Welcome to another edition of THE QUOTABLE CUSHING, that column where we look at some of Peter Cushing’s best lines in the movies.
Today we look at one of my favorite movies for Peter Cushing quotes, THE EVIL OF FRANKENSTEIN (1964), Hammer Films’ third Frankenstein movie starring Peter Cushing as Baron Victor Frankenstein. THE EVIL OF FRANKENSTEIN is not my favorite Peter Cushing Frankenstein movie, but it does contain some of my favorite Peter Cushing Baron Frankenstein lines of dialogue.
THE EVIL OF FRANKENSTEIN is the most action-oriented of the Hammer Frankenstein movies. It’s also the film in which Peter Cushing portrays the Baron at his most heroic. It’s not a dark film by any means, and as such, I’ve always thought this one was poorly named. There’s just not a lot of evil going on. A more apt title would have been THE ADVENTURES OF FRANKENSTEIN. I know. That sounds like a comic book title, but in a way, that’s how this movie plays, like a comic book adventure.
Okay, it’s time for the quotes from THE EVIL OF FRANKENSTEIN, screenplay by Anthony Hinds.
Even though he plays Baron Frankenstein as a more heroic character this time around, Peter Cushing continues to portray him as a man driven by his unending quest to create life. His ambition and his frustration over his failures have never been stronger.
In this scene, he’s talking with his young assistant Hans (Sandor Eles). They have just discovered the body of Frankenstein’s Creature frozen in ice. They thaw him out and using the equipment in Frankenstein’s lab, bring him back to life. However, although the Creature (Kiwi Kingston) lives, it’s apparently stuck in a comatose state, due to brain damage caused by the police bullets which had killed it years before.
The Baron is furious.
BARON: Anything they don’t understand, anything that doesn’t conform to their stupid little patterns, they destroy! They have to destroy it! But they haven’t beaten me. I won’t let them beat me!
With that, the Baron is off and running. Cushing’s energy as Baron Frankenstein here is contagious. Every time I see this movie, I want to run to my work room and start hammering out a novel. Very inspirational.
VOICE OF REASON: But, Michael, doesn’t the Baron always fail? Don’t his experiments lead to the inevitable creation of a monster rather than a civilized man?
MICHAEL: Yes, but you’re nitpicking here. He still creates life, and he never gives up. If the brain is damaged, he performs surgery on it, again and again, and if that doesn’t work, he gets a new brain. You have to admire his tenacity. Likewise, I’ve got novels sitting around that I wrote more than a decade ago. I haven’t given up on them. They just need a little more surgery, that’s all. I won’t let them beat me! Eh hem.
Later, in the same scene, as the Baron and Hans brainstorm (heh heh) over what to do about the unresponsive Creature, young Hans makes a suggestion which the Baron isn’t too keen on.
HANS: Some kind of physical shock?
BARON FRANKENSTEIN (exasperated): I’ve just passed the full force of a bolt of lightning through its skull, Hans! Isn’t that shock enough?
To stimulate the Creature’s dormant brain, The Baron and Hans decide to involve a local hypnotist, the Great Zoltan (Peter Woodthorpe). The Baron visits Zoltan and asks for his help. He wants Zoltan to hypnotize his Creature, to stimulate his brain, but Zoltan refuses, not wanting to get involved with Frankenstein, who happens to be wanted by the police. Plus, since he’s been performing at the local carnival without a license, he’s been ordered to leave town. Frankenstein tells him he can make the trip to his chateau and still have plenty of time to leave town, if he fails. Zoltan is outraged at the suggestion of failure.
ZOLTAN: Fail? Me, fail? There isn’t a man born of woman I can’t put under!
BARON FRANKENSTEIN: Then this experiment should prove very interesting.
In one of the film’s more comedic moments, Baron Frankenstein confronts the Burgomaster (David Hutcheson) in his home, fuming that the official has taken his property after he had been thrown out of town a decade before.
BARON: I’ve come for my property, Burgomaster! My ring for instance! My chair, my desk, my carpet—.
At this moment, the Baron spies the Burgomaster’s buxom wife sitting in bed.
BARON: Even my bed!!!
When the woman begins to shriek hysterically, the Baron confronts her.
BARON: Be quiet woman!
He then slams the door on her.
The police arrive, but the Baron makes his escape, dashing into the bedroom and blocking the door. He then fashions a rope using the bedclothes, all the while the police are pounding at the door, and the woman watches from her bed.
Just before the Baron leaps from the balcony, using the bedclothes as a rope, he turns to the admiring woman, and says,
BARON: Good night.
There’s something almost James Bond-like in Cushing’s interpretation of Baron Frankenstein in this movie. The audience begins to expect the snappy one-liners and curious quips. Not for everyone’s tastes, especially those who prefer the darker Baron, but I’ve always enjoyed both this movie and Cushing’s performance in it.
Okay, that’s it for now. See you next time on THE QUOTABLE CUSHING, when I’ll present more quotes from another Peter Cushing movie.
Thanks for reading!