FRANKENSTEIN: THE TRUE STORY
1973/Director: Jack Smight/Writers: Don Bachardy, Christopher Isherwood
Cast: Michael Sarrazin, James Mason, Leonard Whiting, David McCallum, Jane Seymour, Nicola Pagett, Agnes Moorehead, John Gielgud, Tom Baker
I was lucky enough to actually see this fine film when it first aired on NBC as a two part movie back in 1973. I had not been able to see it again until only recently when I got a hold of the restored and full length, about three hours or more I guess, Universal Presents Frankenstein: The True Story DVD version. I read that there was an edited VHS version that was based more on the shortened European version of the film but never saw it. Now while the title claims it to be the "true version" I understand that a few liberties were made with the original Mary Shelley story, which I have never read, and we will touch on at least one of those later in the review. I guess to get the final word one may have to go visit the Frankensteinia blog, which I did earlier when doing some research for this post but I actually did not find a n article there on this most excellent Frankentstein film and hope one appears soon. If there is a post there I apologize in advance and if not beg that one be made someday. The same year that Frankenstein: The True Story came out another made for TV film was released that was written and produced by Dan Curtis that starred Robert Foxworth as Dr. Victor Frankenstein and Bo Svenson. I also saw that version though I would need to see it again to refresh my memory on the story but it too made some claims to being mostly true to the original story. I am not a Frankenstein movie scholar (I am no sort of movie scholar to be quite frank) but I know that 1974 saw the last of the Hammer Frankenstein films the fairly decent Terence Fisher film Frankenstein and the Monster from Hell which I reviewed here some time ago. Throughout the sixties Hammer had taken the Frankenstein story and did several new things with it and whether those were always great is debatable but it did pump life back into the legend as it also did with Dracula. There is, in my opinion, visual influence on this film version by director Jack Smight from Hammer and even veteran Hammer make up artist Roy Ashton did the effective make up for the monster. After all the fantastic stories and interpretations by Hammer it seemed time to reign the monster back in and recreate him yet once again.