Friday, July 2, 2010
DRACULA:From Script to Screen
Dracula by Bram Stoker frequently vies with The Maltese Falcon by Dashiell Hammett as my favorite book. Both stories are archetypes of their genres and despite endless imitations, almost every attempt to emulate the originals falls wide of the margin. The current vogue for Twilight and its many imitations may be the worst misinterpretation of Stoker’s classic yet, despite its enviable success among pre-pubescent girls (and their emotional equals). The ignorance of most Twilight fans as to how their heroine earned her first name led me to revisit the seminal Universal Horror, Tod Browning’s Dracula (1931) starring Bela Lugosi in an iconic performance that did much to secure Stoker’s novel its hard-won place of acceptance as a literary classic.
The resulting film owed much to the stage plays which took the West End and Broadway by storm during the Roaring Twenties. Film historian David Skal has gifted the world with several excellent books and DVD bonus features and commentaries chronicling this once untapped goldmine’s transition from page to stage to screen. Film buff Philip J. Riley has done one better (actually twice better) by sharing with film lovers not one, but two volumes collecting the various story treatments and screenplay drafts that were languishing in Universal’s files for decades.
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