Between 1830 and 1930, the Gothic novel became a successful play. During a century, dozens of plays dealt with history in their own way and the novel fell into the public domain. In 1931, Universal bought the rights to one of these adaptations of a play in the United States, and waited for the right director to make a movie about it. In Hollywood, “talking movies” are the latest innovation. Theater screenwriters are repeatedly hired to write dialogues.
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Among these writers is James Will. He chose for his next film the sleeping scenario of Frankenstein: a mad scientist, a laboratory in a mansion, a monster and a young bride capable of uttering shrill cries. For the role of the creature, Boris Karlov chose a certain. This name is the pseudonym of William Henry Pratt, the son of a good British family of Indian descent. With his dark eyes and charisma, he is in his forties, still far from uttering his last word on screen. The creation of the monster is entrusted to Jack Pearce, an angry but talented makeup artist, who will create all the Universal monsters: the mummy, Frankenstein, the werewolf and the famous Dracula.
Every filming day, Boris Karloff undergoes four hours of make-up, in the middle of a California summer. The challenge is worth the effort: At the end of 1931, Frankenstein was Universal Studios’s scariest and most profitable monster.
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