The most elaborate--and longest--of Universal's Frankenstein series, Son of Frankenstein represents Boris Karloff's last appearance in the role of the Monster. The title character is played by Basil Rathbone, who with wife Josephine… More The most elaborate--and longest--of Universal's Frankenstein series, Son of Frankenstein represents Boris Karloff's last appearance in the role of the Monster. The title character is played by Basil Rathbone, who with wife Josephine Hutchinson and son Donnie Donegan returns to the Old Country to take over his late father's estate. Rathbone receives a cool reception from the local villagers, who remember all too well the havoc wreaked by his father's monstrous creation. Though he assures his neighbors that he has no intention of following in his father's footsteps, Rathbone is hounded by suspicious town constable Lionel Atwill, whose stiff artificial arm is an unfortunate legacy of an earlier confrontation with Karloff. Also hanging around Frankenstein Castle is crazed shepherd Bela Lugosi), whose neck was broken in an unsuccessful hanging attempt. Lugosi wishes to exact revenge on the city fathers who'd tried to execute him, and to that end persuades Rathbone to revive the hideous Karloff. At first resistant, Rathbone becomes as obsessed as his father with the notion of creating artificial life. Now the fun begins, directed with Germanic intensity by Rowland V. Lee. Though Mel Brooks's Young Frankenstein has rendered Son of Frankenstein virtually impossible to take seriously, the film remains an excellent marriage of the slick, sanitized production values of the "New Universal" and the Gothic zeitgeist of the earlier Frankenstein epics. Best line: Lugosi, looking over the dormant body of The Monster, explains raspily that "He does...things...for me." Hans J. Salter's intense musical score for Son of Frankenstein would continue to resurface in Universal's Mummy B pictures of the 1940s. Watch for Ward Bond in a bit part as a police officer...and see if you can spot Dwight Frye, whose supporting part was excised from the final release print, among the villagers.
Consensus: Boris Karloff's final appearance as the Monster is a fitting farewell before the series descended into self-parody.