Tuesday, October 02, 2012
31 Days of Dracula | Bela Lugosi (1931)
As Caffeinated Joe said in yesterday's comments, this month is the COUNTdown to Halloween wherein we visit with 31 different Draculas (or close derivations). I wish I had room in the subject line to include COUNTdown as a permanent title, because that's awesome.
I don't know what's left to say about Bela Lugosi's version of the Count from Tod Browning's classic film. He's not as terrifying as Max Schreck's, but he's got that suave, exotic thing down and man, that thing he does with his hands. It's worth remembering that he reprised the role in Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein, which I'm guessing most people reading this have seen. But if you haven't, please reward yourself and check it out. It's hilarious, but Lugosi and the other monsters (Lon Chaney Jr as the Wolf Man and Glenn Strange as Frankenstein's Monster) play it totally straight.
I should also mention that when Browning was filming his version of Dracula, a Spanish team used the same set and script to make a Spanish-language version. It's actually better than Browning's in several respects, the most memorable to me being the Spanish version of Mina. I really can't stand Helen Chandler's performance in the English version. It's worth watching not only because it's good, but it's also fascinating from a film study standpoint to see how different filmmakers made use of the same resources.
The biggest thing that the Spanish version doesn't have though (besides Browning's style) is Lugosi. It's an iconic performance and had a bigger influence on future interpretations than any other.