Frankenstein 1910

Credited as the first film version of Mary Shelley’s classic horror novel, Frankenstein (1910) was written and directed by J. Searle Dawley for the Edison Manufacturing Company. For a long time it was considered lost, represented only by a few images of the Creature, especially this one:


However, an original nitrate print of Dawley’s Frankenstein finally turned up in Wisconsin in the mid-1970s (IMDb) in the possession of a private collector named Alois F. Dettlaff.

Dettlaff was a strange man and kept a tight grip on his find. As a result, it was rarely seen in his lifetime and probably suffered deterioration that an expert restorer could have prevented (Silent Volume).

The film’s IMDb entry contains this interesting observation:

This is one of the only Frankenstein films where the monster is truly created. All Frankenstein films that followed assembled body parts from various corpses to make the monster. In this film, Frankenstein uses chemicals and “potions” to create the monster. The “creation” scene was made by filming a monster-dummy burning, and then playing the footage backwards.

Frankenstein (1910) starred Augustus Phillips as Frankenstein, Charles Ogle as the Monster, and Mary Fuller as the doctor’s fiancée. It is available for download here (being in the public domain), but fortunately it has also been placed on YouTube:

Next year is the 100th anniversary of this first cinematic version of the iconic novel — to be precise, on 18 March 1910. Remarkable achievement, especially as it was filmed in three days.

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