The Bride of Frankenstein (1935)/Waxman
January 27, 2013
Like other Hollywood films THE BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN had a story in the making of the picture as interesting as the film itself. Carl Laemmle Jr. was in the process of forming his own production company and wasn’t interested in making it. James Whale, director of FRANKENSTEIN, had more interest in a H.G. Wells story A TRIP TO MARS but one could assume that $15,000, a hefty amount of money in the thirties changed his mind. The studio couldn’t decide whether to call it return or bride, there were delays as to the premiere, it was over budget and the list went on and on. When it finally premiered after a battle as to what theatre in New York was going to show the film it was a bit of a disappointment not approaching the success of the original FRANKENSTEIN (1931) which generated twelve million dollars in sales. Apparently they felt that the sequel would outdo the original at the box office. Dream on.
Franz Waxman (1906-1967) was given the assignment to score the film by Whale because he liked what he did with the Fritz Lang picture LILIOM and he didn’t disappoint him, turning in a superb soundtrack. Working with a rather small orchestra, between 22 and 40 musicians Waxman like Steiner approached this as a Wagner opera and filled it with several leitmotifs for the characters in the picture. While it was not mentioned for an Oscar nomination it is this reviewer’s opinion that it was the best score for 1935. “The Bride of Frankenstein-Main Title” which I’ve included as an audio track main title bride of frankenstein begins with a harp glissando, tremolo from the strings and is followed by the five note monster motif from the brass, one you’ll hear many times in the score. There is a brief reference to the Dr. Pretorius theme, and the Bride theme, a three note motif. The track ends with a reference to the Bride theme, a majestic dreamlike melody. “Prologue-Menuetto and Storm” takes you back to romantic era of classical music with its minuet intertwined with a few dramatic bars. This listener can hear both Mozart and Beethoven references. “Monster Entrance” repeats the monster motif as well as a comic motif for Minnie. It is played by the flute with the clarinet and bassoon answering the theme. “Processional March” is played Grave tempo with strings and sounds like a funeral march. “The Creation,” music that was played when the Bride was brought to life incorporates all of the themes that Waxman had created. The longest of the cues, it plays out like a short tone poem (10 minutes in length) and is still as fresh sounding nearly eighty years later. The CD concludes with a short suite from THE INVISIBLE RAY (1936), what is available from the Karloff/Lugosi thriller.
Given the limited budget that Waxman had to work with he created a soundtrack that has become a template for others to follow. Kenneth Alwyn and the Westminster Philharmonic give a good performance and is the CD of choice offering forty minutes of material. The Sound Track Factory (SFCD33554) offer an OST release which unfortunately includes sound effects and dialogue from the film. As part of his Waxman release Charles Gerhardt offers a suite of the material in his usual excellent performance. This is an early score that certainly belongs in your collection. Highly recommended.
Total Duration: 00:46:09