Gods and Monsters

Gods and Monsters

Infobox Film
name = Gods and Monsters

caption = "Gods and Monsters" film poster
director = Bill Condon
producer = Paul Colichman
Gregg Fienberg
Mark R. Harris
writer = Novel: Christopher Bram
Screenplay: Bill Condon
narrator =
starring = Ian McKellen
Brendan Fraser
Lynn Redgrave
Matt McKenzie
music = Carter Burwell
cinematography = Stephen M. Katz
editing = Virginia Katz
distributor = Lions Gate Films
released = January 21, 1998
runtime = 105 min.
country = USA
language = English
budget = ~ US$ 3,500,000
preceded_by =
followed_by =
website =
amg_id = 1:160237
imdb_id = 0120684

"Gods and Monsters" is a 1998 film which recounts the (somewhat fictionalized) last days of the life of troubled film director James Whale, whose homosexuality is a central theme. It stars Ian McKellen as Whale, along with Brendan Fraser, Lynn Redgrave, Lolita Davidovich, and David Dukes. The movie was adapted by Bill Condon (who also directed) from the novel "Father of Frankenstein" by Christopher Bram. It was executive produced by famed British horror novelist Clive Barker.

The film won the Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay, and was nominated for Best Actor in a Leading Role (Ian McKellen) and Best Actress in a Supporting Role (Lynn Redgrave).

The film features reconstructions of the filming of "Bride of Frankenstein", a movie Whale directed. The title comes from a line in "Bride of Frankenstein".

Plot summary

A gardener, Clay Boone (Brendan Fraser), starts working on the yard of James Whale (Ian McKellen), hired by Whale's housekeeper Hanna (Lynn Redgrave). James is impressed by Clay and asks him to pose for him. Clay is reluctant at first and balks at taking his shirt off for James, but he does so. James begins sketching and the two begin talking about their lives and finding they have some things in common.

At this time, James has been retired from Hollywood for at least a decade and for a year now has been suffering from strokes. He also suffers through reminiscences of World War I and the making of "The Bride of Frankenstein".

James is visited by a starstruck college student who wishes to interview him. James wants to talk about his childhood, his service in World War I, etc., but the young man only cares to hear about the "Frankenstein" films. James will only answer those questions if the young man will gradually undress. The interview is cut short when James faints and his housekeeper gives him a Luminal (phenobarbital) pill.

Clay begins researching Whale's film career, and is impressed. At his favorite bar, Clay and his friends watch "Bride of Frankenstein" on TV. His friends laugh, his girlfriend is unimpressed but Clay is interested. His girlfriend speculates that James is just an old fruit pretending to be famous to get into Clay's pants.

Hanna confirms that Whale is homosexual. At first Clay declines James' offer for another sitting fee, but acquiesces and even talks a little bit about James' homosexuality with him. Clay also confirms that James knows he's straight. Clay storms off angrily when Whale resumes speaking graphically about the young gay men who've posed previously.

Clay returns to work on the garden again and even pose, on the condition that Whale not speak that way again. James invites Clay to a royal party hosted by George Cukor, where the young man who interviewed James earlier has arranged a photo op for James together with Boris Karloff and Elsa Lanchester. However, James feels as out of place at the party as Clay does. It starts raining and the two return to James' residence, from which Hanna has taken the night off.

James persuades Clay to pose for him again. He does so, even volunteering to pose nude. James takes the opportunity to put a gas mask on Clay and touch him. Predictably, Clay gets angry and attacks James. James confesses that this was his plan all along, to use Clay as his means of assisted suicide. Knowing this, Clay refuses to go along with it. Clay puts James to bed and sleeps downstairs.

When Hanna returns the next morning, he tries to explain that it's not what it looks like, but Hanna can't find James in his bedroom, or anywhere in the house. Clay realizes what has happened, and dives into the pool and fishes James out, but he's dead. Hanna commands Clay to leave so he will not be questioned by the police after returning James' body to the pool.

For the epilogue, the film skips ahead about roughly a decade. Clay has a son who enjoys watching "Bride of Frankenstein" on TV. Clay gives his son one of James's sketches for the Frankenstein monster. Clay's wife or girlfriend asks him to take out the trash. Clay does so and it starts raining, he returns to the house walking like the Frankenstein monster.

Real life basis

James Whale did have several men (and women) pose for him nude, and some of these are shown in the making-of featurette. Several of his paintings were bought by a collector and loaned to the studio for the making of this film.

James Whale did suffer from strokes towards the end of his life and was found dead in his pool. There were rumors that this was a homicide, but the evidence only pointed at suicide. It is a matter of speculation if Whale had any assistance in his suicide.

Whale's household might have hired a male gardener, but what sort of relationship he had with his employer is in the realm of speculation. In the documentary included on the DVD, novelist Christopher Bram admits that the character of Clay Boone is completely fictitious.


External links

* [http://www.godsandmonsters.net/ Official site]
*imdb title|id=0120684|title=Gods and Monsters
*rotten-tomatoes|id=gods_and_monsters|title=Gods and Monsters

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