DATELINE: Great Actor Misused
The 1971 schlock version is one of those international efforts done on a shoestring budget, re-imagining rather poorly the better done Hollywood stuff of several decades earlier. This title was redone a few years ago, but the original starred Rosalba Neri, who never made it to Hollywood, and never made it much beyond bad movies in the title role.
The real draw of this film done on cheap film stock that has not held up is one of the foremost gentleman stars of Old Hollywood: Joseph Cotten. Without his presence, we’d probably have shut this off well before his exit from the picture at around 40 minutes, not quite half the movie.
Cotten must have needed a paycheck, but he must have known his name would guarantee this drive-in drivel would be seen in the U.S.. No matter for him, his best roles were behind.
He never won an Oscar, despite working with Hitchcock as the Merry Widow Killer in 1942, or as a costar to Orson Welles many times, including Ciitizen Kane and The Third Man. He even did a turn opposite Marilyn Monroe in Niagara. Here, the great star slums in his work with Mel Welles, not Orson, as director. Instead of respected classics, Mel Welles was known for low budgets like Little Shop of Horrors (again, the original).
There are no real names here, except Mickey Hargitay as the captain or constable of police. And, unlike the old Universal classics in which the aristocrats had British accents of the first order, here you have a mishmash of American and international accents that make the setting hard to fathom.
One villain, the Resurrection Man, is named Lynch, which is hardly Eastern European like the original Frankensteins. Here too, Cotten is both Baron Frankenstein and Doctor, though he seems to prefer Dr. His daughter is an early Suffragette of sorts, having done med school and is also a surgeon who will take over Dear Old Dad’s lab.
The Monster is disfigured by accident by lightning during the revival process, but his brain—as usual—was defective from the get-go. Oh, well. Better luck next time.