Frankenstein: The True Story ***

Amazon Prime could surely have sourced a better print that the rather grainy one chosen to reflect this mid-1970’s US tv version of Mary Shelley’s classic story. Not only that, but this shortened feature-length version is clearly and dramatically cut to a degree which renders several scenes and characters laughable. It’s worth complaining about, because Jack Smight’s re-telling of the Frankenstein story is highly original, and those who claim it’s the best version to date aren’t wrong. Writer Christopher Isherwood was responsible for the genesis of the musical Cabaret, and radically re-noses the story to focus on the close relationship between Frankenstein (Leonard Whiting) and Dr Henri Clerval (David McCallum). Other innovations include a new character, Polidori (James Mason), a moustache-twirling villain who dominates the second half of the story. And there’s an innovative twist, taken from the book itself, that the monster does not initially appear hideous, but deteriorates as his ills increase, and the monsters mate storyline is also carried over, with Jane Seymour the improbable result. Frankenstein; The True Story has a variable production and a weak lead, but it’s a literate, clever adaptation that makes the ancient story come up in a fresh and dynamic way.


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  1. Yeah, this is a really crappy print, heavily and clumsily edited. I have vivid memories of seeing it during it’s original airing back in the 1970s because it was presented during the heyday of the TV Mini-Series and was heralded as a special, two-night event on NBC. I watched ten minutes of this sometime last summer and turned it off.

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