Sunday, September 10, 2017
52 Days to Halloween - Dracula ('79) & Phantom of the Opera (1943)
While I think Langella is a striking Count Dracula and Kate Nelligan as Lucy (Mina isn't the focal point as in other adaptations), Olivier as a feeble Van Helsing in the casting baffled me. Donald Pleasance as an odd Dr. Jack Seward tickled my funny bone but it is a different route to take the character. Langella climbing up the wall is my favorite moment in this film. There's plenty of crucifix in the face. Langella here might help salve the rather wholly unpleasant naked chase in Adrian Lynn's Lolita. You can just see the confidence and swagger Langella has in the title role. I dug this one scene where Lucy has her fiance all to herself and is about to take a bite...when she goes into full seductive vamp mode. The gown and her seductress change in behavior thanks to Dracula's influence is quite alluring. Dracula and Van Helsing's major confrontation is no Lugosi/Van Sloan. Langella enters every scene full of command and presence. I like him in the role. Mina, all ghoulish, confronting her "papa", Van Helsing, is chilling. Dracula snapping Renfield's neck as the staff at Seward's fail to listen to his pleas of being in danger also is a highlight, I think.
I do think Universal's sparing no expense for Phantom of the Opera gives it the sumptuous look. Art direction, costumes, sets are all incredible. All the opera and emphasis on Susanna Foster and Nelson Eddy performing in the Paris Opera gets more interest than Claude Rains who was still being billed underneath when he was the class of the cast. Rains rarely was given the star treatment, even as the titular character of this film. He makes for a very sympathetic character, driven mad by a bum hand that has robbed him of the ability to play the violin, acid-burned in the face when choking a crook taking credit for his composition, and taking a new home in the sewers under the Paris Opera House. The love triangle between Foster, Eddy and cop Edgar Barrier even gets a bit more considerable interest than Rains. So this undermines Rains in securing similar rub as Chaney.
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Dracula's Daughter ('36)
Blood of Dracula's Castle (1969)
Mad Love 1935
Doctor Gogol: Did you ever hear of Galatea?
Lavin - Waxworks Proprietor: Gala - who? Not wanting a statue of him, are you?
Doctor Gogol: I don't want a statue of Galatea. You see, she was a statue herself. Pygmalion formed her. Out of marble, not wax. And then she came to life in his arms.
Lavin - Waxworks Proprietor: [calling to his assistant] Start the motor, Henry. There's queer people on the streets of Montmartre at this time of night.
Doctor Gogol: [handing him his card] Here, a hundred francs if you deliver the statue to my house.
Lavin - Waxworks Proprietor: [reading card] It's a go, Dr. Go... gol. First thing in the morning.