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Dracula 1931

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  • Dracula 1931

    Showing on TCM Friday 30th August at 19.25

  • #2
    Originally posted by orpheum View Post
    Showing on TCM Friday 30th August at 19.25
    An excellent film with Bela Lugosi. I love these old Universal 'monster movies'.

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    • #3
      A really creepy opening sequence which includes Bela's wonderfully intoned lines about "the children of the night" . Well spotted Orpheum.

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      • #4
        Originally posted by Carl V View Post

        An excellent film with Bela Lugosi. I love these old Universal 'monster movies'.
        The title role was originally intended for Lon Chaney Snr but he died and the the cape passed to Bela.

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        • #5
          Originally posted by cassidy View Post

          The title role was originally intended for Lon Chaney Snr but he died and the the cape passed to Bela.
          Lugosi played the role over 250 times on Broadway and was an enormous success. Chaney would have been a mistake, I feel.

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          • #6
            Bela Lugosi was far from any second choice after Chaney, notwithstanding his stage success in the role. I think Ian Keith was in the running at one point, among several others. Gary D. Rhodes' Tod Browning's Dracula and David J. Skal's Hollywood Gothic are fascinating reads in this connection.

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            • #7
              One of those mentioned was Conrad Veidt, I would have loved to have seen him in the role, yes Lugosi is iconic but Veidt would have been more menacing especially after seeing him in The Spy in black or as Jaffar.

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              • #8
                Originally posted by tv horror View Post
                One of those mentioned was Conrad Veidt, I would have loved to have seen him in the role, yes Lugosi is iconic but Veidt would have been more menacing especially after seeing him in The Spy in black or as Jaffar.
                Conrad was a great actor for sure. I never liked Lugosi, in this or anything else. He was clearly just doing his stage performance with no concessions for cinema (partly the director’s fault, for sure) and I don’t think he ever learned to be a good film actor. A presence definitely, and even entertaining, but he was never much of an actor, imo.

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                • #9
                  I saw a documentary about this film many years ago. It explained that director Tod Browning had started in theatre, and that when he made the film, there were many static scenes where he just set the camera rolling and left it at that. He didn't understand how to pan in order to use it dynamically and add to the drama and atmosphere. That explained a lot to me, as I did find the film rather slow and static. It does have its moments, of course. Lugosi I find rather hammy, but in an enjoyable way. I prefer the Hammer versions, but these days I only watch two: the 1958 version and 'Brides of Dracula'.

                  "I don't drink ... wine", says Lugosi. I agree. A nice glass of rhesus negative goes down very nicely, thank you.

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                  • #10
                    Whatever one may or may not say about Lugosi's performance, back in 1931 he scared the pants off of the cinema audience back in those days, particularly in the opening scenes. I can remember many years back as a youngster talking to relatives who had seen the film when it came out and being quite frightened just listening to their descriptions.

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by garth View Post
                      I saw a documentary about this film many years ago. It explained that director Tod Browning had started in theatre, and that when he made the film, there were many static scenes where he just set the camera rolling and left it at that. He didn't understand how to pan in order to use it dynamically and add to the drama and atmosphere. That explained a lot to me, as I did find the film rather slow and static. It does have its moments, of course. Lugosi I find rather hammy, but in an enjoyable way. I prefer the Hammer versions, but these days I only watch two: the 1958 version and 'Brides of Dracula'.

                      "I don't drink ... wine", says Lugosi. I agree. A nice glass of rhesus negative goes down very nicely, thank you.
                      I'm not sure about that explanation - Browning was by this point an experienced screen director and his previous, silent works had plenty of camera movement.

                      Other explanations which, to me, stack up rather better are that Browning's Dracula was a very early sound production and the director was hamstrung by restrictions imposed by the technology, the noisy camera being encased in a glass booth to stop the row of its workings being picked up by the microphones. Also, Universal lost confidence in the project and cut the budget to the bone.

                      Of course, neither of these explain why the Spanish-language version, shot on the same sets at night by director George Melford, is rather more lively than Browning's film,

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                      • #12
                        Thank you for the extra info, Ian. Yes, that would make sense. The film still represents a landmark in horror films, of course, and as cassidy says, it certainly made an impact in its day.

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by garth View Post
                          Thank you for the extra info, Ian. Yes, that would make sense. The film still represents a landmark in horror films, of course, and as cassidy says, it certainly made an impact in its day.
                          Also, Lugosi was a very handsome man in 1930 - our views of him are too often coloured by his subsequent physical decline and addiction to morphine taken to treat agonising bouts of sciatica.

                          Poor Bela was not well treated by Universal, who dropped him when Britain banned horror movies later in the 1930s, making their production uneconomical to the studio. When he was brought back for 1939's Son of Frankenstein they took every opportunity to pay him the bare minimum they could get away with.

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by cassidy View Post
                            A really creepy opening sequence which includes Bela's wonderfully intoned lines about "the children of the night"
                            Memorably sent up at the beginning of Love At First Bite!

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by garth View Post

                              "I don't drink ... wine", says Lugosi. I agree. A nice glass of rhesus negative goes down very nicely, thank you.
                              …...Particularly after eating a nice thick juicy steak.

                              As for Tod Browning, I think it was his film Freaks (1932) which practically finished off his movie career, as the film proved to be highly controversial. I remember catching this film late one night on the TCM channel, although I suspect it may have been an edited version as I imagine the film would have received extensive cuts prior to being released.

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