Since Halloween is just around the corner, I thought who better to be Movie Hero of the Week than The Bride of Frankenstein herself, Elsa Lanchester? I first came across Ms. Lanchester as Katie Nanna in the Disney Mary Poppins. She is just so delightfully disgusted by everything. They way she barely uses the tips of her fingers to remove Mrs. Banks’ satin suffragette ribbon…just fabulous.
She also appears in another slightly cheesy fave of mine, That Darn Cat! I have such a soft spot for 60’s movies, so I was thrilled to see her in Bell, Book, and Candle. Bell, Book, and Candle is one of those films where I have to put some principles away to enjoy it, but once I do, it’s delightful. She plays a batshit half-assed witch.
She also appears in Lassie Come Home, Sullivan’s Travels, and the Razor’s Edge. I looked for her turn in some of my favorite movies, but all I could find was “Sister Suffragette” from Mary Poppins. It’s a good clip, anyhoo.
But her role of a lifetime was that of Mary Shelley and The Bride of Frankenstein, a film that is actually truly funny and sad and weird. I recommend it. You see, while Frankenstein is tragic and philosophical, The Bride of Frankenstein is hilarious , and satirical, and arguably avant-garde. Many of the barbs in Young Frankenstein actually come from Bride, particularly Frau Blucher (insert whinny here.) And yet the film retains our sympathy with The Monster. This clip kind of has it all.
I’ve heard her referred to as a “tall, bird woman.” And truly, she is unique. Her voice has this sort of forward in the mouth, proper quality, and yet she appears a mess, at times.
So hats off to Elsa Lanchester! Icon, character actor (whatever that means), and one of my faves. I’m adding Death by Murder to my queue. What a cast!
*What is a movie hero? An un or under-sung member of the filmmaking community who deserves more of the spotlight. And yet lack of such a spotlight often adds to their charm.