Friday, October 09, 2015

Movie review - "Curse of Frankenstein" (1957) *** (another viewing)

This screened on TCM and I can never resist the chance to re-watch Hammer horror. The print wasn't the best - or maybe the colour photography for the first Hammer horror simply wasn't that great. The art direction remains impressive.

I was struck by how inherently inexpensive the film has been constructed - screenwriter Jimmy Sangster was a production manager and used to be able to budget his scripts himself down to the last cent (or pence, rather). Most of the action is two handers or three handers - Robert Urquhart and the young Frankenstein, Urquhart and Cushing, Cushing and Hazel Court, Cushing and Lee, etc. It also mostly takes place indoors

A lot of it is also like a play, or TV play - scenes of people sitting/standing around talking. There are some staircases and entrances and exits to keep it a bit lively and Terence Fisher does an okay job - but it only gets up and moving at certain times. (I think this is budget more than Fisher because in other films such as Dracula - Prince of Darkness things are very cinematic.)

Peter Cushing's performance looks better over the years - intense, glowering, dynamic. Christopher Lee's monster remains spectacularly unimpressive - a very mediocre turn (anyone could have played this, really - no sympathy). Hazel Court is wasted in a nothing part but Valerie Gaunt gets a flashy role as the maid seduced by Frankenstein (Gaunt is fine just not as charismatic or sexy as Court - I wish they'd swapped roles). Urquhart does his best in what is a terrible role really, as Frankenstein's friend, who has to help him, then get offended. (I always struggle with this part in Frankenstein movies - it's better if Frankenstein's assistant is fully committed.)

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