With Hallowe'en not that far away, I'm in the mood to watch some horror flicks.  Since I have the six Universal Legacy collections for Dracula, Frankenstein, the Mummy, the Invisible Man, the Wolf Man and the Creature from the Black Lagoon, I decided to have a look at them all again. However, instead of just plowing through each one individually, I'm going to watch them all in the order in which they were released, at least as best as I can determine they were.

 

I'll begin with:  Dracula!

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Dracula (1931), Spanish-Language version:

Released: 1931.

Directed by George Melford (through an interpreter, he didn't speak Spanish)

Starring Carlos Villar as Dracula, Lupita Tovar as Eva, Barry Norton (who, despite his name, was apparently an Argentine) as Juan Harker, Pablo Alvarez Rubio as Renfield, Eduardo Arozamena as Van Helsing, Jose Soriano Viosca as Seward, Carmen Guerrero as Lucia and Manuel Arbo as Martin.

 

1)This is sort ot like a weird parallel universe version of the English-language film, largely similar, but different in various ways. The script is a little bette, I think. We got more plot points explained and some backstory for Renfield, Van Helsing and Dracula. Some dialouge is different ( I mean, besides it being in another language), and different things are emphasized.  I fele as though the story is told a little better.

 

2)Villar is OK as Dracula, he occasionally looks somewhat worried, like he's afraid he might upset someone.  We do seem to see alot more shots of him getting out of the coffin.

 

3)Rubio is even more maniacal as Renfield - he makes Frye look almost sedate in comparison.

 

4)I notice there's alot more use of sound in this, doors creak and thump very loudly.  Dracula's dying groans are louder, longer and more vivid than in the English version.

 

5)I notice Eva's dressed a bit "sexier" than Mina in this one - she's still quite "pure", of course!

 

Overall:

An interesting film - well worth a look if you get a chance. I gather subtitling and dubbing had been invented by then, but there was a notion that it was "cheating" somehow.

 

 

This is sort ot like a weird parallel universe version of the English-language film, largely similar, but different in various ways.

Or maybe it's a sort of Life of Brian version of Dracula.  While Vlad was having his adventures in London, his cousin Armando had this going on in the Latin Quarter.  (Does London have a Latin Quarter? Oh, well ...)

The Baron:

"Dracula's dying groans are louder, longer and more vivid than in the English version."

If I'm not mistaken, they were removed completely from the Lugosi version, post-Code. They're back now... barely.

"I gather subtitling and dubbing had been invented by then, but there was a notion that it was "cheating" somehow."

Certainly subtitles. See silent films. It seems I read somewhere, they hadn't really figured out what would become standard for international audiences yet.  A number of films were done this way (although I couldn't tell you what the other ones were).  Apparently it fell out of favor rather quickly.

The crazy thing is, in some countries, the standard-- in some cases, possibly even to this day-- is to film "silent" and dub EVERYTHING afterwards.  That way, they can dub it in whatever language they want. Of course, you also get that "hollow", artificial  sound if they don't know what they're doing with dubbing in sound effects and such.

Oh, and coming next:  Frankenstein!

"Do you still want your monsters?"

"Of course I do!"

"Well here comes one of 'em NOW!"

: )

Frankenstein (1931):

Released: November 21st, 1931

Directed by James Whale

Starring Colin Clive as Frankenstein, Mae Clarke as Elizabeth, John Boles as Victor, Boris Karloff as the Monster, Edward Van Sloan as Waldman, Frederick Kerr as the Baron and Dwight Frye as Fritz.

 

1)The problem with going through these in chronological order is we get to my favorite Universal horror film so early in the process! Oh, well.

 

2)The bit with Van Sloan coming out to warn everyone seems funny, now - I gather they did actually get some jib for this subject matter back in the day.

 

3)Another picture with no music except at the beginning and the end.

 

4)Some great sets in this picture. Coupled with Strickfaden's wonderful gimmickry, it's really atmospheric.

 

5)"He's just waiting - waiting for a new life to come!"

 

6)Fritz was originally going to be mute, but I'm glad they changed that. Frye really plays him well as a vicious little bugger. I like the little bit of business where Fritz stops to adjust his sock while he's going up the stairs.

 

7)There are a few scenes in this that are hard to watch without thinking of Young Frankenstein - the brain-stealing scene is one. To be fair, the original picture always had some moments of dark horror in it to begin with.

 

8)Mae Clarke is probably best remembered for Jimmy Cagney pushing a grapefruit in her in - I think it was Public Enemy.

 

9)I'd forgotten the whole Victor/Elizabeth/Henry triangle. Poor ELlzabeth, she'd be better off without either of them.  Victor looks to me as though he should be off trying to cheat the Three Stooges out of an inheritance or something.

 

10)Van Sloan's OK in this, but not as good as he was as Van Helsing.

 

11)I suppose it never occurred to Fritz and Frankenstein to just not answer the door when the others showed up? they weren't going to batter their way into that palce.

 

12)"Crazy, am I? We'll see whether I'm crazy or not."  We sure will!

 

13)The "creation" scene is one of my favorite scenes in all of movies. "It's alive!"

 

14)"In the name of God - now I know what it feels like to be God!"  I never acutally heard that line until I got the DVD. It was edited out of every other print I'd ever seen of this picture.

 

15)Karloff really does an amazing job as the Monster. Having him back in and turn around when we first see him was a stroke of genius.  Pierce's monster make-up really helps, too.  Apparently, when they tested Lugosi for the part of the Monster, they had him wearing some kind of a fright wig, which was one of the things that turned Bela against taking the part. I gather that the business of crediting the Monster as "?" in the opening credits goes back to the 1823 stage play, which listed it that way in the program. Some good camera work in this, too - particularly the scenes at the end, where Frankenstein and the MOnste rlook at each other through the gears of the mill.

 

Overall:

This picture was always a great favorite of mine. I still think it's the best Universal horror picture.

 

Coming Next: The Mummy!

8)Mae Clarke is probably best remembered for Jimmy Cagney pushing a grapefruit in her in - I think it was Public Enemy.

Ummm ... I think you're missing a word.

This picture was always a great favorite of mine. I still think it's the best Universal horror picture.

I know you're not inviting a debate, but I have a mild preference for Bride.  Dr. Pretorius is a hoot.

"Face" was the missing word, yes.

I'll talk more about Bride when I come to it in a day or two, but the thing I didn't like about that picture was the little people - a little too cutesy for me.

 

Also - debate (preferably civilized) is always welcome!

The Baron:

"I'd forgotten the whole Victor/Elizabeth/Henry triangle. Poor ELlzabeth, she'd be better off without either of them.  Victor looks to me as though he should be off trying to cheat the Three Stooges out of an inheritance or something."

It's interesting how in the Hammer version, "Paul" was the much-older (allegedly) teacher, then collaborator, who then tried to protect Elisabeth (Victor's cousin engaged to marry Victor) from what was going on. At the end, he refuses to corroborate Victor's story to the police, resulting in Victor about to be executied for murder, while Paul & Elisabeth wind up together.

I recently did a story which started out as a tribute of sorts to that, only, among other things, I recast all the actors.

"Van Sloan's OK in this, but not as good as he was as Van Helsing."

His character has a tendency not to feature in most of the remakes, although, unless I'm mistaken, John Cleese played the equivalent part in the Coppola production!  (Or did I imagine that?)

""In the name of God - now I know what it feels like to be God!"  I never acutally heard that line until I got the DVD. It was edited out of every other print I'd ever seen of this picture."

I got the restored videotape in the 90's, with several missing scenes put back in, including that one, BUT, the sound for that line was still missing! (Or maybe it just fades out before it's over.)

"This picture was always a great favorite of mine. I still think it's the best Universal horror picture."

LOTS of great work in there.  Amazing to think James Whale was apparently brought in at a late point, after much pre-production work had already been done, so he was stuck with having to deal with a lot of other people's work, including a script that began life as an adaptation of the stage play, not the novel. I suppose it could be compared to what happened with Francis Ford Coppola & THE COTTON CLUB.  The general concensus is that Whale's skills seem many years ahead of just about anyone else working for Universal at the time. It's very sad (and frustrating) that Whale, like Lugosi, was mistreated or dismissed so badly by Universal in the long run.

Yeah, Cleese was in the Branagh/De Niro picture.  Cleese is one of the funniest guys of my lifetime, but he's also a damned fine dramatic actor when he wants to be.

While I have read DRACULA by Bram Stoker, I have yet to plow thru FRANKENSTEIN. My impression is the most faithful film adaptation was the one done in the mid-70's in some eastern-European country, on a shoestring budget.  Every other adaptation, typically, has played fast-and-loose, although, like DRACULA, some very interesting variations have resulted.  The most emotional (to the point of gut-wrenching in its tragedy) was the one by Dan Curtis.  You felt so much sympathy for the monster, and his creator was not really to blame for what happened, so they both ended up as victims.  Just made you wanna cry your eyes out by the time it was over.  (I saw it a few years ago.)

It's funny how (now that I think about it) the Hammer version combined the characters of "Victor" and "Dr. Waldman" from the Universal version.  One of the scenes cut for many years from the '31 film was the epilogue, where The Baron drinks to his son, who is recovering.  The scene almost seems at odds with the rest of the picture, and for decades was missing, giving the impression that Henry was killed at the end (which was followed up on in the sequel). I'm not sure when the last scene was cut, but if it had happened before the sequel, one might have imagined Elisabeth winding up with Victor.

"If you wanna get anything done in this country, you've gotta complain until you're blue in the face!"

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