Gods And Monsters. 1998
Just finished watching “Gods and Monsters” Bill Condon’s elegant and very moving mixture of fact and fiction dealing with the last days of the important filmmaker James Whale. I haven’t seen it in some time but was drawn to it again mainly because there was some controversy on a facebook post about it being demeaning and hurtful to gay people, and that the film was full of lies. Well this is of course total rubbish. At no point was I offended by the “gayness” of the story or put off because of the mixing of fact and fiction in telling this tale of Whale. The film directed and written by Condon is based on the novel Father Of Frankenstein by Christopher Bram. It was not based on a biography or a academic study of the director, and no one connected with the film ever said it was. Whale who is most known for his four “horror” films Frankenstein, The Bride Of Frankenstein, The Invisible Man and The Old Dark House, was gay, and was quite open about it, and lived for years with the producer David Lewis, a brave and not easy thing to do in 1930’s homophobic Hollywood. The movie covers a few days in the last year of Whale’s life and introduces several characters that did not really exist, the most important one being Clayton Boone played with delicious beauty and vulnerability by Brendan Fraser who plays Whale’s gardener. Whale is played to perfection by Ian McKellen in his Oscar nominated performance but who lost the award to the ludicrous performance of Roberto Benigni in the dreadful and offensive Life Is Beautiful. Also wonderful is Lynn Redgrave as his dedicated but judgmental Hungarian Housekeeper Hanna. The film is dark and sad, but has moments of outrageous humor (the garden party for Princess Margaret that George Cukor throws is especially amusing), and for a low budget film looks and feels expensive. Oscar winner for Best Screenplay Based on Material Previously Produced or Published.