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Bring some personality home. The Bride of Frankenstein is a 1935 American science fiction horror film and the first sequel to Universal Pictures 1931 film Frankenstein.
As with the first film, Bride of Frankenstein was directed by James Whale and stars Boris Karloff as the Monster. The sequel features Elsa Lanchester in the dual role of Mary Shelley and the titular character at the end of the film. Colin Clive reprises his role as Henry Frankenstein and Ernest Thesiger plays the role of Doctor Septimus Pretorius.
The Bride of Frankenstein was released to critical and popular acclaim although it encountered difficulties with some state and national censorship boards. Since its release, the film's reputation has grown and it is now frequently considered one of the greatest sequels ever made and many fans and critics consider it to be an improvement on the original and it has been hailed as Whale's masterpiece.
In 1998 it was selected by the Library of Congress for preservation in the United States National Film Registry having been deemed "culturally historically or aesthetically significant".
According to a studio publicist Whale and Universal's studio psychiatrist decided "the Monster would have the mental age of a ten-year-old boy and the emotional age of a lad of fifteen".
Colin Clive and Boris Karloff reprised their roles from Frankenstein as creator and creation respectively. Hobson recalled Clive's alcoholism had worsened since filming the original but Whale did not recast the role because his "hysterical quality" was necessary for the film. Karloff strongly objected to the decision to allow the Monster to speak. "Speech! Stupid! My argument was that if the monster had any impact or charm it was because he was inarticulate - this great lumbering inarticulate creature. The moment he spoke you might as well ... play it straight."
This decision also meant that Karloff could not remove his dental plate so now his cheeks did not have the sunken look of the original film. Whale and the studio psychiatrist selected 44 simple words for the Monster's vocabulary by looking at test papers of 10-year-olds working at the studio.
Boris Karloff is credited simply as KARLOFF which was Universal's custom during the height of his career. Elsa Lanchester is credited for Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley but in a nod to the earlier film, the Monster's bride is credited only as "?" just as Boris Karloff had been in the opening credits of Frankenstein. Lanchester modelled the Bride's hissing on the hissing of swans. She gave herself a sore throat while filming the hissing sequence which Whale shot from multiple angles.
Bride of Frankenstein was subjected to censorship both during production by the Hays office and following its release by local and national censorship boards. Joseph Breen lead censor for the Hays office objected to lines of dialogue in the originally submitted script in which Henry Frankenstein and his work were compared to that of God. Breen also objected to the number of murders both seen and implied by the script and strongly advised Whale to reduce the number. The censor's office upon reviewing the film in March 1935 required a number of cuts. Whale agreed to delete a sequence in which Dwight Frye's "Nephew Glutz" kills his uncle and blames the Monster and shots of Elsa Lanchester as Mary Shelley in which Breen felt too much of her breasts were visible. Curiously despite his earlier objection, Breen offered no objection to the cruciform imagery throughout the film - including a scene with the Monster lashed Christ-like to a pole - nor to the presentation of Pretorius as a coded homosexual. Bride of Frankenstein was approved by the Production Code office on April 15 1935.
Following its release with the Code seal of approval, the film was challenged by the censorship board in the state of Ohio. Censors in England and China objected to the scene in which the Monster gazes longingly upon the as-yet unanimated body of the Bride citing concerns that it looked like necrophilia. Universal voluntarily withdrew the film from Sweden because of the extensive cuts demanded and Bride was rejected outright by Trinidad Palestine and Hungary. Additionally, Japanese censors objected to the scene in which Pretorius chases his miniature Henry VIII with tweezers asserting that it constituted "making a fool out of a king".
In 1998 the film was added to the United States National Film Registry having been deemed "culturally historically or aesthetically significant". Frequently identified as James Whale's masterpiece the film is lauded as "the finest of all gothic horror movies".
Time rated Bride of Frankenstein in its "ALL-TIME 100 Movies" in which critics Richard Corliss and Richard Schickel overruled the magazine's original review to declare the film "one of those rare sequels that are infinitely superior to its source".
In 2008 Bride was selected by Empire magazine as one of The 500 Greatest Movies of All Time. Also in 2008 the Boston Herald named it the second greatest horror film after Nosferatu. In 2016 James Charisma of Playboy ranked the film #7 on a list of 15 Sequels That Are Way Better Than The Originals. Entertainment Weekly considers the film superior to Frankenstein.