This is the first screen version of Bram Stoker’s famous tale based on the smash hit stage production. Count Dracula (Bela Lugosi) arrives in London and immediately works to enrapture and transform into vampires young Lucy Weston (Frances Dade) and her friend Mina Seward (Helen Chandler). After he succeeds in turning Lucy, and Mina’s health suddenly deteriorates, Mina’s father (Herbert Bunston), calls in a specialist, Professor Abraham Van Helsing (Edward Van Sloan). Van Helsing quickly recognizes Dracula’s vampirism, and sets about saving Mina (and in the process, becomes Dracula’s archenemy). The film, arguably the most influential of the legend’s film versions, launched Lugosi’s career in horror movies and forever invited vampires across Hollywood’s threshold, spawning many sequels and variations.
Tod Browning (12 July 1880 – 6 October 1962) was an American motion picture actor, director and screenwriter.
Browning’s career spanned the silent and talkie eras. Best-known as the director of Dracula (1931 in film), the cult classic Freaks (1932 in film), and classic silent film collaborations with Lon Chaney, Sr., Browning directed many movies in a wide range of genres.
He was born Charles Albert Browning, Jr., in Louisville, Kentucky, the second son of Charles Albert and Lydia Browning, and the nephew of baseball star Pete Browning. As a young boy, he put on amateur plays in his backyard. He was fascinated by the circus and carnival life, and at the age of 16 he ran away from his well-to-do family to become a performer.
Changing his name to “Tod”, he traveled extensively with sideshows, carnivals, and circuses. His jobs included working as a talker (barker, as the term is also known, isn’t correct) for the Wild Man of Borneo, performing a live… read more
Karl W. Freund, A.S.C. (January 16, 1890-May 3, 1969) was an Oscar-winning German cinematographer and film director.
Born in Königinhof, Bohemia, his career began in 1905 when, at age 15, he got a job as an assistant projectionist for a film company in Berlin.
He worked as a cinematographer on over 100 films, including the German Expressionist films The Golem (1920), The Last Laugh (1924) and Metropolis (1927). Freund emigrated to the United States in 1929 where he continued to shoot well-remembered films such as Dracula (1931) and Key Largo (1948). He won an Academy Award for Best Cinematography for The Good Earth (1937). In 1937, he went to Germany to bring his only daughter, Gerda Maria Freund, back to the United States, saving her from almost certain death in the concentration camps. Karl’s ex-wife, Susette Freund, remained in Germany where she was interned at the Ravensbrück and eventually taken in March, 1942… read more
It's not Browning's fault, but the hiss is very distracting in this film, particularly in the scenes in Dracula's castle, which are meant to be atmospheric. It's a little slow at times, and feels a little awkward(probably should have been a silent film), but it looks great, and no doubt was highly influential and important for the genre. Definitely worth a look
From the special features on the Legacy Collection set I learned that because of budget constraints this was based more on the Broadway play in which Bela Lugosi had starred than a lavish and long… read review