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James Whale

James Whale (July 22, 1896-May 29, 1957) was a Hollywood film director. Born in Dudley, England, to a working class family, his parents were too poor to afford him an extensive education and so he worked in a foundry while attending evening classes in art.

He was best known for his work in the horror genre, making such momentous genre pictures as Frankenstein, Bride of Frankenstein, and The Invisible Man and was also responsible for such major films as Waterloo Bridge, Show Boat, and The Man in the Iron Mask.

Despite being repressed into maintaining a degree of secrecy, Whale was a notorious homosexual. Many suggest that there are homosexual themes and discourses in his motion pictures and as a result his biographies are considered noteworthy in gay and lesbian studies.

He was a very gentile man and while eventually joining the military, rising to the rank of sergeant and fighting for his country in the first world war he placed the value of human life above patriotism. Whale procrastinated from sending his men over the top of their trench and into No Man's Land for a long time and was succesful in saving their lives.

Whale is the subject of the novel Father of Frankenstein by Christopher Bram, which was the basis for the 1998 film Gods and Monsters. The film, which won an Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay, starred Ian McKellan as Whale. A good biography of Whale is written by Mark Gatiss and titled 'James Whale: A Biogaphy' (or 'James Whale: the would-be gentleman').

In his last days, Whale experienced difficulty with his memory due to a debilitating stroke. He became lonely and suffered from depression and had difficulty putting the war behind him. He died May 29, 1957.

A memorial statue was erected for Whale in 2002 in the grounds of a new multiplex cinema of his home town, Dudley. The statue depicts a roll of film with the face of Frankenstein's monster engraved into the cells and the names of his most famous films etched into the film-tin shaped base-stone.

Note: This profile was written in or before 2004.

James Whale Facts

BirthdayJuly 22, 1896
BirthplaceDudley, England, United Kingdom
Date of deathMay 29, 1957 (age 60)

Selected Filmography

Frankenstein: Complete Legacy Collection
Wives Under Suspicion
Sinners in Paradise
Universal Monsters: The Essential Collection
Universal Classic Monsters Collection
The Invisible Man: Complete Legacy Collection
The Invisible Man
The Bride of Frankenstein
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