“DRACULA” 1931 BEST SEEN ON BIG SCREEN
You miss a lot of the Bela Lugosi Universal classic “Dracula” on TV, including details in the costumes, sets and props. It becomes abundantly clear that Dwight Frye as Renfield steals every scene he is in. Seeing it last night at the AMC on the huge screen was a big treat.
Some plot essentials I missed on the TV showing included Lucy becoming a vampire and killing children. Also the importance of Dr. Seward, who runs the sanitarium where Renfield is housed, is magnified and I will see the play “Dr. Seward’s Dracula” this week at the college across the street.
The VHS tape has the advantage of bridging the boredom gap with the Philip Glass music that fits the film’s mood. The version shown at the Fathom TCM movie theater event had minimal music. “Frankenstein” and “Bride of Frankenstein” have better scripts and are considered “art.”
“Dracula” looks like the stage play that it was originally.
The event included the Spanish language version shown in Latin America and made on the same set as the Lugosi version but with different actors. The Spanish version provides more background, including Renfield’s admission that he wanted to atone for killing people when he became a vampire, so Van Helsing runs a stake through him.
Frye recreated that character in many other 30s movies and is seen as a gay hair stylist in Grand National’s “Something to Sing About,” an expensive musical with James Cagney that bankrupted the studio. Frye is over the top in Majestic Studio’s “Vampire Bat” as a demented character with Faye Wray and Melvin Douglas.