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Frankenstein was the perfect breakout film for Hammer Film Productions. After the success of Universal’s take on the mad scientist and his monster, Hammer had their work cut out for them. But much like their title character, Hammer took parts from Mary Shelly’s novel and parts from their own imagination and created a truly memorable monster.
1. The title comes from a cut plot point.
The true villain in the film isn’t the Creature, but rather Dr. Frankenstein. “Let’s face it. The monster couldn’t help doing monstrous things,” said screenwriter Jimmy Sangster.
But an earlier draft of the script indicated that Dr. Frankenstein’s father was not only a mad scientist but that he was the first to create a monster, leaving notes behind which his son then used. Thus, the “curse” visited the next generation.
2. Pass-the-marmalade moments.
Immediately following one of the creature's attacks in the movie, the scene shifts to Frankenstein eating breakfast where he asks for the marmalade. The line had an important function too. Sangster said, “The line was put there for a good reason. I’m a great believer in giving an audience breathing space… And the best way to do that is to make them laugh.” Subsequent scripts borrowed this mentality with their own pass-the-marmalade moments.
3. Danger on the set.
In the film, a character falls from the second floor to his death. When the stuntman performed the sequence, he missed the safety padding on the floor and hit his head. Thankfully, he wasn't severly injured. A fire scene was also dangerous, and multiple crew members stood guard with extinguishes just in case.
4. No puppies were hurt in the making of this film.
Before creating the monster, Frankenstein brought a puppy back to life. Robert Urquhart, who played Frankenstein’s tutor and friend, adopted the dog in real life and named him Frankie. Urquhart said, “I had him for the rest of its life. We have, I think, had three or four generations from Frankie.”
5. The film changed Peter Cushing’s career.
Peter Cushing was no stranger to acting prior to his turn as Dr. Frankenstein and appeared on the stage and on television. However, it was this Hammer production which served as the actor’s big break. Cushing continued to play Dr. Frankenstein in five more sequels, and also appeared in other Hammer productions, including their Dracula series.