Saturday, October 2, 2010

Backstage With Frankie

So here we are again, with night two of the Countdown to Halloween. This time, I thought I'd share a few backstage pictures from the set of the 1931 Universal Pictures Frankenstein. I'm a huge fan of the Universal monster movies. I first saw most of them when I was still young enough for them to scare me, and as I grew up I came to appreciate them as the finely-crafted pieces of pop entertainment they are. Which brings me to my first picture for tonight...

Ugly Parlor

That's Boris Karloff in the chair, of course, and the rather intense-looking dude on the left is Jack Pierce, the make-up genius behind most of the classic Universal monster make-ups. Pierce did amazing work, applying his monster make-up in pieces that took painstaking hours to apply, but that allowed his actors a full range of facial expression. His dedication to quality is one of the reasons the Universal monsters became so iconic, and why everyone thinks of the Frankenstein monster as a tall, gangly man with a flat head and bolts in his neck. Here's Pierce with Karloff again, looking even more intense...

Chop Top

One quick note here: look at the difference in Karloff's face between this picture and the one above. In this earlier stage of the make-up job, we're seeing Karloff's normal bone structure. Above, Pierce is applying the shading on the right cheek that helped make it look like one side of the monster's face was caved in. Karloff actually removed a dental plate on that side of his mouth to pull off the effect, which was based on injuries Pierce and Karloff had observed in injured soldiers from WWI. Verisimilitude, baby!

Smoke Good!

A rare quite moment for Dr. Frankenstein and his creation, enjoying a spot of tea and a cancer stick between takes. Ahhh! Refreshing! 

A Monster of Distinction

No matter how squalid the surroundings, the cultured monster always looks sharp. Here, we see the famous  Frankensteinian style as the Monster fancies up even a common bathrobe with an ascot and a finger sandwich.

And that's it for Night Two! Until tomorrow...

Good night, whatever you are!

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