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Frankenstein - The True Story
Frankenstein - The True Story
Actors: James Mason, Leonard Whiting, David McCallum, Jane Seymour, Nicola Pagett
Director: Jack Smight
Genres: Horror, Science Fiction & Fantasy, Television, Sports
UR     2006     3hr 2min



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Movie Details

Actors: James Mason, Leonard Whiting, David McCallum, Jane Seymour, Nicola Pagett
Director: Jack Smight
Creators: Arthur Ibbetson, Richard Marden, Hunt Stromberg Jr., Ian Lewis, Christopher Isherwood, Don Bachardy, Mary Shelley
Genres: Horror, Science Fiction & Fantasy, Television, Sports
Sub-Genres: Horror, Science Fiction, Television, Hockey
Studio: Universal Studios
Format: DVD - Color,Full Screen - Subtitled
DVD Release Date: 09/26/2006
Original Release Date: 11/30/1973
Theatrical Release Date: 11/30/1973
Release Year: 2006
Run Time: 3hr 2min
Screens: Color,Full Screen
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 4
MPAA Rating: Unrated
Languages: English
Subtitles: English
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Member Movie Reviews

Jon P. from PORTLAND, ME
Reviewed on 12/3/2009...
I'm saving the second half until next Halloween, but it's great to have this ol' chestnut in my collection. I loved watching it as a kid (I think somewhere around New Year's Eve) when it was shown for a few years in a row. I don't know which character turned me on more, the doctor or the creature, but I'm amazed how well it holds up. It's not great storytelling though it managed to keep my interest, which is not a rave exactly, but I feel it is a worthy addition to the many Frankenstein incarnations. If you're a Mason fan, you'll need to wait until the second half, but it is not a performance that will "go down in the books." If you haven't seen Frankenstein 1970 for 30 years, check out the new Warner Brothers DVD release; pretty good Karloff performance from 1958.
1 of 2 member(s) found this review helpful.

Movie Reviews

Classic mini-series finally gets DVD release-revised with in
Wayne Klein | My Little Blue Window, USA | 08/14/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)

"While this isn't exactly how Mary Shelley envisioned FRANKENSTEIN and I wouldn't exactly call it "The True Story" (as opposed to, say, the lying, cheating version), this version adapted by Christopher Isherwood and Don Bachardy manages to touch on many of Shelley's themes while bringing some more contemporary ones into play as well. For it's time "Frankenstein: The True Story" brought wit, style and a visual flair missing from much of what was available on TV at the time.

The quality of the DVD isn't as good as it could be. The colors have faded and there's noticeable print damage throughout the presentation. I'm very very disappointed that Universal hasn't attempted to spruce this up more for its only probable incarnation on DVD. This is an excellent film with a terrific script that deserved the full restoration efforts of Universal. This was a top notch film that deserved to have all the respect of a theatrical film. Audio is OK but presented with such low levels you'll have to pump up the volume a bit for the film.

The original prologue featuring James Mason is included but not as an extra. Instead, it's presented at the beginning of the film just as it originally aired. On the one hand I like the fact that it is presented the way it originally appeared on the other I had forgotten how much of a spoiler this was showing scenes and presenting major plot points from the film. You may want to skip this chapter and go to the start of the film if you haven't seen the film in a while as it might spoil your enjoyment of the film.

As mentioned previously the film doesn't have any extras beyond the usual previews. A featurette on this pivotal and important film would have been appropriate. With the quality of actors in the film as well as the setting and budget spent on the project I would have hoped for some extras.

The supporting cast includes Baker, Sir Ralph Richardson, Sir John Gielgud, Agnes Moorehead, Margaret Leighton, Michael Wilding, Nicola Pagett and other top notch actors in supporting roles. The performances are dazzling throughout. Although it might not have the gore and rapid pace editing that contemporary audiences are used to it has a terrific and suspenseful story.

**Minor Spoilers Ahead**

Driven to search and question the limits of life and death by his younger brother's death, Victor Frankenstein makes a perfect pupil for fellow doctor Henry Clerval (David McCallum, "The Man from Uncle", "The Outer Limits"). Clerval and Frankenstein (Leonard Whitting from "Romeo and Juliet")collaborate on creating life from the dead. Victor is driven to science and the mystery of creating life by the death of his brother. When Clerval dies shortly before their experiment is complete Frankenstein continues on without him. Victor transplants Clerval's brain into the creature. Clerval discovered that his process was flawed but was unable to communicate this to Frankenstein before his death. Frankenstein succeeds beyond his wildest dreams creating a "human" creature (Michael Sarrazin)who is handsome, a brilliant mimic and extremely bright. Things go awry when the creature begins to disintegrate becoming a "monster" and treated with scorn by those around him. This makes the creature bitter and angry particularly at Victor who tries to destroy it.

Clerval's rival and former teacher Professor Polidori (James Mason)comes across the creature and approaches Frankenstein with a new proposal; Clerval's methods were flawed according to "Poly-Doly" (as Clerval called him)but Polidori can create life with a different techique and superior outcome for the "human" female Agatha(Jane Seymour)he plans on creating. The creature discovers Victor's plans and havoc results. To tell more would spoil much of the plot.

The screenplay by playwright Christopher Isherwood ("Berlin Stories" the basis for both "I Am A Camera" & "Cabaret" and "The Loved One")and Don Bachardy is marvelous taking some of the best elements of Shelley's story and giving the story a unique new twist as well. The TV film was nominated for a Nebula Award (writer's award from the Science Fiction Writers of America)and nominated for several Emmys. Directed by film & TV director Jack Smight ("The Twilight Zone", "The Alfred Hitchcock Hour" and the Paul Newman film "Harper")"FTTS" features strong performances from the veteran cast.

While I am disappointed at the quality of the presentation, I'm happy the film is finally available I just wish Universal had given this the budge necessary for restoring the film. Highly recommended for fans of classic horror films this classy production is still the best contemporary version of the story (although I did enjoy "Mary Shelley's Frankenstein" with Robert DeNiro and Kenneth Branagh)and well worth catching.

Excellent but rarely shown movie
TacoGuy | United States | 10/22/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)

"The Sci-Fi Channel broadcast this movie back in 1997, and out of curiosity I taped it, not expecting much. But I was pleasantly surprised. "Frankenstein: The True Story" is terrific entertainment. An incredible cast, a well-written script (closer to the novel than the Universal or Hammer versions), and beautiful cinematography.

For a while, "Frankenstein: The True Story" was available on VHS by Goodtimes Home Video. Yet almost half of it was cut out!! Ridiculous.

I haven't seen "Frankenstein: The True Story" on TV in seven years, even though I have satellite with hundreds of channels. None of my local video stores or libraries have a copy either. I once bought a copy of this movie from an obscure Internet company that sells out-of-print titles. They boasted that their copy of "Frankenstein: The True Story" was uncut, but it wasn't.

I would like to repeat what other reviewers have stated...this first rate movie needs to be released to DVD uncut...let me repeat: UNCUT. Hopefully with some commentary by the surviving actors like Leonard Whiting and Jane Seymour. has a feature that allows you to enter your email address to be notified when this film (and other unreleased titles) is released to DVD. Supposedly, Amazon will notify the studio who owns "Frankenstein: The True Story" about the interest. So I would urge fans to sign up.

Best version of the Frankenstein story ever made
John Cox | Studio City, CA | 12/02/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)

"I have to take serious exception to the Amazon Editorial review that this movie is "camp lunacy." I think this is a severe misreading of this movie. Saying this movie is "camp" is like saying Shelly's novel is "camp." That's just dead wrong. As with Shelly, this is a straight-faced GOTHIC horror tale which explores a multitude of themes including the nature of beauty, God, science, identity, etc. This is the most intelligent and layered Frankenstein movie ever made. Sure, it's highly stylized, dialogue is arch, and there are scenes so horrific and perversely odd as to be almost funny...but that's part of the Gothic form. Watch Young Frankenstein (1974) for a "camp" treatment of the Frankenstein story. Tonally, this movie is dead serious and pure Shelly.

Okay, having said that, how does this movie compare to the other treatments of the Frankenstein story? Even though I love the Universal/Karloff films, I actually believe this version is the best adaptation of Frankenstein ever filmed. Make no mistake, as with Karloff, this movie takes liberties with the original book. But it does so to better illustrate key themes. Having the monster start off as beautiful (he even thinks "Beautiful" is his name) and accepted by Dr. Frankenstein and society is a master stroke idea which evokes even greater empathy for the creature when he finds himself suddenly rejected as he starts to develop tissue degeneration (no more "beautiful"). Everyone loves a child, but then... I also love that in this version the Bride is given substantial screen time beyond her creation. Here Jane Seymour gives us a fascinating version of a "female monster" -- vain, attention starved, manipulative, sexually predatory (she's Paris Hilton!). And the meeting between monster and bride...probably one of the best (and, yes, Gothic) moments in all of horror history.

Also, the production values are so high it's hard to believe this was made for TV. But, remember, this was made in the era of TV movies like ROOTS, etc. So not only is this is an example of just how good a Frankenstein movie can be, it's also a shining example of just how excellent television can be.

(One quick tip on viewing -- skip the James Mason prologue at the start. It's cool to have this included, but the clips give away too much of the plot.)"