Friday, 27 August 2010

"I never drink... wine."

In 1897 a book was published by an Irish author that was not an immediate bestseller. That it should become in the following century. In the 1920s the novel was adapted as a play and became later a longtime hit on broadway. The actor who played the lead should star in the 1931 Universal Studios-adaptation of the play: Bela Lugosi. The author was Bram Stoker and the novel was DRACULA.

In a nutshell:

Renfield (Dwight Frye), a young British estate agent, travels to Transylvania to make a deal with Count Dracula (Bela Lugosi). Dracula, who is a vampire, takes possession of him and travels with Renfield to England. There Dracula meets Dr. Seward (Herbert Bunston), Mina Seward (Helen Chandler) -Dr. Sewards daughter -, Mina's fiancé John Harker (David Manners) and Lucy (Frances Dade), Mina's friend. Dracula turns Lucy into a vampire and tries the same to Mina, but is finally killed by famous Dr. Van Helsing (Edward Van Sloan).

Watch out for

The voice of the harbour master - it is director Tod Browning himself!

  • The melody played at the opening credits is from Tchaikovsky's "Swan Lake" and was Universal Studio's signature tune for their horror movies as THE MUMMY or the like.

  • Though he was the star Bela Lugosi earned only $500/week.

  • It exists a memo saying: "Dracula is only to attack women." - apparently there shouldn't be any gay subtext.

  • Bela Lugosi and Edward Van Sloan are the only actors out of this picture who appeared also in the original 1927 play on Broadway.

  • The hungarian innkeeper is played by Michael Visaroff, who also appears in Tod Browning's FREAKS (1932).

  • A spanish version was filmed silmutaniously (same time, same set, different actors.)

  • You can see the set (Carfax Abbey & Dracula's castle) in other Universal movies.

  • It is said, that Bela Lugosi doesn't blink once in this film - I have not checked that yet..

  • Dracula never shows fangs in this film.

  • Bette Davis was supposed to play Mina but producer Carl Laemmle, jr. wasn't positive about her sex appeal.

  • Helen Chandler and Frances Dade were good friends.

  • Conrad Veidt, Paul Muni and Lon Chaney (who died before this film was realised) were considered to play Dracula.

  • In Dracula's castle you can see some opossums - there are no opossums in mid/east europe. That applies too for other animals like the armadillo.

  • Dwight Frye and Bela Lugosi appeared together with Frederic March in a broadway comedy play THE DEVIL AND THE CHEESE in 1926. Neither Lugosi nor Frye should play many comedies on screen after DRACULA.

  • Geraldine Dvorak, who plays one of Dracula's wifes was Greta Garbo's stand-in.

  • The first lines in this movie are spoken by Carla Laemmle - Carl Laemmle's niece - she plays a young tourist, who drives in the carriage together with Renfield and other people.


  • You can hear Franz Schubert's "Unfinished Symphony" and the prelude to Richard Wagner's "Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg".

Murphy's Law:

  • Renfields briefcase appears magically on the table whilst it was seconds before in Draculas hands.

  • Dr. Seward's asylum is considered to be near London and in Whitby - must be a really colossal estate for Whitby is on the Yorkshire coast in nothern England..

My favourite feature:

Dracula's castle.

Favourite character:

Renfield - I am a fan of Dwight Frye..

Scene to see:

Renfield arrives and Dracula welcomes him to his castle.

Quotes corner:

One of the most famous film lines ever is delivered by Dracula himself:

"Children of the night, what music they make."

This film differs for the most part from the novel, which I am a great fan of. If you want to see a more authentic adaptation I recommend the 1992 version with Gary Oldman as Dracula to you - I really love that film, but won't make a revision because it is way to young for this blog.. *sigh* - maybe I should make a parallel blog with newer films.. naah.. - The 1931 version was planned to be more authentic to the novel, but after the Great Depression to adapt the play was less expensive.

I like the fact that music is used very sparingly - which is normal for the beginning talkies: Music was only used when actually music was played in a scene and in the credits of course. The nontalking sequences are more intensive that way.

I love Bela Lugosi because he resembles my late grandfather and there for it's a great delight for me to watch DRACULA.

Goodbye I'll go and watch another movie - or this one again? -

"Isn't this a strange conversation for men who AREN'T crazy?"


  1. Hello to Cuki!
    "I bid you wellcome!" I hope you have a great time reading my blog!

  2. Coucou Irene, very cute your blog, thanks for wellcome!

  3. looooove the original novel! you should watch the adaptation called nosferatu (:

  4. I'm embarrassed as a Bette Davis fan that I did not know she potentially could have played Mina. Although, I can understand the producers hesitance on her sex appeal, she could probably take Dracula with her eyes closed.

    Also, you asked on my blog if I preferred Rebecca's Maxim de Winter or Wuthering Heights' Heathcliff. My answer is both, in novel form I like Heathcliff, he has more of a personality. In film, while both are played by Laurence Olivier my vote goes to Larry as Maxim. I've always thought he was a little docile to play Heath, in my opinion Orson Welles would have been a better choice.

    Oh, and thanks for following my blog!

  5. Rebecca, nice to meet a fellow dracula-novel-fan! NOSFERATU is great! I refer to the 1922 silent classic - did you mean the same? I did not see the version with Klaus Kinski yet - the 70ies Kinski gives me the heebie-jeebies.. And I think there is a movie in 1990 called NOSFERATU, too.

    Whitney, "I bid you wellcome!", too! I'd love to see Bette Davis in that picture - but I can't imagine her in a scream-part.. I am sure she would have managed it well, but I can't picture it. :") And I can't imagine any vampire having enough guts to bite Miss Davis! ;")

    I am totally with you on Heathcliff having more of a personality. I like him much more than Maxim - but I like Laurence Oliver better performing as Heathcliff than Maxim. (well, I CAN'T STAND Maxim de Winter!) Orson Welles would have been great as Heathcliff though! Much more sinister!

  6. Quel bel univers rétro comme j'aime !
    Ca a un charme fou, j'adore !

  7. Merci du fond du cœur, Tatieva! :")


I really appreciate your comments - I'll read them all and if I can think of an answer I'll post it. :")