You hear a lot about how many films from the early days of cinema have been lost to history due to various reasons. But you don’t really hear so much about the trailers for many early films also disappearing into the mists of time. Often considered just advertising ephemera, there seems to be very little emphasis in restoring, archiving and preserving trailers. Which makes the new announcement that a long-thought lost trailer for 1939’s Son Of Frankenstein has been discovered surprising and exciting.
What makes the discovery remarkable for fans and scholars of Universal’s early cycle of horror films is that the trailer contains alternate takes of scenes that are in the final film as well as glimpses at scenes that were deleted from the final cut.
Directed by Rowland V. Lee, Son Of Frankenstein was the third entry in Universal’s popular series about the mad scientist (and now his offspring) and the monster created out of parts of cadavers of the freshly dead. The film featured Boris Karloff once again returning to his iconic role as the Monster with Basil Rathbone being brought in as the young scion of the mad scientist family. Coming over from the studio’s Dracula series is star Bela Lugosi to co-star as Frankenstein’s hunchbacked lab assistant Ygor. The film also features Lionel Atwill in the role that Kenneth Mars was spoofing in Mel Brooks’ Young Frankenstein. The film was a success for the studio, though they took three years until they followed it up with Ghost Of Frankenstein in 1942. That film would feature Lon Chaney, Jr. in the role of the Monster as Karloff had elected to move on.