Like so many of the "horror" films of the 30's, The Raven cannot be judged by the standards of virtually any subsequent decade. Films like The Raven and its ilk have to be enjoyed on the own terms, like much of grand opera. Among other things, they preserve for us the last vestiges of 19th Century romantic style. This is particularly true of Bela Lugosi. A noted stage actor in his native Hungary, he continued to employ the acting technique and style he learned there, ignoring the increasingly naturalistic trends which came to Hollywood slowly in the 30's & 40's. In a way, he never left the stage: he never figured out the difference between stage and (sound) film acting. This is not to his detriment, exactly. The voice, the line-readings, the movement, were all superb, FOR THE STAGE, assuming a predominant classical. Contrast him with Karloff, who did relatively little stage work. He was a (sound) film actor from the start, and remains much more naturalistic, and therefore "believable" as a character, even in grotesque roles, than Lugosi ever was. In absolute terms, he was not "better" than Lugosi. Lugosi was "different". In the terms of his original training and experience he remained excellent. But his inability to adapt to changing standards doomed him like a dinosaur.
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