viewing for your Halloween fright fest. Here's a link to some scenes from the film:

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