James Whale, Director

The Bride of Frankenstein (USA; 1935)

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James Whale’s greatest successes came as a horror film director for Universal Studios.  During his brief career, he directed such classics as Frankenstein (1931), The Invisible Man (1933), and The Bride of Frankenstein (1935), injecting them with unusual sensitivity toward the monsters, as well as with humor.  As the 1930s wore on, however, Whale’s career took a downturn.  This change may reflect the weakening popularity of the horror genre, but it also may be because of Whale’s iconoclastic attitudes and his openness regarding his homosexuality, which made many Hollywood studio heads uncomfortable.  In 1957, after splitting with his longtime companion David Lewis and suffering from a series of strokes, Whale took his own life by drowning himself in his pool.  Director Bill Condon immortalized Whale in his film Gods and Monsters (1998), starring openly gay actor Ian McKellen.

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