Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Dracula (1931 movie)
Dracula was directed by Tod Browning, with a screenplay based on the stage play by John L. Balderston . The title role was played by Bela Lugosi. Also starring in the film were David Manners as Jonathan Harker, Helen Chandler as Mina Seward and Dwight Frye as Renfield.
The onset on the Great Depression caused a drastic reduction in the budget for the film, and several grand scenes that closely followed the Stoker storyline, had to be abandoned. It was considered less expensive to stage the film using Balderston's stage play as its basis. Lugosi's portrayal became the one by which he was most remembered and despite his earlier stage successes in a variety of roles, typecast him. The eerie speech pattern of Lugosi's "Dracula" was said to have resulted from the fact that Lugosi did not speak English, and therefore had to learn and speak his lines phonetically. Lugosi however was not the first choice to play the role. It had been intended as a vehicle for Lon Chaney but Chaney died before the project began.
The film was a great success, and newspapers reported that members of the audiences fainted in shock at the horror onscreen. This publicity, shrewdly orchestrated by the film studio, helped ensure people came to see the film, if for no other reason than curiosity.
A box office success in its day, which has come to be regarded as a classic of the era and of its genre, it has been selected for preservation by the National Film Registry.
A Spanish language version, Drácula (IMDB:tt0021815), directed by George Melford and starring Carlos Villarías , was produced contemporaneously with the English version, using the same stages, props, and equipment. Carl Laemmle Jr. was the producer of both versions. The Browning/Lugosi crew would work on the English language version during the day, and the Melford/Villarías crew would have the set in the evening.
Curiously, the Spanish version was more highly praised than the English version, which became more famous. The Spanish crew would watch the reels from the English crew's version when they came in for the evening. They would work out better camera angles and more effective use of lighting. As a result, when compared side-by-side, the Spanish version is much more artistically effective.
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