Frankenstein (Universal, 1931). CGC Graded Lobby Card (11" X 14").. ...
After the success of Dracula in February 1931, Carl Laemmle was convinced that the horror genre would not only succeed, but also bring fame and fortune to his studio. He wanted to capitalize on that success and so announced to the world that Bela Lugosi, the star of Dracula and the worthy successor to Lon Chaney, would play the monster of Mary Shelley's classic tale. Trade ads were printed to this effect, but before the film could go into production, Lugosi backed out of the role-- stating he would not appear as the Monster, heavily made up so that his face didn't show and without any lines in the film. And so the search was on for a replacement. The director, James Whale, spotted Boris Karloff at the studio and immediately put his name in as a replacement for Lugosi. The actor's tall and gaunt appearance was exactly what Whale envisioned for the legendary monster and it fell upon makeup artist Jack Pierce to create the monster's makeup. That "look" underwent a few tests and revisions before filming started, but the image used on this lobby card is from the test shot just before the final revisions were made. The only difference between the final look and the image on this card are the prominent bolts on the forehead. The film was released on November 21, 1931 and it became an incredible sensation. The moment when Karloff backs into the darkened room and slowly turns to the screen to reveal his face, became one of those cinematic moments that rivaled the sheer horror of Lon Chaney's unmasking by Mary Philbin in The Phantom of the Opera. This lobby card, with it's portrait of Karloff as the monster, is almost identical to that moment and it's a near miracle that the studio had the foresight to use the image on this prestigious card. The card is known amongst collectors as the "montage card" for the obvious reasons. Universal would frequently make at least one montage lobby card per set during the 1930s. The image on the left features the leads John Boles and Mae Clarke. The image on the right is almost as important as the portrait of Karloff. It features Colin Clive as Dr. Henry Frankenstein declaring to his mentor Dr. Waldman (Edward Van Sloan), that with these hands, only he can create life. Without a doubt, and other than the title cards to the classic horror films, this is the most important horror lobby card ever created. It certainly rivals Lugosi as Dracula preparing to bite Helen Chandler's neck on the portrait card from Dracula. Heritage sold a VF/NM 9.0 copy of that lobby for $44,812. It could be a "companion" piece to that card but certainly carries more importance by showcasing the first reveal of the monster in the film. This card has very light toning on the edge, a slight stress line in the lower right corner and some writing on the verso in blue ink. These minimal issues keep it from grading even higher. However, this may be the best example of this elusive card in existence. CGC Graded 9.2 Near Mint-.
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