Bela Lugosi
Director: Tod Browning Cast: Bela Lugosi
Bela Lugosi
, Helen Chandler
Helen Chandler
, David Manners
David Manners
Tod Browning


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"I am....Drac-u-la. I bid you velcome." Thus does Bela Lugosi declare his presence in the 1931 screen version of Bram Stoker's Dracula. Director Tod Browning invests most of his mood and atmosphere in the first two reels, which were based on the original Stoker novel; the rest of the film is a more stagebound translation of the popular stage play by John Balderston and Hamilton Deane. Even so, the electric tension between the elegant Dracula and the vampire hunter Professor Van Helsing (Edward Van Sloan) works as well on the screen as it did on the stage. And it's hard to forget such moments as the lustful gleam in the eyes of Mina Harker (Helen Chandler) as she succumbs to the will of Dracula, or the omnipresent insane giggle of the fly-eating Renfield (Dwight Frye). Despite the static nature of the final scenes, Dracula is a classic among horror films, with Bela Lugosi giving the performance of a lifetime as the erudite Count (both Lugosi and co-star Frye would forever after be typecast as a result of this film, which had unfortunate consequences for both men's careers). Compare this Dracula to the simultaneously filmed Spanish-language version, which makes up for the absence of Lugosi with a stronger sense of visual dynamics in the lengthy dialogue sequences. In 1999, a special rerelease of Dracula was prepared featuring a new musical score written by Philip Glass and performed by The Kronos Quartet.

Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble - Monica McIntyre

Though the vampire legend has successfully seeped into all corners of modern media (from PBS's Sesame Street to prime time's Buffy the Vampire Slayer), few bloodsuckers remain as recognizable or creepy as Bela Lugosi in Tod Browning's Dracula. One of the crown jewels in Universal's marvelous cycle of horror films from the 1930s, this classic stars Lugosi as the dapper vampire from Transylvania biting his way by night to immortality. Having played this role in Hamilton Deane and John Balderston's Broadway stage adaptation of the Bram Stoker novel, the Hungarian-born Lugosi was the obvious choice for this 1931 film, especially since Browning's longtime collaborator, Lon Chaney, had recently died. The story is familiar: Dracula and the mad Renfield (Dwight Frye) travel to London and clash with the forces of reason and respectability, especially Professor Van Helsing (Edward Van Sloan). But despite Browning's exquisite, expressionistic mise-en-scène, Lugosi steals the show. The film made him a huge star, and filmmakers quickly typecast him due to his convincing, trancelike mannerisms.

All Movie Guide - Dan Jardine

Tod Browning's Dracula (1931) has made the most lasting impression of all versions of the Bram Stoker classic, although it was neither the first version (there were numerous silent-movie vampire tales) nor, for many viewers, the best version (many aficionados cite F.W. Murnau's 1922 Nosferatu). There are at least three reasons for the film's lasting importance. First, the opening sequences in the foothills of the Carpathians, and the subsequent set-up shots in Dracula's castle, are rendered in classic German Expressionist style by cinematographer Karl Freund, establishing a Gothic creepiness and tangibly dark and perverse tone that stick with the audience long after the setting shifts to England. The success of these atmospheric shots would influence horror filmmakers for decades to come. Second, Bela Lugosi's interpretation of Dracula would define the role. His suave, faded gentry style and unusually cadenced line deliveries would become the touchstone for many imitators. Lugosi gives his character just a hint of the sexual carnivore in his pursuit of the pretty maidens of England, themes that Werner Herzog and Francis Ford Coppola would develop more fully several decades later. Freund played a key role in defining Lugosi's sinister character by shining tiny pinpricks of light into his eyes, giving them an eerily otherworldly, penetrating quality. Third, the set designs are outstanding, from Dracula's Transylvanian castle to the London insane asylum housing Renfield, giving the film a perfectly Gothic horror quality. The film's second half deteriorates into a drawing-room drama, with too much chat and not enough horror. However, there is little doubt that the film's opening act, with its brilliant sets and stunning camerawork, together with Lugosi's elegantly sinister performance, make Dracula a memorable and influential classic.

Product Details

Release Date: 09/17/2013
UPC: 0025192189814
Original Release: 1931
Source: Universal Studios
Time: 1:15:00
Sales rank: 19,610

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