Monday, October 07, 2019

Dracula Adaptations | Drácula (1931)

Who's in it?: Carlos Villarías and Lupita Tovar.

What's it about?: At the same time Tod Browning filmed his iconic adaptation with Bela Lugosi, Universal also produced this Spanish-language version from the same script and using the same sets, but with different actors and directors.

How is it?: For obvious reasons, it makes the same changes to the novel that Browning's version does, but I like it better in a lot of ways.

It doesn't have Bela Lugosi or Dwight Frye, which is a drawback, but Carlos Villarías makes his own, successful choices as Dracula and Pablo Álvarez Rubio is a perfectly good Renfield. Best of all, Lupita Tovar is a far superior, livelier Mina (renamed Eva) to Helen Chandler's stiff version and since that's always the character I'm most interested in, it lifts the whole production up for me.

There are also extended versions of some of the familiar scenes from the Browning version and even the scenes it has in common are often interpreted slightly differently. This is way more than just a curiosity for completists. It holds up on its own as well as provides a different lens to look at Browning's version through.

Rating: Four out of five Minas


Erik Johnson Illustrator said...

I’m struggling to find something to compare this to, were you have two simultaneous versions filmed at the same time. I imagine this happened because sound technology was still relatively new , otherwise dubbing or subbing would have been the way to go to reach the international market.

The few clips I’ve seen make it seem more dynamic and less restrained than the English version. The recognizable sets makes it feel less like a remake and more like a cover version.

Caffeinated Joe said...

Haven't seen it, myself. But with you now, I have only heard good things about this version. Did it not do well for Universal? I never hear of them doing this again on say Frankenstein or anything.

Michael May said...

I never even thought about that, Joe. Why DON'T we have a Spanish version of Frankenstein? Huh.

Erik, I like your cover version analogy. It's like a mariachi version of Swan Lake.


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