Monday, June 10, 2013

"Bride of Frankenstein" and "The Petrified Forest"

Bride of Frankenstein

Elsa Lanchester, "Bride of Frankenstein," 1935.
Colin Clive "Bride of Frankenstein," 1935.

In "Bride of Frankenstein" (dir. James Whale, 1935) one can't help but feel for the Monster (Karloff.  He's thwarted at every attempt of a peaceful existence.  His creator, Henry Frankenstein (Colin Clive), reluctantly helps devise a bride for his earlier creation, helping the devious Septimus Pretorious, the guy who really put the "mad" in mad doctor.  And of course the female creature they piece together (Elsa Lanchester) wants nothing to do with the Monster, and why should see?  She sees him as a beast, as everyone else does, and not the gentle giant who was kind to the old blind man. 

The Petrified Forest

Bette Davis, "The Petrified Forest," 1936.

Humphrey Bogart, "The Petrified Forest," 1936.
"Petrified Forest" is just as famous for Humphrey Bogart's breakout role as the gangster Duke Mantee as it is for the tepid love story between philosopher/writer/drifter Leslie Howard and waitress Bette Davis.  Of course we are drawn to Duke, a "man of action," as opposed to Howard's Alan Squier, who is a bit of a loser.  (His desire to be a writer was stymied by a well heeled wife? C'mon.)  He spins a good yarn to Davis' Gabrielle, whose love of French poetry and desire to see her mother's France (and be a painter) makes her a sucker for someone like him.  Squier then "helps" Gabrielle by asking Duke to shoot him, leaving his life insurance policy for the girl, so she can go to France.  He "takes action" by committing virtual suicide.  Uggh.  I get it, self-sacrifice and everything, but it's such a passive attempt at nobility.  He could have also capture Duke and written a book about it!  At least Duke, who gets killed in a shoot out, dies trying to live!

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