When Universal set out to make its third Frankenstein film – 1939’s Son of Frankenstein – the original idea was to shoot the film in Technicolor as opposed to the more standard black and white. Test footage was shot in color, but then a decision was made to go back to black and white instead. Rumors have circulated for years that the reason this decision was made was because Boris Karloff’s makeup looked “too green” in the Technicolor format.
While that test footage isn’t available for viewing (there are two different stories about its whereabouts – one posits that it was stolen from Universal in the 1980s, while another reports that it’s simply stored in some New Jersey film vault), we can see what Son of Frankenstein would have looked like in color thanks to some Karloff family home movies from the set.
The brief video clip has been floating around online for awhile now, but it’s still really cool to see Karloff hamming it up on the set, sticking his tongue out at the camera, and playfully strangling legendary makeup artist Jack Pierce.
Karloff’s makeup appears green in the footage, but not in a distracting way. It’s more interesting to see Frankenstein’s infamous monster cavorting about and having fun. Why was Karloff so happy on the set? We can’t say for sure, but the iconic actor did become a father for the very first time during the filming. Might have been that – or maybe he knew this was the last time he’d go through the four-plus hour process to don the makeup for a feature film. That would have made us giddy too.
Check out the footage below.
[via Dangerous Minds]