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Frankenstein Details


Still regarded as the definitive film version of Mary Shelley's classic tale of tragedy and horror, Frankenstein made unknown character actor Boris Karloff a star and created a new icon of terror. Along with the highly successful Boris Karloff, released earlier the same year, it launched Universal Studio's golden age of 1930s horror movies. The film's greatness stems less from its script than from the stark but moody atmosphere created by director James Whale; Herman Rosse's memorable set designs, particularly the fantastic watchtower laboratory, featuring electrical equipment designed by Kenneth Strickfaden; the creature's trademark look from makeup artist Jack Pierce, who required Karloff to don pounds of makeup and heavy asphalt shoes to create the monster's unique lurching gait; and Karloff's nuanced performance as the tormented and bewildered creature. Frankenstein was greeted with screams, moans, and fainting spells upon its initial release, obliging Universal to add a disclaimer in which Edward Van Sloan advises the faint of heart to leave the theater immediately. If they don't: "Well...we've warned you." Director James Whale was memorably embodied by Ian McKellen in the Oscar-winning 1998 biopic Gods and Monsters. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

  • Release date:September 13, 1932


Colin Clive
as Henry Frankenstein
Boris Karloff
as The Monster
Mae Clarke
as Elizabeth
John Boles
as Victor Moritz
Dwight Frye
as Fritz, the Dwarf
Edward Van Sloan
as Doctor Waldman
Frederick Kerr
as Baron Frankenstein
Pauline Moore
as Bridesmaid
Michael Mark
as Ludwig, Peasant Father
Francis Ford
as Villager
Arletta Duncan
Lionel Belmore
as Herr Vogel, Burgomaster


James Whale
Carl Laemmle, Jr.
Peggy Webling
Play Author
Robert Florey
Mary Shelley
Book Author
Arthur Edeson
David Broekman
Composer (Music Score)
David Brockman
Composer (Music Score)
Maurice Pivar
Clarence Kolster
Charles Hall
Art Director
Herman Rosse
Set Designer
John P. Fulton
Special Effects
Jack P. Pierce