Wednesday, July 16, 2014

The Directors Project: #33 - James Whale

Scene from Cinema Paradiso
With the many lists and essays written on the subject of film, there has been one thing that The Oscar Buzz has tried to understand: Who is my favorite of the film world? For 10 weeks this summer, I will be exploring this with a countdown of the Top 50 names based on a numerical ranking of ratings from various sources, the following is a list of directors who rank above everyone else. With occasional upsets, this is intended as both a discussion opener as well as a better understanding of me as a film critic and fan. Please enjoy and leave any comments you have regarding the entry's selection.


Years Active: 1929-1949

Films as Director: 20

Oscar Wins: 0

Who: After getting his start on stage theater, he made his transition to film with an impressive eye for stage design and acting. While his films were at times over-dramatic, he always managed to have a sense of cadence and humanity to them. As he became more successful, his films also captured subtext that reflected on the director's own homosexuality. He helped to popularize horror films with two Frankenstein films and The Invisible Man, which not only became iconic, but helped to influence horror beats for the decades to follow. While the director was conflicted, he was also very successful at creating beautiful, tense films that were more about character than spectacle. His films continue to be dazzling early examples of misfits in society and helped to introduce renegade subtext to mainstream film making.

Scene from The Invisible Man
-- Frankenstein (1931) --

Flickchart Ranking: #3 (900 points)
IMDb Rating: 7/10 (70 points)
Perks: None
Total: 970 points

-- Bride of Frankenstein (1935) --

Flickchart Ranking: #30 (900 points)
IMDb Rating: 6/10 (60 points)
Perks: None
Total: 960 points

-- The Invisible Man (1933) --

Flickchart Ranking: #65 (850)
IMDb Rating: 7/10 (70 points)
Perks: None
Total: 920 points

OVERALL TOTAL: 2850 points

Scene from Frankenstein
When making this list, I wanted to recognize a lot of older filmmakers who I feel deserve their due. While everyone loves Frankenstein, I do not feel enough people know who James Whale is. He is a fantastic director who directed three of the best horror films of the 30's, and of all time. Mixing his background in the theater with subtext on homosexuality and being an outcast, he managed to create characters so vivid and lively that his strange tendencies were present in almost every moment. The performances are superb and the production is unsurpassed by many later reiterations of the same material. He really had confidence and a vision that made his work such a powerful force. I hope that as I discover more of his filmography that I will continue to admire what he has done not just for horror, but for films in general.

UP NEXT: An absurd romanticist who continues to alter the way that we look at the world around us.

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