Another horrifying oversight in my film viewing.
While a far more ambitious and confident film than its immediate predecessor, Bride of Frankenstein suffers from a schizophrenic personality. The final third is brilliant, with much to love within. The first two thirds, however, are quite uneven, with the most glaring evidence of a genre imbalance being Una O’Connor as Minnie, who seems to believe she’s in a Laurel & Hardy short, or is at least acting in a preposterously over the top manner, and unlike Frederick Kerr’s performance in the original, this one doesn’t feel “of a kind” with the rest. Colin Clive, is even better in this, far more manic and haunted, likely due in part to his alcoholism. Karloff (impressively billed only as Karloff) is again quite good, even through the growing pain bizarreness of “smoke good.” But it’s Ernest Thesiger’s Dr Pretorius that threatens to walk away with the entire film, as he’s operating right on that camp/drama line, and plays everything as though it was his own in-joke. Speaking of stealing the show, all I’d ever seen of Elsa Lanchester’s bride was her scream, but the bobs and twitches and hisses she does in her far-too-short performance are absolutely wonderful and feel bizarrely modern.
I would definitely revisit this film over 1931’s original, but I’m more likely to revisit everything after Pretorius finally gets Frankenstein to agree to help, because that is a masterpiece of cinema.