THE QUOTABLE CUSHING: THE CURSE OF FRANKENSTEIN (1957)
Welcome to another edition of THE QUOTABLE CUSHING, that column where we celebrate Peter Cushing’s best lines in the movies. I kicked off this column in March 2013 with quotes from Cushing’s first horror movie, THE CURSE OF FRANKENSTEIN (1957). This movie is so jam-packed with classic lines that I just had to revisit it to look at some more of them.
So, here we go. Today on THE QUOTABLE CUSHING, it’s THE CURSE OF FRANKENSTEIN Round 2, where we look at more classic lines from this classic movie, its screenplay written by Jimmy Sangster.
One of my favorite scenes is when Victor Frankenstein (Peter Cushing) invites his mentor and former tutor Paul Krempe (Robert Urquhart) into his laboratory to show him the progress he has made on the unborn Creature. When he shows Paul the Creature’s face, Paul turns away in disgust.
VICTOR: Well, what do you think of it?
PAUL: It’s horrible!
VICTOR: Paul, the features are not important. What matters is I am creating a being that will live and breathe. Once the scars on the face heal it won’t look so bad.
PAUL: Victor, I appeal to you. Stop what you’re doing before it’s too late.
VICTOR: But what am I doing? I’m harming nobody. Just robbing a few graves. And what doctor or scientist doesn’t? How else are we to learn the complexities of the human animal?
PAUL: Doctors rob for the eventual good of mankind. This can— this can never end in anything but evil.
VICTOR: Now, why do you say that? Look, I admit. He isn’t a particularly good looking specimen at present but don’t forget: one’s facial character is built up on what lies behind it— in the brain. A benevolent mind and the face assumes the pattern of benevolence. An evil mind, and an evil face. For this the brain of a genius will be used. And when that brain starts to function within the frame the facial features will assume wisdom and understanding.
I told you I was at the last stage but one. The brain. A brain of superior intellect, a lifetime of knowledge already behind it. Imagine that, Paul. My creature will be born with a lifetime of knowledge.
PAUL: Victor, where will this brain come from?
VICTOR: I’ll get it.
This has always been one of my favorite scenes in THE CURSE OF FRANKENSTEIN. I would also argue that it’s one of Peter Cushing’s best acting moments in the movies.
Later, when Victor realizes that he needs Paul’s help for his experiment to be successful, he pleads with his former tutor:
VICTOR: I want you to help me.
PAUL: You must be mad.
VICTOR: That apparatus was constructed for dual operation, you know that. I thought I could work it myself but I can’t.
PAUL: I’m delighted. That means your experiment will not succeed.
VICTOR: You’re going to help me Paul. Whatever you say.
And a bit later—
VICTOR: If you help me Paul, I promise that once I prove my theories, I’ll dispose of this Creature.
PAUL: How long will that take?
VICTOR: A month, two at the outside.
PAUL: And have that thing alive up there all the time, no, Victor!
VICTOR: If you don’t help me Paul, then I make no such promise. Somehow I’ll manage on my own. However difficult, I’ll do it. And when I’ve succeeded, I’ll introduce Elizabeth to the world of science and see how she likes it.
PAUL: You wouldn’t dare!
VICTOR: There is nothing, do you hear me? Nothing more important to me than the success of this experiment. It’s what I worked for all my life!
PAUL: All right, Victor, I’ll help you.
Over dinner with his fiancé Elizabeth (Hazel Court) Victor gets to unleash these zingers:
ELIZABETH: Victor, I wonder about Justine. You know, it’s a week since she went away and we still have no word from her.
Of course, Justine is missing because she’s dead, murdered by the Creature, after Victor locked her in the same room with his murderous creation on purpose. The reason? They’d been having an affair, she got pregnant, and she threatened to go to the authorities and tell them what Victor was up to in his laboratory if she didn’t marry him.
Victor’s response here to his fiancé Elizabeth at the dinner table?
VICTOR: I told you not to worry. I expect some village lothario eloped with her. She always was a romantic little thing.
A few minutes later, Elizabeth tells Victor that she invited Paul to the wedding. This was a big no-no, because Paul and Victor had had a huge falling out, because Paul had shot the Creature dead. Paul had moved out thinking with the Creature dead, Elizabeth was now safe. But Victor had brought the Creature back to life, and it was once again living upstairs in his laboratory.
ELIZABETH: He hasn’t accepted yet so maybe he won’t come.
After a long pause, Victor finally says:
VICTOR: I hope he does come. There’s something I’d like him to see.
Earlier in the movie, after Paul had shot the Creature dead, Victor returns to his lab. He and Paul had buried the Creature in the woods, but now the lifeless body of the Creature hangs from a hook in the lab above Victor’s head.
Victor looks at the body long and hard and finally says coldly:
VICTOR: I’ll give you life again.
Great lines, great moments, great movie! THE CURSE OF FRANKENSTEIN is one of my all-time favorite horror movies, and contains one of the best performances by Peter Cushing in his first ever portrayal of Baron Victor Frankenstein. Be sure to check this movie out.
I hope you enjoyed today’s column and will join me next time on THE QUOTABLE CUSHING when we’ll look at other fine quotes from another classic Peter Cushing movie.
Thanks for reading!