Dan Curtiss Frankenstein was about the fourth major sound version of Mary Shelleys Frankenstein (1818). (See the bottom of the page for other screen versions of the story). What one can say is that of all these other adaptations, Dan Curtiss Frankenstein was the most faithful to Mary Shelley of any version made up to that point (and indeed was for a number of years). Indeed, this version of Frankenstein adheres to Mary Shelley far more closely than the more high profile tv adaptation Frankenstein: The True Story (1974) that was made the following year.
The faithfulness of this version is especially notable during the middle third. We get the classic scene with the monster hiding in the woodshed in the forest secretly observing the blind daughter and the old man, learning to speak as she hears the sons new Spanish wife being taught English, before he emerges to befriend the blind daughter but is driven away when the sighted family return. (The scene is slightly different in the book it is the old man that is blind, not the daughter, and the wife is Turkish not Spanish but this conducts an effective replication of the basics). In fact, this was the first time in any Frankenstein film up to that point that we have had a monster that can speak or at least voice more than a couple of words in Pidgin English. We also have the murder of Frankensteins brother William by the monster (although nothing of the framing and hanging of the maid Justine Moritz), as well as the scenes where Frankenstein and the monster meet up, he promises to make it a mate but then finds he cannot go through with such again. The meeting between Frankenstein and monster is given an interesting new spin here that no other version has ever done that the two meet up again by accident but the monster does not recognize Frankenstein as his creator.
On the minus side, Dan Curtiss Frankenstein has been made undeniably on the cheap. Frankensteins laboratory looks cramped, especially in comparison to the other screen versions (notably the magnificent laboratories in the Universal films) all that we see of the requisite lightning storm that brings the monster to life are flashes that light up the laboratory from outside the skylight window. The show is also hampered by Glenn Jordans run-of-the-mill tv direction. There is rarely much in Glenn Jordans direction that attempts to make Frankenstein seem more than say a standard tv soap opera episode and little to pump the story up for atmosphere. This is particularly noticeable at the end of the film, which substitutes Mary Shelleys moody climax where Frankenstein pursues the monster into the Arctic for a more mundane one where Frankenstein pursues the monster to the ruins of an abandoned mansion and dies after falling on a protruding piece of debris, after which the monster is shot by the authorities and poignantly dies with Frankensteins body in his arms weeping forgive me.
As Frankenstein, Robert Foxworth, later of Falcon Crest (1981-90) fame, seems too much the handsome leading man type to seem right as the brooding, guilt-ridden Frankenstein. As the monster, Bo Svenson has some of the innocent, hulking lugubriousness that Boris Karloff did in his classic essayal of the role. His monster seems more of a good-natured simpleton. (The casting of Bo Svenson does give us the odd novelty of the screens first (only???) blonde Frankenstein monster). Another interesting twist is Susan Strasbergs Elizabeth. Here Elizabeth, who has now also become Henry Clervals sister, is played as much more of a modern woman rather than the dutiful fiancee who is merely there to be abducted she even decides to leave Frankenstein because he has been neglecting her. This is probably the strongest characterization that Elizabeth has had in any screen version so far.
Other adaptations of Frankenstein are:- the famous Thomas A. Edison Frankenstein (1910), the lost Life Without Soul (1915) and the lost Italian The Monster of Frankenstein (1920); the classic Universal adaptation Frankenstein (1931) with Colin Clive as the Baron and Boris Karloff as the monster; Hammers excellent The Curse of Frankenstein (1957) with Peter Cushing as the Baron and Christopher Lee as the monster, a film that spun out its own series of sequels (see for which); a 1968 Thames tv production with Ian Holm as both the Baron and the monster; Hammers unfunny comic remake The Horror of Frankenstein (1970) with Ralph Bates as the Baron and Dave Prowse as the monster; the tv mini-series Frankenstein: The True Story (1974), which returned much more to the book, and featured Leonard Whiting as the Baron and Michael Sarrazin as the monster; the Swedish-Irish production Victor Frankenstein (1977) starring Leon Vitali as the Baron as Per Oscarsson as the monster; the tv movie Frankenstein (1984), with Robert Powell as the Baron and David Warner as the monster; David Wickess dull tv movie Frankenstein (1992) with Patrick Bergin as the Baron and Randy Quaid as the monster; Kenneth Branaghs quite faithful, big-budget Mary Shelleys Frankenstein (1994) with Branagh as the Baron and Robert De Niro as the monster; the tv mini-series Frankenstein (2004) with Alec Newman as Frankenstein and Luke Goss as the monster; Danny Boyles stage version of Frankenstein (2011) with Benedict Cumberbatch and Jonny Lee Miller alternating the role of Frankenstein and creation; and Victor Frankenstein (2015) with James McAvoy as Frankenstein.
Clip from the film here:-