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Friday, January 05, 2007

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Larry from Illinois

Maybe Lon Chaney is the man of 1,000 faces, but, we only need one face to identify with Count Dracula. That is the face of Bela Lugosi. I say it was fate that made Bela the Count for the rest of his life and into mortality. I don't think that Lon Chaney would have been immortal. Lugosi "needed" to be Dracula to validate his existence on the face of the Earth. In other words, Bela was "born" to be Dracula and he took the role to his grave! Literally.

And, the crazed wide-eyed look and lunatic grin of Dwight Frye as Renfield also has made him immortal. In one's mind, we try to imitate that voice of an insane man emerging from the hold of the ship after experiencing the horror of his life -- and yet, even as we try to speak like Renfield, we can not make the words sound like his.

Edward Van Sloan is the benchmark of a scientific scholar of the era. He is continually evaluating the situation and strikes this writer of a man who would not hesitate to enter the tomb of a cursed mummy believing that no harm can come to him. Rather than argue and try to explain to disbelievers as Jonathan Harker as to why Mina has to be smeared with garlic and wolfbane, Sloan as Van Helsing merely gives "doctor's orders" to follow. Of course, the ignorant, not understanding, disobey - as usual - following the arrogant nature that the characters have in assuming that all is well and nothing can harm us - after all - we are British! The only really important thing in life is "Tea Time."

Hope you watch this film a number of times every year. Despite the filming budget, censors, and other obstacles, "Dracula 1931" remains a classic. I have read the stage play and believe that to film it as done on the stage would have produced a boring movie. Sorry, "Deane and Balderston."

Larry from Illinois

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