April 2, 2013
As a follow-up to my previous post, here, a bit scuffed and yellowed, is a surprising front-of-house still — a British lobby card — for Thursday’s Child (1943) revealing the Frankenstein cameo. I wonder if patrons were confused, wondering what this posed shot of Kathleen O’Regan reacting to the iconic Monster had to do with this particular movie. Any concern about scary content was relieved by the “U” rating on the card, standing for “Universal”, signifying all ages admitted and suitable for children.
Ironically, the very same year as The Monster’s gag appearance in Thursday’s Child, Universal Pictures’ 1935 Bride of Frankenstein was re-released in the UK with a dreaded “H” certificate, indicating “horror”, alerting parents and strictly limiting admission to 16 year-olds and over. Starting in 1932, the “H” cert was slapped on any horror film that wasn't banned outright. The “H” was replaced by the “X” certificate in 1951. The equivalent today is the “18” certificate.
The British classification system, first introduced in 1912, has been revised through the years, with horror, in particular, being re-evaluated as the shock effect of older films attenuates. Classic horror that rated an “H” in the Thirties are routinely reclassified as “15” today.
Image from the collection of Robert Kiss.