IN THE SHADOWS: FRANCIS MATTHEWS

0

 

francis matthews

Welcome back to IN THE SHADOWS, that column where we look at character actors in the movies.

Today our focus is on Francis Matthews. If you’re a Hammer Film fan, you’re familiar with Matthews’ work, because of two key performances in THE REVENGE OF FRANKENSTEIN (1958) and DRACULA: PRINCE OF DARKNESS (1966).

With his distinctive voice, which sounds an awful lot like Cary Grant’s, Matthews made a lasting impression in these Hammer sequels.

Here’s a very brief look at the career of Francis Matthews, focusing mainly on his genre credits:

BHOWANI JUNCTION (1956) – Ranjit Kasel- Matthews’ first big screen credit is in this drama about English/Indian relations directed by George Cukor.  Stars Ava Gardner and Stewart Granger.

francis matthews peter cushing revenge of frankenstein

Francis Matthews and Peter Cushing in THE REVENGE OF FRANKENSTEIN (1958).

THE REVENGE OF FRANKENSTEIN (1958) – Doctor Hans Kleve-  Francis Matthews is memorable here as the new young assistant to Peter Cushing’s Baron Frankenstein, or as he is known in this movie since he’s supposed to be dead and is hiding from the authorities, Dr. Stein. Matthews and Cushing share a nice camaraderie in their scenes together, and it’s too bad the series didn’t continue with these two actors. The character of Hans is notable here because at the end of the movie he successfully transplants Dr. Stein’s brain into another body.

CORRIDORS OF BLOOD (1958) – Jonathan Bolton – co-stars with both Boris Karloff and Christopher Lee in this standard shocker featuring Karloff playing a doctor who becomes addicted to the powerful anesthesia he has created and as a result becomes involved in murder. Christopher Lee plays a grave robber named Resurrection Joe, and his supporting performance steals the show. The best part is Karloff and Lee’s climactic battle, pitting one “Frankenstein monster” vs. the other. Neat stuff! Matthews plays it straight as Karloff’s son and protegé.

francis matthews christopher lee dracula prince of darkness

Francis Matthews and Christopher Lee in DRACULA: PRINCE OF DARKNESS (1966).

DRACULA: PRINCE OF DARKNESS (1966) – Charles Kent – By far, my favorite Francis Matthews’ role. He plays Charles Kent, one of the four guests who find themselves spending the night in Dracula’s castle, and it’s Charles’ brother Alan (Charles Tingwell) who’s murdered by Dracula’s disciple Klove (Philip Latham) who then uses Alan’s blood to resurrect Dracula (Christopher Lee) in one of Hammer’s bloodiest and most gruesome scenes.

Charles then teams up with Father Sandor (Andrew Keir) to hunt down Dracula, but the vampire king complicates things by going after Charles’ wife Diana (Suzan Farmer) first.

This sequel to HORROR OF DRACULA (1958), arguably Hammer’s best shocker, is itself a really good movie, and its reputation has only gotten better over the years. Francis Matthews makes for a strong leading man, until that is, he has to face Dracula, which is as it should be. The later Hammer Draculas would stumble by having every random young hero best the vampire king when in all seriousness, that should have been something only the Van Helsings of the world could do.

Also, if you own the Blu-ray version of DRACULA: PRINCE OF DARKNESS, it includes a rare and very informative commentary by Christopher Lee, Barbara Shelley, Suzan Farmer, and Francis Matthews. All four actors sat down together for a screening of the film, and for most of them it was the first time they had watched the movie in years. All four actors add really neat insights. For instance, during the film’s pre-credit sequence, which begins with the ending of HORROR OF DRACULA, Lee was quick to point out that the ending they were watching was cut from the original version, and this commentary was recorded long before the recent restored version by Hammer.

The Blu-ray also contains rare behind-the-scenes footage on the set of DRACULA: PRINCE OF DARKNESS secretly filmed by Francis Matthews’ brother using an 8mm camera.

Sadly, of these four actors, only Barbara Shelley remains with us, as Lee, Matthews, and Suzan Farmer have all since passed away (Farmer in 2017).

RASPUTIN: THE MAD MONK (1966) – Ivan – shot nearly simultaneously as DRACULA: PRINCE OF DARKNESS, the film uses the same sets and much of the same cast, including Christopher Lee, Francis Matthews, Barbara Shelley, and Suzan Farmer.

THE SAINT (1964-1967) – Andre/Paul Farley – “To Kill A Saint”/”The Noble Sportsman” – appeared in two episodes of the popular Roger Moore spy show.

THE AVENGERS (1966-1967) – Chivers/Collins – “Mission – Highly Improbable”/”The Thirteenth Hole”- appeared in two episodes of THE AVENGERS TV show.

RUN FOR YOUR WIFE (2012) – Francis Matthews’ final screen credit is in this British comedy.

Francis Matthews has 106 screen credits, and I’ll always remember him for his two noteworthy performances in two of Hammer’s better sequels, THE REVENGE OF FRANKENSTEIN (1958) and DRACULA: PRINCE OF DARKNESS (1966).

Matthews was born on September 2, 1927. He died on June 14, 2014 at the age of 86.

Well, that’s all we have time for today. I hope you enjoyed reading about Francis Matthews, and please join me again next time on the next IN THE SHADOWS when we’ll look at the career at another great character actor in the movies, especially horror movies.

Thanks for reading!

—Michael

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

THE QUOTABLE CUSHING: THE REVENGE OF FRANKENSTEIN (1958)

0
"I wonder if I can trust you?" Dr. Stein (Peter Cushing) asks young doctor Hans Kleve (Francis Matthews) in this atmospheric scene from THE REVENGE OF FRANKENSTEIN  (1958) .

“I wonder if I can trust you?” Dr. Stein (Peter Cushing) asks young doctor Hans Kleve (Francis Matthews) in this atmospheric scene from THE REVENGE OF FRANKENSTEIN (1958) .

THE QUOTABLE CUSHING:  THE REVENGE OF FRANKENSTEIN (1958)

By

Michael Arruda

Welcome to the latest edition of THE QUOTABLE CUSHING, that column where we celebrate classic lines of dialogue from Peter Cushing movies.  Why?  Because I’ve been a fan of Peter Cushing my whole life, and it’s his performances in the movies which inspired me to become a horror writer.

Today we look at dialogue from the second Hammer Frankenstein movie, THE REVENGE OF FRANKENSTEIN (1958), a direct sequel to their mega-hit THE CURSE OF FRANKENSTEIN (1957).  It’s Peter Cushing’s second time playing Baron Frankenstein in the movies, and he would go on to play the Baron four more times.

THE REVENGE OF FRANKENSTEIN usually gets a bad rap among fans, and some even consider it the weakest of the series, but I’ve always liked this one.  The biggest problem it has— especially following the shock-filled THE CURSE OF FRANKENSTEIN— is that it’s simply not all that scary.  But it does tell a memorable story, one of the more intelligent and thought-provoking of the entire series.

Peter Cushing is once again superb as Baron Frankenstein in his second stint playing the role.  This time he’s using an alias, Dr. Stein, and he makes the doctor a more likable character this time around, downplaying Frankenstein’s villainous side.

THE REVENGE OF FRANKENSTEIN might be the most subtle film of the entire series, as there are lots of neat little nuances that lift this sequel to classic status.  Here’s a look at some memorable Peter Cushing quotes from THE REVENGE OF FRANKENSTEIN (1958), screenplay by Jimmy Sangster with additional dialogue by Hurford Janes.

Some of the best dialogue in the movie is the conversations between Dr. Stein (Peter Cushing) and his new young assistant, Dr. Hans Kleve (Francis Matthews).  In this scene, the first time these two characters meet, Hans has snuck into Dr. Stein’s home and interrupted his dinner, with the bold assertion that he knows Stein’s true identity:  Baron Frankenstein.  This scene contains a neat bit where Peter Cushing uses a cloth to wipe a carving knife while speaking to Hans, and the young doctor can’t take his eyes off the sharp instrument while Dr. Stein questions his loyalty.

Let’s listen:

HANS:  I’m the first, I suppose, to recognize you.

STEIN: For what I am, or for what you would have me be?

HANS:  No, the resemblance is too striking.  That, and your present activities lead to only one conclusion.

STEIN: So, and what if I am this Baron Frankenstein?

HANS:  Are you?

STEIN: Just now you were telling me, now you’re asking. Dr. Kleve, why are you so interested in this gentleman?

HANS:  I’m in search of knowledge.

STEIN: Oh, knowledge! Oh, so that’s it!  My name is Frankenstein, I’ll admit.

HANS:  Ah!

STEIN: But it’s a large family, you know. Remarkable since the Middle Ages for its productivity.  There are offshoots everywhere, even in America, I’m told.  There’s a town called Frankenstein in Germany.

HANS:  Are you the Baron Frankenstein?

STEIN: Then there are the Frankensteins emanating from the town of that name in Silesia.

HANS:  Are you Baron Frankenstein?

STEIN: Yes, Dr. Kleve.

HANS:  I was sure of it.  I told you that I’m in search of knowledge.  I want to learn more than any university can ever teach me.  I want to be the pupil of the greatest doctor, the finest medical brain in the world, your pupil, Baron Frankenstein.

STEIN: Highly commendable. And if I refuse?

HANS:  You won’t.

STEIN: So, either I employ you in my researches, or— surely this is blackmail? An ugly trait in a doctor.

HANS:  I see it is an agreement of shall we say mutual reciprocation?  Your knowledge in return for my assistance.

STEIN: And your silence? (gets up from his seat)  I’m not an easy man to work for.

HANS:  Few men are.

STEIN: And when you’ve learned all you want to know, you might change your mind about keeping silent. I wonder if I can trust you.  (Picks up a carving knife)  But then uncertainty is part of life’s fascination, isn’t it?  (Wipes knife with a cloth, while Hans watches cautiously.)

HANS:  I’ll take the risk if you will.

This is a very neat scene.  It’s all very subtle, but it works.

 

Later, Stein and Hans are in the laboratory, when the discussion turns to the past.

STEIN: You know that I—that Frankenstein, was condemned to death.

HANS:  Yes.

STEIN: Do you know what for?

HANS:  Well, surely everyone knows.  The story’s become a legend.  He created a man who became a monster.

STEIN: It should have been perfect. I made it to be perfect.  If the brain hadn’t been damaged, my work would have been hailed as the greatest scientific achievement of all time.  Frankenstein would have been accepted as a genius of science.  Instead, he was sent to the guillotine.  I swore I would have my revenge.  They will never be rid of me.  This is something I am proud of.

(Removes tarp and reveals to Hans a body frozen in a tank.)

HANS:  Who is he?

STEIN: Nobody. He isn’t born yet.  But this time he is perfect.  Except for a few scars, he’s perfect.

 

There’s also a decent amount of amusing comic relief in this movie, like in this scene early on, when the Countess brings her daughter Vera to be examined by Dr. Stein, and it’s obvious the girl isn’t sick but that the Countess is only interested in Dr. Stein as a possible future husband for her daughter.

STEIN: I’m afraid there’s very little more I can do for your daughter. Doctors are not magicians.  We cannot diagnose maladies which are not there.

COUNTESS:  You are a man, doctor.  You could do a great deal for her.  Everything I have goes to Vera, when she marries.  It was her father’s last wish.  (Dr. Stein reacts with a knowing expression as he realizes where the Countess is going with this conversation)  Now I’m having a musical evening soon.  I so much hope you’ll be able to come.

STEIN: As much as I like music, I have very little free time.

COUNTESS:  Ah, poor man.  A life devoted to the needs of others.  No time for a life of your own.

STEIN: There’s always time for the important things.

 

Then there’s this bit in the hospital room, where Dr. Stein treats the poor but also uses their body parts for his experiments.  In this scene, he has his eye on the arm of a pick-pocket.

STEIN: You must have it off.

PATIENT #1:  Have what off?

STEIN: This arm.

PATIENT #2:  You’ll have to strangle him with one arm, Harry!

PATIENT #1:  You ain’t going to have my arm off, that’s for sure.

STEIN: If you’d rather die, it’s up to you.

PATIENT #2:  Let him have it, Harry.

PATIENT #1:  The arm don’t pain me none.

STEIN: It’s of no use to you.

PATIENT #1:  What do you mean no use—?

STEIN: Be quiet. (To his assistant):  Five o’clock in the theater.

PATIENT #1:  Doctor, I won’t be able to work no more.

STEIN (to his assistant): What is his work?

ASSISTANT:  Pick-pocket.

STEIN: You’ll have to find another trade or use the other hand.

 

A few moments later, the members of the medical council, including young Hans Kleve, who sees Dr. Stein for the first time, approach the doctor in the poor hospital with a special invitation.

Peter Cushing loved to work with props in his scenes. If you see enough of his movies, you’ll notice that he seems to be most comfortable acting when he’s doing more than one thing, whether it’s fiddling with a pipe, a diary, a pocket watch, or even a carving knife.  He’s incredibly active in his scenes.  In this entire sequence, he converses with the medical council while busily examining a patient.  He barely looks at the council members.

STEIN: Well, what can I do for you?

PRESIDENT:  Well, I am the president of the medical council.

STEIN: Congratulations.

PRESIDENT:  At our last meeting, it was agreed that you should become a member.

STEIN: Really? (To his assistant)  Have this new man washed, and then I’ll look at him.  I am greatly honored, gentlemen.

PRESIDENT:  Then you accept?

STEIN: No.

MALKE: Every doctor on the faculty regards your attitude as an insult!

STEIN: When I arrived in Carlsbruck, without means or influence, and attempted to set up in practice, I was met by a firm resistance from the medical council, which apparently exists purely to eliminate competition. I have built up a highly successful practice alone and unaided.  Having grown accustomed to working alone, I find I prefer it.  Do I make myself clear, gentlemen?

HANS:  Quite clear.

STEIN: Thank you. Good day.

 

THE REVENGE OF FRANKENSTEIN isn’t completely devoid of thrills.  When Karl (Michael Gwynne) escapes and suffers from yet another damaged brain, he becomes a murderer with cannibalistic tendencies, and he kills a young girl in the park.  When the police find the body, they ask for Dr. Stein’s assistance, in this atmospheric scene.

STEIN (to boy): Did you see who attacked her?

(Boy is too emotionally upset to answer.)

POLICE CONSTABLE:  All he could tell me was when he heard the girl scream, he shouted, and then the man rushed off. If it was a man.

STEIN: What do you mean?

CONSTABLE:  Well, sir, the boy said he had a strange shape, almost like an animal, but of course he only caught a glimpse of him.  I think this is more than just an ordinary murder.

STEIN: Have you searched the park?

CONSTABLE:  Thoroughly, sir.

STEIN: Well, there’s nothing I can do here. I’ll let you have my report.

CONTSTABLE:  Thank you, sir.

I’d like to read that report.  “Girl murdered by brain damaged patient. Not responsible for his actions.  His brain needed more time to heal.”

 

And there you have it, some fun Peter Cushing quotes from THE REVENGE OF FRANKENSTEIN.

Hope you enjoyed them, and we’ll see you again next time on a future edition of THE QUOTABLE CUSHING.

Thanks for reading!

—Michael

PICTURE OF THE DAY: THE REVENGE OF FRANKENSTEIN (1958)

0
Peter Cushing as Dr. Stein about to reveal his latest creation to his young assistant Hans (Francis Matthews) in the Hammer Film THE REVENGE OF FRANKENSTEIN (1958)

Peter Cushing as Dr. Stein about to reveal his latest creation to his young assistant Hans (Francis Matthews) in the Hammer Film THE REVENGE OF FRANKENSTEIN (1958)

PICTURE OF THE DAY: THE REVENGE OF FRANKENSTEIN (1958)

Here’s a picture from Hammer’s second Frankenstein movie, THE REVENGE OF FRANKENSTEIN (1958).

This film has always lived in the shadow of its predecessor, THE CURSE OF FRANKENSTEIN (1957), and it’s rarely listed by fans as one of Hammer’s best, but I’ve always liked this movie, and Peter Cushing delivers one of his best performances as Baron Frankenstein here, this time going by the alias “Dr. Stein” since the world believes Baron Frankenstein is dead.

In this photo, Dr. Stein (Peter Cushing) has placed his right hand on the tarp behind him and is just about to remove it to reveal to his young assistant Hans (Francis Matthews) the unborn body of his latest creation.

Stein had just been showing Hans around his laboratory, in particular an experiment involving a brain, eyes, and a hand, and Hans is astounded and says that Stein should be proud of this accomplishment. Stein dismisses this praise, lamenting the limits of what he has been able to do so far.

He asks Hans if he knows why Victor Frankenstein was condemned to death, and Hans says of course, that everyone knows, that he created a man who became a monster, to which Stein responds:

“I built him to be perfect. If the brain hadn’t been damaged—.”

And then, “I swore I would have my revenge. They will never be rid of me.”

Stein pauses, and just before removing the tarp, says, “This is something I am proud of.”

And then he reveals his latest unborn creation to the movie audience.

Many fans have complained that they don’t understand what the revenge in the title refers to, especially since Cushing does not portray the Baron as all that villainous in this movie. But the revenge in the title refers to Baron Frankenstein’s sticking it to the nonbelievers. He’s out to prove to the world that he was right the first time, that he can create life, and that the Creature in the first film was only a murderous beast because Victor’s assistant had damaged the brain.

By the way, Hans’ statement that everyone knows why Baron Frankenstein was condemned to death, because he had created a monster actually goes against the events in the first movie, THE CURSE OF FRANKENSTEIN. In that film, the Baron is sentenced to death on murder charges, and his claims that he’s innocent and that his Creature committed the murders falls on deaf ears because there’s no evidence, as the Creature had fallen to its death into a vat of acid, destroying its body, and the only other man to see the Creature, Victor’s former tutor turned assistant, Paul Krempe, lied to the authorities and said there was no Creature, to make sure that Victor paid the ultimate price for the atrocities he caused. So, contrary to what Hans said here, the world shouldn’t have known about Frankenstein’s Creature.

THE REVENGE OF FRANKENSTEIN actually has a better budget and a more creative story than THE CURSE OF FRANKENSTEIN, but it’s nowhere near as scary, and probably the biggest problem among fans is that the monster in this one is rather wimpy, as Michael Gwynne is no Christopher Lee. Sure, Lee’s Creature is intensely frightening. But the “monster” in this film is completely consistent with the movie’s plot. He’s less frightening because Victor Frankenstein has done a better job this time. It’s a very sympathetic performance by Michael Gwynne as the Monster, but unfortunately, it’s not what movie audiences wanted.

As always, Peter Cushing is terrific as Baron Frankenstein. He does a nice job of balancing the Baron’s heroic and villainous sides in this one, and he tends to be more of a hero this time around.

It’s Peter Cushing’s birthday this month, on May 26. He would have turned 101 this year. Wow.

Enjoy the photo!

And thanks for reading!

—Michael