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Karloff, Chaney, Lugosi And All The Rest

June 13, 1993|SUSAN KING | TIMES STAFF WRITER

TNT's is the latest. Boris Karloff's is the most famous. But over the past 80 years, there have been numerous adaptations of Mary Shelley's 1818 novel.

The first screen "Frankenstein" was produced way back in 1910. The 16-minute version, which starred Charles Ogle as the monster, was filmed at Edison Studios in New Jersey.

The first full-length version, "Life Without a Soul," was released six years later. Percy Darnell Standing played the creation in this modernized version shot in Florida, Georgia, Arizona, New York and the Atlantic Ocean.

The Italian cinema got into the act in 1920 with "Il Mostro di Frankenstein," starring Luciano Albertini as Dr. Frankenstein.

Boris Karloff gave a remarkable performance in the 1931 horror classic "Frankenstein." Directed by James Whale, the film also starred Colin Clive as Dr. Frankenstein. Karloff, Clive and Whale reteamed in 1935 for the acclaimed sequel "Bride of Frankenstein." This time around, Elsa Lanchester is featured as Mary Shelley in the film's prologue and in the title role.

Karloff donned his bolts and big boots one last time for the atmospheric 1939 thriller "Son of Frankenstein." Basil Rathbone stars in the title role and Bela Lugosi is the hunchback shepherd Ygor.

Lon Chaney Jr. is the monster in 1942's "Ghost of Frankenstein." Lugosi also returns as Ygor and Sir Cedric Hardwick plays the Frankenstein descendant who can't keep out of the laboratory.

In 1943's "Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man," Lugosi plays the monster--a role he had tested for back in 1930. Lon Chaney Jr. co-stars as the Wolf Man, and Ilona Massey is Frankenstein's meddling relative.

Glenn Strange makes his first appearance as the monster in 1944's "House of Frankenstein." Karloff co-stars as the mad scientist who rejuvenates him. Strange returns as the monster in 1945's "House of Dracula" and 1948's "Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein."

Great Britain's Hammer Studios produced several popular "Frankenstein" films, kicking off in 1957 with "The Curse of Frankenstein," starring Peter Cushing ("Star Wars") as Dr. Frankenstein and Christopher Lee as the monster. Other Hammer horror flicks include: 1958's "Revenge of Frankenstein," 1964's "The Evil of Frankenstein," 1967's "Frankenstein Created Woman," 1970's "Frankenstein Must Be Destroyed," 1970's "House of Frankenstein" and 1944's "Frankenstein and the Monster From Hell." David Prowse, who would later play Darth Vader in the "Star Wars" trilogy, is the monster in the latter two.

Of course, there's a whole array of schlocky Frankenstein flicks including 1957's "I Was a Teen-Age Frankenstein," with Whit Bissell as the modern-day mad scientist who uses bodies of teen-agers killed in hot-rod accidents to make his monster (Gary Conway); 1958's "Frankenstein 1970," which finds Karloff as the good doctor's last descendant who creates an atomic monster from the money he received by selling the TV rights to his story.

Then there's 1959's "Frankenstein's Daughter," with John Ashley and Sandra Knight, about a mad scientist who creates a black-leather clad female monster. In the 1966 epic, "Jesse James Meets Frankenstein's Daughter," Frankie's offspring transforms one of Jesse James' men into a monster.

Television has had its fair share of Frankenstein flicks, most notably Dan Curtis' 1973, two-part adaptation that aired late-night on ABC. Robert Foxworth stars as Dr. Frankenstein and Bo Svenson of "Walking Tall" fame as his creation.

NBC's lavish 1973 miniseries "Frankenstein: The True Story" stars Leonard Whiting ("Romeo and Juliet") as the young doctor, and Michael Sarrazin as an innocent, handsome monster whose appearance and demeanor radically changes. Jane Seymour co-stars as the doctor's female creation.

The funniest "Frankenstein" film is Mel Brooks' riotous 1974 comedy "Young Frankenstein." Wild-haired Gene Wilder plays Dr. Frankenstein and Peter Boyle portrays his creation. The highlight: Wilder and Boyle's duet of "Puttin' on the Ritz" in top hat and tails.

And later this year, Kenneth Branagh will direct and star in a new theatrical version. None other than Robert De Niro will play the monster.

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