"Frankenstein" breathes new life, at 100

Sun Mar 14, 2010 10:13pm EDT
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By Martin A. Grove

LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - Thursday marks the 100th anniversary of the American movie industry's first attempt to bring "Frankenstein" to the big screen with a long-forgotten film made by Thomas Edison's studio.

The centennial comes on the heels of recent news about a production based on Dean Koontz's "Frankenstein" books, as well as the publication of Frederick C. Wiebel, Jr.'s book "Edison's Frankenstein."

While visiting his in-laws in Minneapolis 20 years ago, Wiebel happened to see a clip from the long-lost film on TV.

"I was astounded that any of it existed," he said. "It had been 30 or 40 years since I'd first heard of the movie."

Intending to write a magazine article about it, Wiebel began researching the film.

"I just kept getting more and more information until at some point it was too long for an article and too short for a book."

Ultimately, he found enough material to write a book about filming "Frankenstein" as well as about how movies were made in the early 1900s. He also discovered the film's one surviving print and arranged for its restoration and release on DVD.

When Edison shot his one-reel version of "Frankenstein" in January 1910, Mary Shelley's novel was already 92 years' old. It had been produced on stage for years and was already part of the culture through references like "creating a Frankenstein."   Continued...