The Ghost of Frankenstein (1942)

65 or 67 mins | Horror | 6 March 1942

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HISTORY

This was the fourth Universal film to feature the "Frankenstein monster," and it followed the storyline established by the previous film, Son of Frankenstein (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1931-40 ; F3.4191). It was the first Universal "Frankenstein" film, however, in which Boris Karloff did not play the role of the monster. According to HR , Universal learned in mid-Nov 1941 that Karloff's commitment to the Broadway play Arsenic and Old Lace would make it impossible for the actor to appear in this production, so Lon Chaney, Jr. was chosen to replace him. In late Dec 1941, HR reported that Chaney suffered a severe allergic reaction to the monster makeup used by Jack Pierce and missed several days of shooting. Actors Michael Mark and Lionel Belmore, who play councillors in this film, also appeared in Son of Frankenstein , though their characters were killed in the earlier film. According to modern sources, Universal would not admit to a casting error in this matter, arguing instead that it was a company policy to reuse the same actors in the "Frankenstein" series to maintain a sense of continuity.
       According to Universal publicity materials, director of photography Milton Krasner used a one-inch wide angle lens to shoot most of the film. Universal press materials also state that Lon Chaney, who was six feet, three inches tall and weighed 220 pounds, became six feet, nine inches tall and weighed 284 pounds when wearing the monster costume and makeup. Modern sources state that in Eric Taylor's original draft of the film's screenplay, the character of "Wolf von Frankenstein," who was ... More Less

This was the fourth Universal film to feature the "Frankenstein monster," and it followed the storyline established by the previous film, Son of Frankenstein (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1931-40 ; F3.4191). It was the first Universal "Frankenstein" film, however, in which Boris Karloff did not play the role of the monster. According to HR , Universal learned in mid-Nov 1941 that Karloff's commitment to the Broadway play Arsenic and Old Lace would make it impossible for the actor to appear in this production, so Lon Chaney, Jr. was chosen to replace him. In late Dec 1941, HR reported that Chaney suffered a severe allergic reaction to the monster makeup used by Jack Pierce and missed several days of shooting. Actors Michael Mark and Lionel Belmore, who play councillors in this film, also appeared in Son of Frankenstein , though their characters were killed in the earlier film. According to modern sources, Universal would not admit to a casting error in this matter, arguing instead that it was a company policy to reuse the same actors in the "Frankenstein" series to maintain a sense of continuity.
       According to Universal publicity materials, director of photography Milton Krasner used a one-inch wide angle lens to shoot most of the film. Universal press materials also state that Lon Chaney, who was six feet, three inches tall and weighed 220 pounds, became six feet, nine inches tall and weighed 284 pounds when wearing the monster costume and makeup. Modern sources state that in Eric Taylor's original draft of the film's screenplay, the character of "Wolf von Frankenstein," who was featured in Son of Frankenstein , was revived. In addition, the mad scientist "Theodor Bohmer" was a hunchback, not a physician in the first draft. As the character of "Dr. Kettering" did not exist in the earlier draft, Ludwig used the brain of Cloestine's father, who had been killed earlier by the monster. Theodor made the "brain switch" after the monster accidentally killed Ygor as well. Modern sources also state that Eddie Parker worked as a stuntman on the film and list Teddy Infuhr as a boy in the cast. For more information on films featuring the Frankenstein monster, see the Series Index and the entry for Frankenstein in AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1931-40 ; F3.1465. More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
7 Mar 1942.
---
Daily Variety
12-Dec-41
---
Daily Variety
2 Mar 42
p. 3.
Film Daily
5 Mar 42
p. 9.
Hollywood Reporter
13 Nov 41
p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter
14 Nov 41
p. 7.
Hollywood Reporter
5 Dec 41
p. 7.
Hollywood Reporter
12 Dec 41
p. 9.
Hollywood Reporter
31 Dec 41
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
2 Mar 42
p. 3.
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
7 Mar 42
p. 539.
New York Times
4 Apr 42
p. 19.
Variety
4 Mar 42
p. 8.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
PRODUCER
WRITERS
Orig story
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Dir of photog
ART DIRECTORS
Art dir
FILM EDITOR
Film ed
SET DECORATOR
COSTUMES
Gowns
MUSIC
Mus score
Gen mus dir
SOUND
[Sd] tech
MAKEUP
Makeup artist
DETAILS
Release Date:
6 March 1942
Production Date:
15 December 1941--early January 1942
Copyright Claimant:
Universal Pictures Co., inc.
Copyright Date:
10 March 1942
Copyright Number:
LP11129
Physical Properties:
Sound
Western Electric Mirrophonic Recording
Black and White
Duration(in mins):
65 or 67
Length(in feet):
6,062
Country:
United States
PCA No:
8129
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

The villagers of Frankenstein meet in their town hall and proclaim that the hamlet is cursed by the deceased Baron Heinrich Frankenstein, creator of the famed monster. The mayor reminds them that the monster has been killed and that Ygor, the mad doctor's assistant, was "riddled with bullets" by the baron's oldest son Wolf. The townspeople nevertheless decide to destroy Frankenstein's castle, hoping to break the curse, but they inadvertently release the monster from its "grave" in the sulphur pits. The crippled Ygor then decides to take the monster to Dr. Ludwig Frankenstein, the second son of the baron. Ygor and the monster arrive in Ludwig's village of Vasaria, where the monster befriends a young girl named Cloestine Hussman and is then captured by the villagers. When the village prosecutor, Erik Ernst, asks Ludwig to examine a "madman" who has been chained in the police station, the doctor discovers that it is his father's creation. Ygor tells Ludwig that only he can fix the monster's "sick" brain, but Ludwig insists that he wants nothing to do with his family's legacy. The monster is later put on trial, and when Ludwig claims no knowledge of him, the irate creature breaks his chains and, with the help of Ygor, escapes. That night, Elsa Frankenstein sneaks into her father's library and learns of the family secret from her grandfather's diary. Ygor and the monster later go to the Frankenstein villa, where the monster kills Ludwig's assistant, Dr. Kettering. Ludwig captures the monster with the use of sulfuric gas, then promises his daughter that he will find a way to destroy it. Ludwig ... +


The villagers of Frankenstein meet in their town hall and proclaim that the hamlet is cursed by the deceased Baron Heinrich Frankenstein, creator of the famed monster. The mayor reminds them that the monster has been killed and that Ygor, the mad doctor's assistant, was "riddled with bullets" by the baron's oldest son Wolf. The townspeople nevertheless decide to destroy Frankenstein's castle, hoping to break the curse, but they inadvertently release the monster from its "grave" in the sulphur pits. The crippled Ygor then decides to take the monster to Dr. Ludwig Frankenstein, the second son of the baron. Ygor and the monster arrive in Ludwig's village of Vasaria, where the monster befriends a young girl named Cloestine Hussman and is then captured by the villagers. When the village prosecutor, Erik Ernst, asks Ludwig to examine a "madman" who has been chained in the police station, the doctor discovers that it is his father's creation. Ygor tells Ludwig that only he can fix the monster's "sick" brain, but Ludwig insists that he wants nothing to do with his family's legacy. The monster is later put on trial, and when Ludwig claims no knowledge of him, the irate creature breaks his chains and, with the help of Ygor, escapes. That night, Elsa Frankenstein sneaks into her father's library and learns of the family secret from her grandfather's diary. Ygor and the monster later go to the Frankenstein villa, where the monster kills Ludwig's assistant, Dr. Kettering. Ludwig captures the monster with the use of sulfuric gas, then promises his daughter that he will find a way to destroy it. Ludwig asks Dr. Theodor Bohmer to help him dissect the monster, a reversal of his father's method of creation, but the insanely jealous surgeon refuses. As he prepares for the dissection, Ludwig is visited by his father's ghost, who asks him to save his life's work by replacing the diseased brain with a new one. Ludwig then decides to replace the monster's brain with that of the recently deceased Kettering. Ygor protests that the operation will cost him "his friend," and offers his own brain instead. When Ludwig refuses, Ygor convinces Bohmer to perform the operation with his brain, offering the physician unlimited power in return. Meanwhile, Erik and the chief constable arrive at the Frankenstein home and insist on searching the estate for the missing Kettering. While they discover numerous secret passageways, they do not find the monster, who is now loose and roaming the village. The monster abducts Cloestine and "tells" Ludwig that he want Cloestine's brain, but with the help of Elsa, the little girl is spirited away. The operation begins, with Bohmer, unknown to Ludwig, using Ygor's brain. Two weeks later, Cloestine's father rallies the townspeople against Frankenstein, but Erik convinces them to let him question the doctor before they act. Ludwig confesses all to the prosecutor, then learns that he has been tricked by Ygor and Bohmer. When the townspeople attack the castle, Ygor, now living inside the monster's body, orders Bohmer to turn on a deadly dose of the sulfuric gas. As Erik rushes off to warn the invaders, Ygor suddenly begins to lose his eyesight. Ludwig informs him that because he and the monster have different blood types, their sensory nerves will not work. The angry Ygor then kills Bohmer, and, in his blind madness, sets the castle on fire, killing himself and Ludwig. Erik and Elsa escape, however, and walk away from the burning castle to face a new life together. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.