Elsa Lanchester, “The Bride of Frankenstein” Sings Bawdy Cockney Songs

Michael Azerrad

By Michael Azerrad

on 04.22.11 in Reviews

Most people know the late, great Elsa Lanchester from her title role in the classic 1935 The Bride of Frankenstein. But she was actually much more like the kooky painter she played in the 1948 noir classic The Big Clock — as this collection will amply attest. Trained as a dancer, she'd begun singing at the Cave of Harmony, a progressive theatre troupe she'd co-founded in the mid '20s, performing odd old Victorian songs as entr'actes. In 1941, she began singing at the Turnabout Theatre in West Hollywood — and appeared there virtually every night for ten years, singing — in a voice a Time reporter excellently described as "scrape-fiddle soprano" — the kind of risqué, innuendo-laden cabaret songs the British used to do so well. Her husband, the legendary actor Charles Laughton developed a one-woman show with her, and it toured the US; she made these recordings in 1957 and 1958.

The Bride of Frankenstein like you’ve never seen her before.

Legend has it that when Lanchester performed "Please Sell No More Drink to My Father" at the Cave of Harmony in 1926, a member of the British Royal family walked out in disgust. So you know it's good.