The latest installment in my continuing series celebrating Universal Studio’s 100th Anniversary.
Poor Bela Lugosi. When asked to transfer his stage success the silver screen by starring in Tod Browning’s Dracula (apparently he was NOT even the first choice), little did he know that this would be the role that would define his career (and life).
While not the first filmed version of Bram Stoker’s ‘undead’ (most notable in my mind the nightmarish Nosferatu), it is the Dracula imprinted on our collective memory. Lugosi’s portrayal of the Count is that of a haunting, seductive bloodsucking nightwalker.
Today’s cinemagoers will probably not be convinced by the stagey nature of the film and its performances, but that does not make it any more impactful. First of all it should be noted that while this is based on Stoker’s source material, the direct text, etc. is taken from the aforementioned stage play Dracula. Second and most importantly, I imagine what also terrified audiences at the time was down to the cadence of Lugosi’s delivery and the deliberate pacing of his movements. As a child I remember mimicking him, walking around saying, “I vaunt to suck your blood!” It has been a while now so I am not even sure those exact words are even uttered in the film.
One element that I never fully resolved myself was the fact that while many of the characters are wearing contemporary clothes, they traverse the landscape in horse-drawn carriages. It is possible that automobiles have not reach Carpathian Mountains; anyone have a clue?
In 2000, Dracula was selected for preservation in the National Film Registry. (Source: Wikipedia)