Narrator: How do you do? Mr. Carl Laemmle feels it would be a little unkind to present this picture without just a word of friendly warning. We're about to unfold the story of Frankenstein, a man of science who sought to create a man after his own image without reckoning upon God.
It is one of the strangest tales ever told. It deals with the two great mysteries of creation: life and death. I think it will thrill you. It may shock you. It might even horrify you. So if any of you feel that you do not care to subject your nerves to such a strain, now is your chance to, uh... Well, we've warned you.
Heinrich "Henry" Frankenstein, an ardent young scientist, and his devoted assistant Fritz, a hunchback, piece together a human body, the parts of which have been secretly collected from various sources.
Henry: Down! Down, you fool!
Henry: Now! Come on! Hurry, hurry.
Henry: The moon's rising. We've no time to lose. Careful!
Fritz: Here he comes!
Henry: He's just resting. Waiting for a new life to come.
Fritz: Here we are. Look, it's still here.
Henry: Climb up and cut the rope.
Henry: Go on. It can't hurt you. Here's a knife.
Fritz: Look out! . . . Here I come. . . .Is it all right?
Henry: The neck's broken. The brain is useless. We must find another brain.
Frankenstein's consuming desire is to create human life through various electrical devices which he has perfected.
Waldman: That'll do, gentlemen. And in conclusion, ladies and gentlemen, here we have one of the most
perfect specimens of the human brain ever to come to my attention at the university.
Waldman: And here, the abnormal brain of the typical criminal. Observe, ladies and gentlemen, the scarcity of convolutions on the frontal lobe as compared to that of the normal brain, and the distinct degeneration of the middle frontal lobe.
Waldman: All of these degenerate characteristics check amazingly with the history of the dead man before us, whose life was one of brutality, of violence and murder.
As Waldman talks, Fritz is peering through the window.
Waldman: These jars will remain here for your further inspection. Thank you, gentlemen. The class is dismissed.
Through the incompetence of Fritz, a criminal brain was secured for Frankenstein's experiments instead of the desired normal one.
Elizabeth, Henry's fiancée, is worried about his peculiar actions. She hasn't heard from him in four months until a newly arrived letter she mentions to her friend, Victor Moritz . . .
Elizabeth: I'm afraid. I've read this over and over again, but they're just words that I can't understand. Listen. . .
"You must have faith in me, Elizabeth. Wait. My work must come first, even before you. At night, the winds howl in the mountains. There is no one here. Prying eyes can't peer into my secret. I am living in an abandoned watchtower close to the town of Goldstadt. Only my assistant is here to help me with my experiments."
Yes, that's what frightens me. The day we announced our engagement, he told me of his experiments. He said he was close to a discovery so terrific that he doubted his own sanity. There was a strange look in his eyes. Some mystery. His words carried me right away. Of course, I've never doubted him.
But still, I worry. I can't help it. And now this letter. All this uncertainty can't go on. I must know. About three weeks ago, I met him walking alone in the woods. He spoke to me of his work, too. I asked him if I might visit his laboratory. He just glared at me and said he would let no one go there. His manner was very strange. If he should be ill!
She and Victor go to Dr. Waldman, his old medical professor, and ask Dr. Waldman's help in reclaiming the young scientist from his absorbing experiments.
Waldman: Herr Frankenstein is a most brilliant young man, yet so erratic. He was doing so well
and he seemed so happy with his work. You know, his researches in the field of chemical galvanism and electrobiology were far in advance of our theories here at the university.
In fact, they had reached a most advanced stage. They were becoming dangerous. Herr Frankenstein is greatly changed. His insane ambition to create life. The bodies we use now, dissecting them for lecture purposes, were not perfect enough for his experiments, he said.
He wished us to supply him with other bodies, and we were not to be too particular as to where and how we got them. I told him that his demands were unreasonable, and so he left the university to work unhampered. Herr Frankenstein was interested only in human life. First to destroy it, then re-create it. There you have his mad dream.
After some hesitation, Waldman agrees to go with them to see Henry.
Henry: Fritz! Have you finished those connections?
Fritz: Yes, they're done.
Henry: Well, come down, then, and help. We've lots to do. If this storm develops as I hope, you will have plenty to be afraid of before the night's over. Go on, fix the electrodes. This storm will be magnificent. All the electrical secrets of heaven. And this time we're ready.
Henry: There's nothing to fear. Look. No blood, no decay. Just a few stitches. And look. Here's the final touch. The brain you stole, Fritz. Think of it - the brain of a dead man waiting to live again in a body I made with my own hands. With my own hands. Let's have one final test. Throw the switches. In 15 minutes, the storm should be at its height. Then we'll be ready.
Elizabeth, intent on rescuing Frankenstein, arrives just as Henry is making his final tests.
Fritz: There's someone there.
Henry: Shh! Quiet. Send them away! Nobody must come here. Whoever it is, don't let them in.
Fritz: Leave them to me. Of all the times for anybody to come! Now! I'll show them, messing about at this time of night. Got too much to do. Wait a minute! All right, all right! Wait a minute, I'm coming. . . . You can't see him. Go away.
Henry: Who is it? What do you want? You must leave me alone now.
They beg Henry to give them shelter. They are finally allowed in.
Henry: Elizabeth, please, won't you go away? Won't you trust me just for tonight? Can't you see I mustn't be disturbed? You'll ruin everything. My experiment is almost completed. You've got to leave!
Victor: Henry, you're inhuman. You're crazy!
Henry: Crazy, am I? We'll see whether I'm crazy or not. Come on up. You're quite sure you want to come in? Very well. . . . A moment ago, you said I was crazy. Tomorrow, we'll see about that. Doctor Waldman, I learnt a great deal from you at the university about the violet ray, the ultraviolet ray, which you said was the highest color in the spectrum. You were wrong. Here, in this machinery, I have gone beyond that.
Henry: I have discovered the great ray that first brought life into the world. Tonight you shall have your proof. At first I experimented only with dead animals, and then a human heart, which I kept beating for three weeks. But now I'm going to turn that ray on that body, and endow it with life. That body is not dead. It has never lived. I created it. I made it with my own hands from the bodies I took from graves, from the gallows, anywhere.
He tells them to watch . . .
Henry: Dead, hey? Quite a good scene, isn't it? One man crazy, three very sane spectators!