AWESOME-tober-fest 2019: The Forgotten Frankenstein and other lost cinema treasures

Awesometoberfest 2019

In Fangoria #2 (1979), there was an article about Universal’s Frankenstein. But it wasn’t about the Boris Karloff movie. It was about the original incarnation of the movie that starred Bela Lugosi as the monster.  It was called The Forgotten Frankenstein. 

It started the article with a picture of the original poster that proclaimed Bela Lugosi as the star (click images to make them BIGGER).

The article says the initial development for Frankenstein was done by Robert Florey and in his development Lugosi was to be Dr Frankenstein, not the monster. However, when his treatment was approved by the studio, they insisted Lugosi be the monster.

As Florey was writing the script they brought in Lugosi, Karloff and several other actors to do a fully costumed test reel. Florey says they shot and edited two reels of footage which included the full Jack Pierce makeup. Lugosi was offered the role, but turned it down exclaiming the tall lumbering mute was beneath him. Karloff was ultimately given the role and then Florey was dropped from the director chair and replaced by James Whale.  After this, all the test reel footage and some of the development for Florey’s version of Frankenstein were lost.

This article reminded me that there is a series of books on similar subjects written by Phillip J Riley, which you can find on Amazon.  The series includes original shooting scripts for a ton of early Universal movies as well as “alternate history” exposes on some of those movies including the Lugosi Frankenstein, the Lon Chaney Dracula, the Boris Karloff Invisible Man, the Karloff Return of Frankenstein and even one on the lost Chaney London after Midnight film.  Lots of fun alternate film history out there to read!



Also, check out the blog Countdown to Halloween for more Halloween-y, bloggy AWESOMEness.

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