Dracula is one of the most famous characters of all time – whether in literature or in the movies.
The classic created by Bram Stoker and one of the icons of the 19th century Gothic novel has already been adapted numerous times for cinema and, without a doubt, the best known and most influential version is the 1931 feature film .Starring Bela Lugosi and directed by Tod Browning, the film became a critical and commercial success which allowed Universal Pictures to start its universe of monsters which would continue in the same year with “ Frankenstein ” and, later, with titles like ‘The Mummy’, ‘The Invisible Man’ and ‘The Bride of Frankenstein’.
Lugosi had previously played the character on Broadway stages and took his iconic performance to theaters to receive more acclaim and eternalize one of the most complex and controversial horror figures of all time.
Today, February 14, in the midst of celebrating Valentine’s Day, the work spans nine decades and, to celebrate its continuing legacy, CinePOP has separated ten curiosities about “Dracula”.
“SPECIES? I DON’T CARE”
Lugosi was so excited to repeat his success on stage and return to the role of Count Dracula that he accepted a contract that would only pay him $ 500 per week for a seven week schedule – a very small amount even for the aftermath of the Tall. Depression of 1929.
The iconic Dracula Castle, which dates back to mid-13th century Gothic architecture, has been hand painted on glass placed in front of the chamber. The coachman who walked the road was real, but the whole scene was not.
In a scene where Dracula and Renfield (Dwight Frye) travel to London by boat, the footage shown is borrowed from another Universal classic, the silent film “The Storm Breaker”. Silent movies were shown in a different FPS than walkie talkies, which is why there were some weird and playful actions that were more sped up.
“LOOK ME IN THE EYES”
Cinematographer Karl Freund conquered the effect of Dracula’s fascinating eyes in a very simple way: by using two small spotlights that beamed towards Bela Lugosi’s eyes.
There was no real soundtrack in the movie, as it was believed that with the transition to sounds being a fairly recent innovation, audiences would not agree to listen to music in a scene without a plausible explanation – for example. example, the orchestra playing off the stage. when Dracula finds his victim in the theater).
The original Broadway production, starring Lugosi, began at the Fulton Theater on October 5, 1927 and lasted 261 performances. Lugosi wasn’t the only cast member to be taken to the film: Edward Van Sloan and Herbert Bunston also re-performed their roles as Van Helsing and Dr. Seward, respectively.
A LEGEND IN ANOTHER LEGEND
Helen Chandler was not the first actress named to play Mina Harker in the production; in fact, the legendary Bette Davis, who had a contract with Universal at the time, was considered to play her. However, the studio manager didn’t stake too many chips on the actress’ sex appeal and decided against hiring her.
The film only happened thanks to Lugosi. The actor negotiated the purchase of the copyrights to the production with Bram Stoker’s widow and original play writer Hamilton Deane, buying them for $ 40,000 (a value that today matches nearly of $ 690,000).
When introduced, Lugosi loved to walk around the film set saying, “I’m Dracula!”. He did the same, looking at himself in the mirror. It was how he had found himself mentally preparing for the role. As a classically trained actor in Hungary, he used one of the many acting techniques he had learned to absorb the character and bring out the best performance.
When the film was reissued in 1936, several edits and deletions were demanded by distributors, including Renfield’s cry when he is murdered and Dracula’s moan as the stake is driven into his heart. The reason? The introduction of the Hays Code two years earlier – a set of moral standards applied in movie titles to “clean up” content brought to the big screen.
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