Bride of the Witness of Elsa Lanchester by Death

Elsa LanchesterOn this day in 1902, the great actor Elsa Lanchester was born. She will always be associated with Bride of Frankenstein. She played both Mary Shelley and “the bride.” And she was wonderful. It’s kind of strange. I remember watching that movie on Creature Features with my older brother and sister when I was maybe 9 years old. I was terrified. Yet now it is a film I watch when I want to get cheered up. It’s so sweet — especially when “the monster” takes the hand of “the bride” and pats it gently. Of course, she doesn’t respond well.

Lanchester had a long and distinguished career. She received two Academy Award nominations for Come to the Stable and Witness for the Prosecution. What I’m most taken with is that she exudes fun up on the screen. Her role as the chatty nurse Miss Plimsoll in the second of these could easily have been annoying, but with Lanchester it is just a delight. She and Charles Laughton were married their whole adult lives until he died. They starred in nine films together. Here she is talking with Dick Cavett about Laughton, Isadora Duncan, and how to pronounce her last name:

Some nice person put together four minutes of clips from various movies, with the Bride of Frankenstein music on top of it. I think her personality comes across really well even without dialog:

Let’s just end with one of her very last films, Murder By Death. In it, she plays a Miss Marple parody, Jessica Marbles. At the end of it, Dora Charleston (parody of Nora Charles from The Thin Man) says, “I like her; I really like her.” And I couldn’t agree more.

Happy birthday Elsa Lanchester!

3 thoughts on “Bride of the Witness of Elsa Lanchester by Death

  1. She was also very sensitive to Laughton’s homosexuality. I’ve seen her talking about how painful it was for him; she sounds like a wise and compassionate person to have hitched one’s wagon to. Of course Laughton gave us some of the finest performances as overbearing authoritarian assholes ever, and directed a movie way ahead of its time about the creepy sexual sickness of hardcore fundamentalists, so at least (with his wife’s help) he turned his personal experiences into some terrific art.

  2. Please share this with anyone who would like to see Elsa’s life story become a TV bioseries. If you would like this to happen, please share your opinion at misslanchester@gmail.com, and take a look at the YouTube channel called Turnabout Time that features a few short videos you may want to share.

    Thank you.

    • Gladly. I’m especially interested in her relationship with Charles Laughton. Obviously, they were not lovers. Yet there is no doubt they loved each other. I’d love to see that!

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