In the early days of sound, it was common for Hollywood studios to produce Hollywood foreign-language versions of their films (usually in French, Spanish and German) using the same sets, costumes and etc. Unfortunately, most of these foreign language versions no longer exist. The Spanish version of Dracula is an exception. In recent years this version has become more highly praised by some than the English language version. The Spanish crew had the advantage of watching the dailies from the English crew's version when they came in for the evening and they would figure out better camera angles and more effective use of lighting in an attempt to "top" it. As a result, this version's supporters consider it to be much more artistically effective.Written by
When this film was released on DVD in 2004 as part of the "Dracula: Legacy Collection", it included closed captions for the hearing impaired, but did not contain the straight English subtitles. Universal answered buyers' complaints by telling them to simply select the "closed captions". See more »
The three brides of Dracula that are seen in the catacombs are not the three that set upon Renfield. The catacombs shot was stock footage from Dracula, and thus the three actresses playing the brides are different. See more »
Spanish-language version of Dracula filmed at the same time as the English-language version. While Tod Browning directed that one during the day, George Melford would direct this one at night using the same script and sets. Many consider this to be the superior version of the two, at least from a directing perspective. This film has a more polished look in most scenes than its English-language counterpart. The direction isn't as stiff or stagey as it often is with Tod Browning's Dracula. To be fair, however, director George Melford had the benefit of watching Browning's footage so he had a template with which to work and improve upon. This version is also longer by almost half an hour. There are no added scenes but each scene plays out longer with added dialogue. Often it's just a case of an extra shot or two per scene, with Melford taking his time and building tension. The added length is good and bad . Good because it allows for scenes to play out properly without feeling rushed, as sometimes was the case with Browning's film. Bad because the added time is mostly added dialogue, which makes the long stretches with little action seem interminable. There are also more sound effects in this one as well as bits of music. It helps things considerably, especially in the creepy castle scenes.
The ultimate shortcoming with the Spanish version of Dracula is the cast, particularly the lead actor. Bela Lugosi, for all his hamminess, was an undeniably menacing presence in his film. Comical-looking Carlos Villarías seems a poor imitation, with his constant crazy eyes and goofy smile. It's hard to take him seriously, let alone find him a threatening or alluring character. Pablo Álvarez Rubio is good and probably a better actor than Dwight Frye, but somehow his Renfield is less memorable in comparison to Frye's over-the-top performance. Eduardo Arozamena is decent as Van Helsing but he lacks Edward Van Sloan's screen presence. The guy looks like Eugene Levy! The only solid improvements in the cast are in the romantic pair of Juan and Eva (John and Mina in the other). Barry Norton is a more grounded actor than the theatrically-inclined David Manners. Lupita Tovar is much sexier and livelier than Helen Chandler's pallid Mina.
It's certainly a great movie and not just a curio. Stronger in some ways than Browning's Dracula but weaker in others. I would say they're both about even, with a slight edge to the Browning version simply because of the iconic performances of Lugosi, Van Sloan, and Frye.
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