Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Dracula (1931)

"To truly die... That must be glorious!" The Count.

Last night my class was more than unbearable. The professor made so many tangents and reviewed topics we've already covered, more than three times... I thought I was going to perish in my seat from shear annoyance. I was sorely tempted to leave at break and make my evening a little more productive; however, attendance is mandatory and I didn't want to have any points taken off my grade. Luckily, I prepared for such a case in advance. At the break I slipped in my DVD of "Dracula" staring Bela Lugosi, clicked on the subtitles, and was alright for the rest of the class. The trick is to look up at the professor from time to time and nod or look slightly curious (too much curiosity and the professor will wonder if you're sick or call on you to ask if you have a problem).

The movie was an excellent pick on my part, if I may say so. Every time Lugosi is on screen, your eyes have to follow him. He radiates seduction and danger. He steals this movie from every actor in it. I think Tod Browning, the director, was also a genius for not showing fangs and bites. Throughout the whole movie you never see anyone actually bitten nor do you see bite marks. I know it wasn't his full intention since it was the 1930s and such things were not seen on screen, but the sexual tension is there in full force! I had to look away from my laptop screen a couple times or I would have blushed in class! The way the actors moved and interacted with each other was stunning. Lugosi could just stand in the forest with his silk cloak over one shoulder and look positively confident and virile.

The movies tries desperately to hold onto the original story but it doesn't quiet make it. It's close but no cigar. If "Dracula" were made according to Bram Stoker's novel, he'd look more like Max Schreck's character from "Nosferatu." There would be no Transylvanian prince.

After I finished watching the film at my apartment, I thought of how sad Bela Lugosi's life was afterwards. He didn't go into obscurity right away. He did land other roles as great villains, but people always cast him in the hopes of seeing Dracula. It was a travesty. He died a drug addict (painkillers) with no money in 1956. Frank Sinatra actually quietly paid for his funeral. Lugosi was buried wearing coat and tails, along with the same silk cloak he wore in Dracula. Vincent Price actually recalls Peter Lorre turning to him at the funeral and saying, "Do you think we should drive a stake through his heart just in case?" This statement shows how prolific Dracula was on Lugosi and even after being dead for more than 30 years, is still immortal in cinema.


Karswell said...

There is definitely no other film like Dracula ('31.) Lugosi was a true, one of a kind actor and nearly all of his performances still hold up today thanks to that endless onscreen charm and charisma, weither playing it good or playing it bad, he always brough a level of professionalism even to the lowliest of his later Grade Z projects. Some actors are timeless for a reason!

This was a very nice tribute and I enjoyed reading it. And I love the first photo of Bela that you used too.

Okay... now where'd you get that Dark Shadows tee shirt??!

ACollinsVampire said...

Thanks, Karswell! Lugosi should never be forgotten, along with Karloff, Price, Lorre, and others.

And Ebay for the shirt! A lady on there has her own vintange shop that she sells all kinds of stuff from. She modifies the shirts, too, since mine wasn't originally off the shoulder.