Friday, September 7, 2007

The Art of Boris Karloff

Actor. Born William Henry Pratt in Victorian England, Boris Karloff was a truly gentle person who nevertheless left us a memorable legacy of screen horrors. After more than 70 unremarkable films, he was tapped to play the "monster" in "Frankenstein" in 1931, and made the character his imperishable own. In 1932 he was "The Mummy;" in 1935, he returned to his earlier role in "The Bride of Frankenstein," possibly a greater movie than the original. He went on to roles in innumerable films, plays and television programs; capped, perhaps, by his narration of "How The Grinch Stole Christmas" in 1966. He was well loved not just by his fans, but by all of Hollywood, for his greatest character - his own.

Boris Karloff's most famous role as the monster in Frankenstein (US, d. James Whale, 1931) made him a legend but it did little - or perhaps too much - for his career; he is far more memorable as Ned in The Criminal Code (d. Howard Hawks) earlier the same year.

The actor (born William Henry Pratt in London) began his screen career in the US in 1916 with The Dumb Girl of Portici (d. Lois Weber) and, in all, made 164 feature films, mostly American. The British-made The Ghoul (d. T. Hayes Hunter, 1933) was no doubt influenced by his US success in the horror genre, as were some later UK appearances.

1 comment:

Daniel said...

Boris Karloff will always be remembered for portraying The Frankenstein Monster, as well he should be. It is one of the most masterful preformances ever to grace the screen. Not being able to use his wonderful voice and buried behind some incredible make-up by the talented Jack Pierce, Boris was still able to convey a range of emotions that would have challenged even the greatest of actors. From childlike wonder to murderous hatred, Boris had us rooting for the monster (when we weren't cowering behind our parents in fright).

What I really like about the first two paintings in this section is the attention to detail which you put into them, from every singular white/grey strand of Boris' wild hair in the first painting to the veins and scars in the Frankenstein monster's arms and hands is a thing of beauty!!