The Ghost of Frankenstein (1942)

DailyView: Day 184, Movie 266

I was watching the Movie Trivia Schmoedown singles tournament match-up between The Barbarian and Paul Oyama today and Oyama spun the category of Movie Monsters in the Wheel Round (Round 2). One of the questions of the round was from the movie, The Ghost of Frankenstein, which I had not heard of. Oyama missed the question and the Barbarian failed to steal it. That made me curious about the movie so I headed over to Vudu to rent the Universal Monster film.

There have been a bunch of Frankenstein movies since the original in 1931. In fact, The Ghost of Frankenstein was the fourth film in the franchise and it continued on from the previous films.

The Monster was now being played by monster movie icon Lon Chaney Jr, who was known from his titular roles in The Mummy and The Wolf Man. Another monster icon, Dracula himself, Bela Legosi, played Ygor, the former lab assistant/henchman of Victor Frankenstein. Dr. Ludwig Frankenstein (Cedric Hardwicke) was the second some on Henry Frankenstein and was approached by Ygor to help.

The villagers had blamed all of their problems on the Frankenstein name and they went to destroy the Frankenstein castle. However, their attempt to blow up the castle only served to free the Monster from its tomb, bringing it back to life. Ygor, who had been protecting the Monster for years, helped the Monster escape from police custody.

The Monster had inadvertently killed several bystanders during his rampage and the crowd was becoming angry at the failure of law enforcement at stopping the Monster. The town prosecutor, Erik Ernst (Ralph Bellamy), who was engaged to Ludwig’s daughter, tried to keep the crowd from becoming a lawless mob.

Meanwhile, Ygor had brought the Monster to Ludwig who figured out that the brain that had been put in the Monster at its rebirth was the brain of an evil person. Ludwig had decided to attempt to change that fact, by transplanting the brain of his friend, Dr. Kettering (Barton Yarborough), who the Monster had killed, into the Monster’s head. Ygor did not agree with this plan and wanted to have his own brain transferred into the Monster’s head. With the help of Dr. Theodore Bohmer (Lionel Atwill) and without the knowledge of Ludwig, Ygor succeeded.

Ygor was shown to be a manipulator and Bela Legosi played the role with all the gusto you would expect from him. While Cedric Hardwicke was fairly unremarkable as Ludwig, the Monster and Ygor stood out, showing the skill of these iconic horror actors.

I would have liked for the final struggle of the Monster be a little more played out. Once the brain surgery was over, it ended fairly quickly after that. Perhaps we could have lived with Ygor as the Monster for a little bit before the film came to an end. At a sparse 68 minutes, The Ghost of Frankenstein did not wear out its welcome.

Still, it was a fun watch and it had some great work, especially from Bela Legosi. It was a decent film that flew by, even if it may have needed another 15-20 minutes.

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