“DRACULA” (1931) Starring Bela Lugosi, Dwight Frye, Helen Chandler, David Manners, Edward Van Sloane. Directed by Tod Browning and an uncredited Karl Freund. Written by Garret Ford, from the play by Hamilton Deane and John L. Balderston, based on the novel by Bram Stoker. The first “official” film based on Stoker’s vampiric Count has atmosphere to spare in the opening reels with Frye’s Renfield visiting Dracula’s Transylvanian castle, but once it reaches dry English soil, it become a dry English drawing room play. This is somewhat predictable since the film takes as it’s primary source, not the groundbreaking epistolary novel, but the tepid stage adaptation by Deane & Balderston. The stage bound feel of the script is not compensated for by imaginative direction; as a matter of fact Tod Browning’s efforts seems particularly hampered in this effort as if he either was disinterested in the material or felt insecure with the primitive technical constraints of early talkies.
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