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Dir. Jack Smight
In the wake of this month's latest television epic claiming to be the 'ultimate' Frankenstein, I would just like to take this opportunity to remind viewers that there can only be ONE 'ultimate' Frankenstein, and it is this one - Frankenstein: The True Story.
Made for American television in 1973 and subsequently released theatrically in Europe in a shorter version with snippets of extra gore not deemed appropriate for TV, Jack (The Illustrated Man, Damnation Alley) Smight's lovingly-executed take on Mary Wollstonecraft-Shelley's 1818 classic is unparalleled in either its grandeur or its moving performances.
Christopher Isherwood's brilliant script also explores what many other versions only gloss over - the intimate relationship between Frankenstein and his monster. I wouldn't go so far as to call this "Frankenstein: The Gay Story" (okay, I guess I just did), but there are certainly noticeable homoerotic undertones at work here, and it's an undisputed fact that gay men love this version more than any other (a gross generalization based on the two gay men I asked).
With the FX crew from 2001: A Space Odyssey, production designer Wilfred Shingleton (the Innocents, Polanski's MacBeth) and a cast to die for -- including Leonard Whiting (Romeo and Juliet), Michael Sarrazin (They Shoot Horses, Don't They?), Jane Seymour, James Mason, David McCallum (Watcher in the Woods), Tom Baker (Dr. Who!) and Sir Ralph Richardson -- producer Hunt Stromberg, Jr. swore he would "settle for nothing but the absolute best!", and I believe he succeeded.
NOTE: The version you are about to see is unique in the world and had only ever been screened once before. It is the COMPLETE version of the film, with everything from both the US and European versions. While many sources FALSELY list a 240min. running time, that includes 46 minutes of commercials.