Mon­ster Hit Caused a Scan­dal in Kansas City

Variety - - Final Cut -

In the 1818 novel “Franken­stein,” Mary Shelley in­vented a crea­ture that was philo­soph­i­cal, ar­tic­u­late and venge­ful. But most peo­ple re­mem­ber the Hol­ly­wood ver­sion: lum­ber­ing and with bolts in his neck, mem­o­rable thanks to Boris Karloff and the makeup de­signed by Jack P. Pierce. Nov. 21 marks the an­niver­sary of the film’s 1931 de­but. On Nov. 10, 1931, Va­ri­ety wrote that the stu­dio added a pro­logue two days be­fore prints shipped, in which au­di­ences were warned what to ex­pect. Uni­ver­sal and direc­tor James Whale reshot the end­ing af­ter pre­views: “New scenes keep the doc­tor, who treats the mon­ster, alive in­stead of burn­ing him to death with his ro­bot.”

Kansas City still wasn’t pleased. In those days, lo­cal com­mu­ni­ties could cen­sor films, and K.C. de­manded 34 cuts in­clud­ing the cli­max, be­cause the movie “shows cru­elty and tends to de­base morals.” De­spite that (or be­cause of it), the film was an enor­mous hit. • Visit Va­ri­etyul­ti­mate.com for ev­ery is­sue of Va­ri­ety since 1906.

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