Dracula (1931) Poster



Although it was his most famous role, Bela Lugosi played Dracula only once more on screen, in the comedy Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein (1948). However, he played Dracula-like characters in movies such as The Return of the Vampire (1943).
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When Bela Lugosi died in 1956, he was buried wearing one of his many black silk capes, but not the one he wore in Dracula. That one was put on auction by his son, Bela Lugosi Jr. in 2011. The starting bid being set at $1,200,000, it failed to sell and so the cape is believed to still be in his son's possession. There is also a persisting, yet untrue, rumor that it was Lugosi's dying wish when, in fact, it was decided by his son and his mother, Lugosi's ex-wife, Lillian Arch.
There was no real musical soundtrack in the film because it was believed that, with sound being such a recent innovation in films, the audience would not accept hearing music in a scene if there was no explanation for it being there (e.g., the orchestra playing off camera when Dracula meets Mina at the theatre).
Dracula's castle was a painting on glass in front of the camera. The coach traveling along the road was real but the background was not.
Similar to the prologue in Frankenstein (1931), the original release featured an epilogue with Edward Van Sloan talking to the audience about what they have just seen. This was removed for the 1936 re-release and is now assumed to be lost.
A Spanish-language version, Drácula (1931), was filmed at night on the same set at the same time, with Spanish-speaking actors.
While it is rumored that Bela Lugosi, could not speak English very well, and had to learn his lines phonetically, this is not true. Lugosi was speaking English as well as he ever would by the time this was filmed.
Bela Lugosi was so eager to repeat his stage success and play the Count Dracula role for the film version, that he agreed to a contract paying him $500 per week for a seven week shooting schedule, an insultingly small amount even during the days of the Depression.
In the scene where Dracula and Renfield are traveling to London by boat, the footage shown is borrowed from a Universal silent film called The Storm Breaker (1925). Silent films were projected at a different frames-per-second speed from that later adopted for sound films, accounting for the jerky movements and quicker-than-normal action of these shots.
Cinematographer Karl Freund achieved the effect of Dracula's hypnotic stare by aiming two pencil-spot-lights into actor Bela Lugosi's eyes.
Although he lived for 67 years after the film was released, David Manners (John Harker) claimed he never watched it.
Among the living creatures we see in Dracula's castle in Transylvania are Opussums, Armadillos, and an insect known as a Jerusalem Cricket (Stenopalmatus Fuscus). This insect was common in Southern California, which may explain its cameo in the film.
Several famous elements often associated with Dracula are not visible in this film. At no point does Dracula display fangs. Also, the famous vampire bite mark on the neck is never shown either (though it is visible in the Spanish version).
The spider webs in Dracula's castle were created by shooting rubber cement from a rotary gun.
When she died on June 12, 2014 at the age of 104, Carla Laemmle was the last surviving cast member of this film.
The original Broadway production of "Dracula" starring Bela Lugosi opened at the Fulton Theater on October 5, 1927 and ran for 261 performances. Also in the original cast was Edward Van Sloan as Van Helsing and Herbert Bunston as Doctor Seward. These three were the only actors from the original 1927 Broadway production to repeat their roles in the film.
The large, expansive sets built for the Transylvania castle and Carfax Abbey sequences remained standing after filming was completed, and were used by Universal Pictures for many other movies for over a decade.
The opening music to this film is from Act 2 of Swan Lake.
The Royal Albert Hall sequence of the movie was filmed on the same stage where The Phantom of the Opera (1925) starring Lon Chaney had been filmed.
The peasants inside the inn are praying The Lord's Prayer in Hungarian.
In the first scene, the young woman reading from the tourist book was played by Carla Laemmle, niece of Carl Laemmle, founder and head of Universal Pictures.
The movie's line "Listen to them. Children of the night. What music they make." was voted as the #83 movie quote by the American Film Institute (out of 100).
After viewing the initial cut, Universal president Carl Laemmle Sr. reportedly said that the film gave him the "heebie-jeebies" and ordered that it be re-edited. Tod Browning was bitterly disappointed by the studio's 11th hour re-edit, and claimed that his best work ended up on the editing room floor. The re-cut apparently introduced a number of continuity errors into the film, which disappear when fans have re-edited the film to match the continuity of the shooting script. See "Dark Carnival: The Secret World of Tod Browning" by David J. Skal and discussion at monsterkidclassichorrorforum.yuku.com/topic/40203/DRACULA-Restored.
Universal's original plan was to make a big-budget adaptation of "Dracula" that would strictly adhere to the Bram Stoker novel. However, after the stock market crash of 1929 and the beginning of the Great Depression, Universal chose not to risk an investment on such a sprawling film. Instead, it adapted the much less expensive Hamilton Deane stage play.
Bette Davis (who had a contract at Universal at the time) was considered to play the part of Mina Harker. However, Universal head Carl Laemmle Jr. didn't think too highly of her sex appeal.
This was the sixth most popular movie at the U.S. box office for 1931.
When Universal purchased the rights to the 1927 Broadway play, Lon Chaney was considered for the title role. However, Chaney died on August 26, 1930, and the role went to Bela Lugosi. His son Lon Chaney Jr. would later play Count Alucard, the son of Count Dracula, in Son of Dracula (1943).
Before he was cast as Count Dracula, Bela Lugosi acted as an unpaid intermediary for Universal Pictures in negotiating with the widow of author Bram Stoker in an attempt to persuade her to lower her asking price for the filming rights to the Dracula property. After two months of negotiations, Mrs. Stoker reportedly lowered her price from $200,000 to $60,000. This, however, further demonstrated to Universal how eager Lugosi was to repeat his stage success as Count Dracula and secure the film role for himself.
Universal acquired the film rights to "Dracula" from Bram Stoker's widow and the play's writer Hamilton Deane for $40,000.
Edward Van Sloan and Dwight Frye also appeared in the horror classic Frankenstein (1931). They are the only 2 actors to have appeared in both films.
Some of the original prints of the film were tinted green to give it a more eerie look.
When Carl Laemmle moved Universal to California in 1914, a version of "Dracula" was one of the first projects being considered. It was over fifteen years before this version was produced.
Universal Studios commissioned a new musical score from composer Philip Glass. It premiered at The Brooklyn Academy of Music on 26 October 1999.
Richard Matheson claimed, in an interview with the Archive of American Television, to have conceived of his famous science fiction story 'I Am Legend' after viewing this film: "My mind drifted off, and I thought, 'If one vampire is scary, what if the whole world is full of vampires?'".
Due to studio demands to cut costs, the film was shot in sequence.
Apparently morose over the loss of friend and collaborator Lon Chaney and in the midst of severe alcoholism, the normally meticulous Tod Browning was said to have been sullen and unprofessional during the shoot. Among his actions were to leave set, leaving cinematographer Karl Freund to direct scenes. He would also recklessly tear pages out of the script if he felt them to be redundant.
This Universal production became the most famous and successful film to pair David Manners with Helen Chandler. The pair had made two films at Warner Brothers/First National and one at Fox.
Part of the original SHOCK THEATER package of 52 Universal titles released to television in 1957, followed a year later with SON OF SHOCK, which added 20 more features.
Bela Lugosi played the role of Dracula on Broadway in 1927 before touring the country with the show. The American performance of the British stage actor Hamilton Deane's adaptation of the book was a smashing success. Soon after the play began touring Universal started to express interest in the script.
The opera performed when Dracula first meets Dr Seward is Wagner's Overture to Die Meistersinger.
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Among the other actors mentioned as possible candidates for the role of Count Dracula were John Wray, Paul Muni, Conrad Veidt, Chester Morris, and William Courtenay.
The innkeeper says to Renfield in front of the inn, "The driver -- he is afraid -- Walpurgis Night." (0:02:55). This is a partly anglicized form of the German Walpurgis-nacht (the Eve of Saint Walpurgis), the evening of April 30, also known as May Eve (the eve of May Day). This night is one of several during the year in which supernatural beings of various kinds roam at large, according to the traditional superstitions of various regions.
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Originally, the film was intended to be made on a larger budget, with a story that followed the novel.
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John Carradine was among the actors considered for the title role. However, there is no corroborating evidence from that time period, only Carradine's own later testimony. He also claimed to have turned down a makeup test for the Monster in Frankenstein (1931), due to the absence of dialogue. This statement seems to have a greater bearing of truth, as the actor did indeed work at Universal in the late spring-early summer of 1931, on Heaven on Earth (1931).
After the death of Lon Chaney, one of the first actors considered for the title role was Ian Keith.
Included among the "1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die", edited by Steven Schneider.
The film is included on Roger Ebert's "Great Movies" list.
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Contrary to popular belief, This film does not contain the famous Organ Piece "Toccata and Fugue in D minor" The film that does contain the organ piece is "The Black Cat (1934)" Which also stars Bela Lugosi.
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The trivia items below may give away important plot points.

The studio did not want the scene where Dracula attacks Renfield to be filmed due to the perceived gay subtext of the situation. A memo was sent to the director stating "Dracula is only to attack women".
Throughout the movie, there's no scene where Dracula ever blinks. This was done to maintain Bela Lugosi's famous stare.
When this film was re-released after the Production Code was strictly enforced in 1934, several deletions were ordered made to the soundtrack. The deletions include Renfield's scream as he is being killed and Dracula's moan as the stake is driven through his heart. These deletions have been restored.
The shooting script features a scene not found in the film in which Van Helsing kills Lucy following her transformation into a vampire. In the scene, Van Helsing brings John into the graveyard to prove the existence of vampires. There, they witness Lucy walking into a mausoleum. After consoling John, Van Helsing pulls a parcel from his pocket and makes clear his intentions to follow Lucy and destroy her. At this point, the film was to have cut back to a scene of Dracula abducting Mina.

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