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Richard--W
09-28-2012, 12:12 AM
Some people think Tod Browning's distress over Lon Chaney's death affected his direction of Dracula (1931). I wouldn't know about that, but when the Spanish crew under George Melford and Enrique Tovar Ávalos shot their alternate version at night, they not only replicated every one of Browning's scenes, they deliberated the scenes much further than Browning did, and shot additional scenes that Browning discarded. Spanish Dracula has twice as many camera setups -- some of them delightfully creepy -- more special effects and lasts 29 minutes longer. The only thing the Spanish version doesn't do better is Dracula himself. Carlos Villarías does fine, but he's nothing special. In a perfect world, Bela Lugosi's electrifying presence and defining performance would grace the Spanish version as well.

It is true that Spanish Dracula builds on Browning's Dracula and couldn't exist without it.

Which version do you prefer? Which version tells the story better? In which version is the script better realized?

Ian Jane
09-28-2012, 09:18 AM
I won't argue that in many ways the Spanish version is superior, but it's not the one I go to when I want a Dracula fix - so I'm voting for the Browning version mainly because I have trouble with anyone but Lugosi in the role (for the era, that is).

Ehren H
09-28-2012, 01:17 PM
Personally, I'm with Ian and I have to go with the Lugosi version. For me, that is most likely because of familiarity, it's just what I grew up with. The Spanish version, while technically better in so many ways, doesn't capture the same feel for me that the Lugosi one does. His performance really does make the movie in so many ways.

That said, while I recognize their importance and influence on EVERYTHING that came after, I don't particular think of either of them as "great" films, or even among the greatest Universal horror flicks. I think Whale's Frankenstein towers above them, and I'm sure many consider it blasphemy, but I find myself watching Browning's Mark of the Vampire far more than I watch his version of Dracula. My personal favorite Dracula, however, will always be Christopher Lee, and my favorite Dracula film of all time is actually Dracula Has Risen From The Grave, an odd choice I know haha

Mark Tolch
09-28-2012, 01:30 PM
I give Spanish Dracula all kinds of props for the reasons you mentioned, Richard...but I'm the same Bela-freak that the other guys are. Bela MAKES Dracula for me.

Koukol
09-28-2012, 02:46 PM
For me, Bela is DRACULA...period!

The Spanish version has some better moments like when Dracula first appears but the actor is so bad he ruins the film for me.

Gary Banks
09-29-2012, 11:36 AM
I would love to meld Lugosi, Frye & Van Sloan into the Spanish version. The Melford version is much better to look at. OTOH Carlos bugs his eyes so much I get the idea that underneath his cape somebody is giving him a painful prostate exam.

I like Melford's version but when I really want to watch Dracula I'll go with the Browning version only because of the three actors mentioned above.

Richard--W
08-01-2013, 06:13 PM
Bela Lugosi's Dracula is the Dracula I fell in love with as a toddler, and I still love what Lugosi does, and I still love the film. I can't imagine Dracula without Lugosi.

But decades later, a treasure chest was discovered that demonstrated there is more to the 1931 Dracula than previously thought. Spanish Dracula is that treasure chest. It is the superior film. I wish Lugosi were in it.

Lalala76
08-01-2013, 07:05 PM
Interesting question. For me, no matter how hard I try I can't get my head around the Spanish Dracula, just because as others have mentioned it isn't Bela Lugosi. But I'm going to create further blasphemy here and say that for me Christopher Lee is without a doubt number 1, and being truthful I am more inclined to watch Nosferatu over the Browning version. It certainly isn't the best Universal horror, probably Frankenstein or the wolfman. However, I can't deny or take away its place in history and respect completely what it has done for horror.

I must note that you have inadvertently want to make me rewatch the Spanish version of the film. I think its in the Universal horror bd box isn't it. will have to have another go.

Scott
08-01-2013, 08:39 PM
Even though the Spanish version is better directed, Lugosi not only makes the original better but it's also creepier, something I can't quit put my finger on. I actually think it's staginess works in it's favor. Maybe it's just nostalgia talking.

I also wish we could transplant Lugosi into the Mexican EL VAMPIRO and it's sequel EL ATAUD DEL VAMPIRO. Germán Robles doesn't do it for me either. Not as goofy as Carlos Villarías but only a hair better.

I do quite like Julián Ugarte in MARK OF THE WOLFMAN.

Richard--W
08-01-2013, 09:42 PM
MARK OF THE WOLFMAN ? Wait ... my mind is playing catch-up -- which film is that?

Scott
08-01-2013, 10:53 PM
MARK OF THE WOLFMAN ? Wait ... my mind is playing catch-up -- which film is that?

FRANKENSTEIN'S BLOODY TERROR, the first Paul Naschy werewolf flick. This is the Dracula-esque vampire guy I'm talking about:

http://i137.photobucket.com/albums/q217/Taliesin_ttlg/frank%20b%20t/frankensteinsbloodyterror_awaken.jpg

http://s3.amazonaws.com/auteurs_production/images/film/frankensteins-bloody-terror/w448/frankensteins-bloody-terror.jpg

http://horrorunlimited.com/images/D/La%20Marca%20del%20Hombre%20Lobo%20-%20German%20FoH%2008.jpg

Scott
08-01-2013, 11:03 PM
But yeah, Spanish Dracula sure would be great if Dracula was in it.

Zane C.
08-02-2013, 01:35 AM
Some people think Tod Browning's distress over Lon Chaney's death affected his direction of Dracula (1931). I wouldn't know about that, but when the Spanish crew under George Melford and Enrique Tovar Ávalos shot their alternate version at night, they not only replicated every one of Browning's scenes, they deliberated the scenes much further than Browning did, and shot additional scenes that Browning discarded. Spanish Dracula has twice as many camera setups -- some of them delightfully creepy -- more special effects and lasts 29 minutes longer. The only thing the Spanish version doesn't do better is Dracula himself. Carlos Villarías does fine, but he's nothing special. In a perfect world, Bela Lugosi's electrifying presence and defining performance would grace the Spanish version as well.

It is true that Spanish Dracula builds on Browning's Dracula and couldn't exist without it.

Which version do you prefer? Which version tells the story better? In which version is the script better realized?

The Lugosi version all the way for me as well. While the Spanish version is technically superior, it's all about the guy playing Dracula - and Lugosi is THE Dracula, followed closely by Christopher Lee, who almost edges Lugosi out. In my humble opinion, however, Lugosi is the definitive Dracula, and he elevates an otherwise pedestrian film to greatness.

The gentleman playing Dracula in the Spanish version (Carlos Villarias?) does a satisfactory job I suppose, but he doesn't have a tenth of the charisma and presence that Lugosi does. And THAT makes an otherwise solid, technically more proficient film, and drops it a few notches, on the strength of the lead alone.

Just my opinion, though.

You know, this thread is prompting me to break out the Jack Palance and Denholm Elliott versions of Dracula. I'm curious to rank the other versions now!

ETA: Now that I think of it, the "Dwight Frye" factor comes into play here as well. Frye's Renfield is great in Browning's version. He also adds to the proceedings nicely with his nutty rendition of the character!

Richard--W
09-19-2013, 11:24 PM
I've been watching the restoration of Tod Browning's DRACULA. The film used to look flat and blown out, but the blu-ray transfer recovers the detail, contouring and subtleties in Karl Freund's photography. The black levels are very black indeed. Once again I'm knocked out by Lugosi's performance; apart from the menace, there is dignity and pride in his Count, a regalness that is Lugosi's own.

Lugosi's Count Dracula is royalty in exile.

The best likeness of him in character is at the Hollywood Wax Museum in Hollywood; other branches have a wax figure, but the one in Hollywood is the absolute best, being made from a life-mask late in his life. I don't have a picture of that, but here are a couple of others:

7994

http://i1035.photobucket.com/albums/a432/Richard--W/waxDracula-2_zpscdbc79d8.jpg

http://i1035.photobucket.com/albums/a432/Richard--W/waxDracula-4_zps1f7c1e18.jpg

http://i1035.photobucket.com/albums/a432/Richard--W/waxDracula-b_zps5557581e.jpg

Richard--W
09-20-2013, 12:46 AM
7995

Lugosi in 1942, publicity photo for the revived play Dracula.

Richard--W
09-20-2013, 01:10 AM
In 19th century theater actors were taught to strike flamboyant postures that would express character in certain situations to the back row. The practice has long since been abandoned, but actors trained in the 19th century style carried the idea over into silent films. Lugosi's performance as Dracula consists in part of a number of postures that must have been very striking in the theater. He must have toned these postures down for the film, but this is one of my favorites:

7996

Richard--W
09-20-2013, 01:28 AM
In this publicity still for the 1951 stage revival an older Lugosi asserts his claim on the role in this curtain call pose at the end of the play:

7997

Wouldn't you cheer Lugosi, if you saw him do this at the end of the play?

Richard--W
09-20-2013, 01:45 AM
7998

This 1928 window card for Ford's Theater in Baltimore, MD is from the same promotional material used for the Broadway play in which Lugosi starred for two years.

Ian Jane
09-20-2013, 08:55 AM
Some nice archival stuff there, Richard.

This is one of those movies that I saw at a young age on TV and which made an impression on me. Not quite as strong an impression as the Frankenstein movies but they're definitely a big part of the reason that I love monster movies and horror films so much. I really love Bela in this role.

Horace Cordier
09-20-2013, 12:15 PM
Some nice archival stuff there, Richard.

This is one of those movies that I saw at a young age on TV and which made an impression on me. Not quite as strong an impression as the Frankenstein movies but they're definitely a big part of the reason that I love monster movies and horror films so much. I really love Bela in this role.

Nice Richard.

I love Bela too - and having just watched him in THE DEVIL BAT I think he was a better actor than often given credit for. He had terrific natural charisma and often great comic timing. His most limiting factor unfortunately was his accent.

I have a feeling he would have been marvelous on stage as Dracula. Have any period reviews been archived online? Richard?

Richard--W
09-22-2013, 12:16 AM
I don't know if any period reviews have been archived online. I wish the whole history of the play and its primary sources were archived online.

Bela's personal scrapbooks of reviews went up for auction earlier this year. One of those scrapbooks covered two years of Dracula on stage. There's no way of knowing who bought it.

Koukol
09-22-2013, 12:50 AM
Bela's hand gestures are phenomenal...something no other vampire film tried to replicate.

Ian Jane
11-14-2016, 09:49 AM
Lupita Tovar Dies: Mexican-American Actress Who Starred In Spanish-Language Version Of ‘Dracula’ Was 106 (http://deadline.com/2016/11/lupita-tovar-dracula-mexican-american-actress-1201853740/)

Alison Jane
11-14-2016, 11:27 AM
And you decided to share that info via a thread that deemed her films less popular? :haha:

JoeS
12-01-2018, 05:10 PM
Finally caught up with it.

First things first. I give full credit to Director Medford and his cast and crew for the effort. They could easily have just 'mailed this in' and did a quickie shot for shot alternate version - but, they clearly didn't. They not only gave it their all, but, they put their own emphasis and spin on the proceedings.

Second, no, this isn't a 'better' version as many revisionists would have it. Sure, some of the camera movement is refreshing compared to the largely static Browning edition. And, it's good to see a fuller edit of the original screenplay/play adaptation (a 29 minute additional runtime!). But, the Lugosi version is better if for no other reason than.........LUGOSI! Carlos Villarias had a decent career in Mexican cinema, but, there's a reason that Lugosi, limited as he was in certain ways, is still a legend. You can't teach charisma. Bela had it, Carlos didn't. More importanly, much of that extra screentime is given over to long-winded explanations, slow line reading and the actors staring at one another. If one were to ruthlessly take a stopwatch to it, I doubt there is more than 10 to 15 minutes of truly 'new' material.

Other than Villarias (and, the stolid Eduardo Arozamena as Van Helsing), the Spanish cast holds up reasonably well. Pablo Álvarez Rubio may not quite equal Dwight Frye as Renfield, but, it's a more than worthy alternate performance. The actresses give their roles a bit more vigor than their English speaking counterparts. Medford's Direction is good, but, he does have a pacing problem. The Browning version is much better edited than the Spanish version. Much.

All in all, 'Spanish' DRACULA is a worthy restoration. It would have been a shame had it disintigrated into history. But, the revisionists have it wrong. The Browning-Lugosi is still the definitive version of the count from that era.