Spotlight on Dwight Frye
When you think of the greatest actors of the horror genre fans will be quick to name off legends like; Bela Lugosi, Vincent Price, and Sir Christopher Lee. But far too often fans forget an actor who left an unmistakable mark on the genre, Dwight Frye. Frye was an actor who established a reputation as one of the greats on stage and set out for a new challenge by venturing out to Hollywood. He had a unique talent for playing bizarre and quirky characters who often stole the show. Sadly like many others in cinema his career went downhill and he eventually passed. Ironically enough before his death, Frye was set to take on a role in the Oscar winning film, Wilson which would have no doubt brought new life to his career as an actor. Since his death he has become a cult figure to horror fans and was even immortalized by an Alice Cooper song, “The Ballad of Dwight Frye.” For those who have never been introduced to his unique performances here is a great list of his finest performances.
Dracula: The film where it all started for Frye as he portrayed the insect consuming Renfield. In the picture he exhibited the tremendous range which had made him a legend on stage. He began the film as a charming and mild-mannered salesman and ended as a raving yet entertaining maniac. Even sharing the stage with the legendary Bela Lugosi he held his own and proved that the Count was not the only memorable monster from that flick.
Frankenstein: If you are looking for Ygor look instead to the Son of Frankenstein, in the Universal Monster flick that started the Frankenstein craze, Frye took on the role of the hunchbacked assistant Fritz. Far from the raving maniac he was in Dracula, Fritz was an odd social misfit, who was forced to aid the ambitious Dr. Frankenstein and at the same time show a bit of his sadistic side to the monster…but it does not end well for the hunchback.
Bride of Frankenstein: Legendary filmmaker James Whale enjoyed working with Dwight Frye so much that when the time came to make the sequel which would rank among the all-time greats, he brought the quirky actor back. With Fritz having joined the choir-invisible in the previous flick, Frye took on the role of an unscrupulous crook who is recruited to work with the evil Dr. Pretorius.
The Vampire Bat: A lesser known horror flick from this era, but an enjoyable flick all the same. In a town where a vampire is suspected of preying on the citizenry a villain must be found. Unfortunately the suspect is Herman Gleib played by Frye who is a local oddball.
OMG, The Vampire Bat! I haven’t thought of that movie in ages!
Thanks for the reminder and the profile 🙂
Reblogged this on adamhellonwheels.
Funny you should post this article now. I was just thinking about Fry last night. He a very underrated film actor and it’s sad that his first big part in film is the one that damns the rest of his career.
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I’ve been a HUGE Dwight Frye Fan ever since I saw his iconic portrayal as “Renfield” in the 1931 classic horror film, “Dracula”. From the moment I saw him in that movie which was back in 1971, I was all of eleven years old and even then, I knew the dynamic intensity that this actor brought to every performance was quite powerful. Thank you so much for spot lighting this multi talented actor. Too bad Hollywood never gave him a chance to really embrace what a fantastic performer he really was.