James Whale was an English film director, theatre director and actor. He is best remembered for his work in the horror film genre, having directed such classics as Frankenstein, The Old Dark House, The Invisible Man and Bride of Frankenstein. Whale directed over a dozen films in other genres, including what is considered the definitive film version of the musical Show Boat. He became increasingly disenchanted with his association with horror, but many of his non-horror films have fallen into obscurity.
Born into a large family in Dudley, England, Whale early discovered his artistic talent and studied art. With the outbreak of World War I, Whale enlisted in the British Army and became an officer. He was captured by the Germans and during his time as a prisoner of war he realized he was interested in drama. Following his release at the end of the war he became an actor, set designer and director. His success directing the 1928 play Journey's End led to his move to the United States, first to direct the play on Broadway and then to Hollywood to direct motion pictures. Whale lived in Hollywood for the rest of his life, most of that time with his longtime companion, producer David Lewis. Including Journey's End, Whale directed a dozen films for Universal Studios between 1930 and 1936, developing a style characterized by the influence of German Expressionism and a highly mobile camera.