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  • Writer's pictureGarrett Brodey

Dr. Henry Frankenstein: One Of My Favorite Film Characters

Dr. Henry Frankenstein the a main character from the two classic horror films: Frankenstein (1931) and The Bride of Frankenstein (1935). He’s the mad scientist who created life from a dead body with his own hands. He’s one of my favorite film characters. He is perfectly portrayed by Colin Clive.

Frankenstein is one of my favorite films of all time. Here’s a quick story. One of my earliest memories as a child was watching Frankenstein at my grandparent’s house when I was 5 years old. We lived on the same property and my brother, who was seven, was invited to go over to their house to watch Dracula (1931). I remember begging my parents to let me go with him and they surprisingly said yes. Probably just to shut me up. So I remember we walked down the driveway on a spooky Friday night in October. We got to their house and my brother turned to me and said “This is going to be scary. You’ve been warned.” I was up for the challenge. I don’t know why I wanted to watch it so badly. Maybe it was the fact that I wanted to watch a horror film or it was because my brother was doing something without me. Either way, we went inside and my grandparents were happy to see us. They had a VHS copy of Frankenstein (1931). My parents thought they said Dracula but they misheard them. My grandpa popped in the VHS and we watched the classic monster flick. I remember my experience, it was nothing I’ve ever seen before. It felt like a surreal nightmare but I was having a blast. The film blew my mind. I left terrified of course but enthralled. Frankenstein became one of my favorite horror films of all time. After that, my love for horror films was born.

Colin Clive is one of my favorite actors. He had that unique hypnotic voice that will stand the test of time. He was very versatile with every performance. In all the films I saw, he always gave it his all, and was always my favorite part. He starred in many films from 1930 to 1937. Unfortunately, Clive was an alcoholic and died because of it at the young age of 37 years old.

In Frankenstein (1931), the film starts off in a spooky cemetery where a funeral is being held. In the distance, we see two men watching. One being Dr. Frankenstein, and the other being his hunchback assistance Fritz. Once the funeral is over, the two men dig up the grave and take the coffin. As the film goes on, we see Dr. Frankenstein in his laboratory ready to bring life to a body he stitched together. Even though he’s interrupted by his fiancée, friend, and old professor, he continues on and his experiment works as he screams “It’s alive!” The first act of Frankenstein (1931) is one of my all time favorites. If you don’t know about the book, then you’ll be wondering who the hell is this crazy scientist and his weirdo assistant. I think it’s a brilliant set up to the characters and the world of the film.

As the film goes on, Frankenstein realizes his huge mistake of becoming a God and wants to destroy his creation and marry his fiancée. However, his actions have consequences and the Monster is out on the loose and the country land is in chaos. He kills people on purpose and on accident and almost kills Frankenstein’s wife. In the end, Frankenstein faces off against his creation in a burning windmill. The Monster throws Frankenstein off the top, almost killing him. The Monster then appears to burn to death.

Colin Clive as Dr. Henry Frankenstein is one of my all time favorite performances. In my opinion, he is the star of the film and he’s the best actor in it. He chews up every scene with his iconic maniac performance and his distinct voice. His voice is hypnotic. The way he speaks the iconic dialogue adds so much to this film. Clive brings so much humanity to the mad scientist. His iconic line "IT'S ALIVE!" is one of the best lines in cinematic history. I cannot praise his performance or this film enough.

Here are some of my favorite lines of dialogue:

“Look! It's moving. It's alive. It's alive... It's alive, it's moving, it's alive, it's alive, it's alive, it's alive, IT'S ALIVE!”

“Oh, in the name of God! Now I know what it feels like to be God!”

“Quite a good scene, isn't it? One man, crazy - three very sane spectators!”

“Dangerous? Poor old Waldman. Have you never wanted to do anything that was dangerous? Where should we be if no one tried to find out what lies beyond? Have you never wanted to look beyond the clouds and the stars, or to know what causes the trees to bud? And what changes the darkness into light? But if you talk like that, people call you crazy. Well, if I could discover just one of these things, what eternity is, for example, I wouldn't care if they did think I was crazy.”

The Bride of Frankenstein (1935) is the greatest sequel of all time in my opinion. Colin Clive returned and he's a wonderful addition in this film. Unfortunately, he wasn’t doing well with his alcohol addiction and his health so he’s not in this as much. Still, he slides back into his role as Dr. Henry Frankenstein with ease. This is Boris Karloff’s film. The original is Colin Clive’s film but in this one, Karloff shines like the bright star he became. Karloff gives the role his all and he succeeds in spades. I love Clive’s chemistry with Dr. Pretorius. I like the fact that his character survives in the end. The monster allows him to live even though he created him and disowned him. Clive is brilliant in this film, even though Karloff steals the show.

Dr. Frankenstein continues to want to leave his mad scientist days in the past but the evil yet fascinating Dr. Pretorius enters the story and tries to pull him back into that dark world. He wants to create a Bride for the Monster. Frankenstein is heavily against this until he’s blackmailed into doing it. In the end, the Bride rejects the Monster. Before he blows up the laboratory, the Monster allows his creator to live. After all of that Frankenstein and his wife survive as the laboratory burns down.

Like I said, Clive unfortunately died at the young age of 37. He never starred as Henry Frankenstein again. It’s very tragic in my opinion. I’d love nothing more than to see him as that character in his own series, but that did not happen. The two films he starred in as Dr. Henry Frankenstein are masterpieces. His performance is one of my all time favorites.

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