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Thread: Dracula (1958)

  1. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by Algar
    As Senior Curator (Fiction) at the BFI National Archive, I'd like answer the points raised over our work on DRACULA. The work undertaken by Warner Bros in the mid-1990s was not a restoration as such but simply the preparation of digital materials for a DVD release. The BFI has prepared new preservation materials on film from the original negative. The new version, incorporating the original UK title sequence, benefits from additional technical work that has been carried out on both picture and sound. Furthermore, we have reinstated a brief sequence which was cut from the UK release version by the BBFC. None of this is a secret and we are pleased to offer the film to UK audiences in as complete a form as is currently possible. You can see the film at the Cambridge Film Festival on July 8, and a theatrical and DVD release are planned for later this year.
    Welcome to Britmovie...it will make a nice change for someone with inside knowledge to help defend the BFI against some of the more outrageous accusations we sometimes get here....and I am glad (and saddened for them) that the Archive Action Group were off-beam on this one.

  2. #22
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    Flesh and blood

    From a figure of menace and parody to a New York junkie, Dracula has had many reincarnations. But it was the 1958 film starring Christopher Lee that first made him sexy, writes Matthew Sweet



    Saturday October 27, 2007

    The Guardian



    It's an autumn night in the 19th century. Halloween, possibly. Midnight, certainly. Old Gerda, with a reckless indulgence common to maidservants in horror films, has been persuaded to remove sheaves of frizzy garlic flowers from Lucy Holmwood's boudoir. Now the door is shut, the French windows are wide open to the garden, and Lucy is lying back on the four-poster, heaving under powder-blue chiffon, waiting for her demon lover to appear in that gaping space at the back of the shot. Nothing's there. No river of dry ice, no flapping bat prop - just brown leaves billowing, and the thrash-orchestral score kicking at us to pay attention. And suddenly - without the benefit of any effect that could be considered remotely special - there's Christopher Lee in a floor-length cape. All 6ft 4in of him, in a profession populated by tiny little Bogardes and Todds and Millses. His eyes are picked out with a key light by which Joan Crawford would have felt flattered. He strides into the room, and we all know what's coming next - the sex business with the fangs. Count Dracula needs blood - the undead have gotta live - but we know that there's more to it than that. But how do we know?



    Article continues

    Fifty years ago, in a cramped studio on the banks of the Thames in Berkshire, the director Terence Fisher called the shots on the Hammer version of Dracula. The original print has just been restored by the British Film Institute and is now ready to manifest itself again. Its colour palette, which always looked crude and garish on television, is now a rich mix of autumnal browns and priestly purples. Only the fake blood - which gathers inside Christopher Lee's vampire contact lenses, spurts from staked hearts and spatters inexplicably from the air - reads as improperly, unnaturally bright, like Kathleen Byron's tarty lipstick in Black Narcissus



    Fisher's Dracula was shot in 25 days at a cost of �81,413. For Hammer, this was lavish. Some directors had to manage on a fifth of that. The company was still reeling from the success of The Curse of Frankenstein, a shocked-up version of the Mary Shelley story with a focus on scalpel edges, jellied brains and charnel-house comedy. Bram Stoker's Dracula was next on the slab, and the publicity dope let the audience in on the angle. The posters were in black and white, with a trickle of red ink superimposed at the corners of Christopher Lee's mouth. He was "the terrifying lover who died ... yet lived!" Every night, the tagline screamed, "he rises from his coffin-bed - silently to seek the soft flesh, the warm blood he needs to keep himself alive".



    In 1958, that wasn't the obvious way to sell a vampire. It certainly wasn't obvious to the marketing department of Universal-International, which handled the film in the States. When the film opened in America, snitty letters and telegrams ping-ponged over the Atlantic. "I don't like the advertising I have seen put out by your New York office which is along the lines of the old Dracula pictures with Bela Lugosi," complained Michael Carreras, the film's executive producer. "Our Dracula is handsome and sexy ... His victims are young attractive women. The campaign in London is on horror sex lines and I would be grateful if you would re-examine." They did.



    Half a century later, the link between eroticism and vampirism has been so thoroughly naturalised that it would be impossible to make the same mistake. For most readers, meeting the title character of Bram Stoker's book is usually as much of a surprise as it is for Jonathan Harker, the Victorian estate agent who gets it in the neck in the story's first strophe. In his diary, Harker notes that the Count is "a tall old man, clean shaven save for a long white moustache". He has "peculiarly arched nostrils" and a "lofty domed forehead". The diary records that Dracula's "eyebrows were very massive, almost meeting over the nose, and with bushy hair that seemed to curl in its own profusion". Hammer's Lucy Holmwood wouldn't have opened her French windows for this rancid specimen; she'd have kicked him out of bed.



    In 1958, Fisher, Carreras and Lee were all tussling with Dracula's image problem: how to recuperate the vampire as a figure of menace, how to reclaim him from parody. Just six years before, Bela Lugosi had come to Britain, crooked-backed and methadone-fuddled, to lurch out of his coffin twice nightly in a touring stage version of the Stoker story. His co-star was an unreliable mechanical bat. The show did respectable business, but it certainly wasn't the comeback for which Lugosi had hoped. When the run came to an end, the actor remained in the country to go through his cackle-and-grimace act as the villain of a cheap little comedy called Mother Riley Meets the Vampire. Arthur Lucan was the star - a tottering music-hall turn who dragged up as an Irish washerwoman and shrieked things like, "I am a woman and I defy you to prove it!" And between hits of opioid, administered by his wife Lillian, Lugosi sent a lumbering robot to force-feed Mother Riley "liver ... with the blood running out of it" for breakfast, lunch, dinner, tea and elevenses. It'd be safe to say that nobody in the audience was aroused.



    When he wore the cape for the first time, Lugosi was a looker. He was also a Hungarian and a romantic and a political revolutionary. In 1919, he'd been a founding member of the actors' union established during the brief life of Bela Kun's Hungarian Soviet Republic. Though he'd been resident in America for more than a decade when Universal invited him to be fitted for a pair of vampire dentures, Lugosi's English was so poor that he learned the part phonetically. But the oddness of his inflection patterns is what made his Dracula one of the great screen performances. Lugosi sang his dialogue as if it were an aria from an Erkel Ferenc opera. When he stands in a cobweb-smothered castle and implores his Jonathan Harker to listen to the music of the "cheeldreen of the naaight", you believe that he considers wolf howls to be a species of coloratura - and that he's singing from the same score sheet. "I ... am ... Draa-cu-laaa!" he yodels. "I bid you ... wel-come!"



    Christopher Lee, by comparison, is telegraphically brisk. "I am Dracula and I welcome you to my house." He has only 13 lines in the entire picture, and they are all delivered just as snappily. Where Lugosi postures and glides, Lee is rough and muscular. He descends the staircase of his castle at such a lick that he might as well have slid down the curlicued banister. He yanks his vampire bride across the marble floor of the castle with amazing ferocity. (If it had not been for the censor, who blue-pencilled the notion at the script stage, she would have been hurled by the hair.) His face-off with his nemesis, the vampire-staker Professor Van Helsing - played with razor seriousness by Peter Cushing - isn't an altercation between gentlemen, it's a bar-room brawl, resolved when Cushing slams a pair of candlesticks together and uses the cruciform shadow to drive the vampire into a killing cascade of sunbeams. Dracula falls to pieces, reduced to dust and bones. And at this moment we return to Arthur and Mina - the husband and wife whose marriage we've just seen threatened by vampiric adultery - and we're reminded what brought Dracula to their house in the first place. Soft flesh. Warm blood. Those things that the poster insisted were a vampire's principal reasons for getting out of his coffin-bed.



    There's an innovation in Jimmy Sangster's screenplay that helps to conjure this new, sexualised version of Dracula into being: he sets the story in the Victorian past. Like Sherlock Holmes, Dracula took a while to be reconfigured in the popular imagination as a historical character. Lugosi's career as a vampire had been conducted almost entirely in contemporary 20th-century settings - a Hollywood version of present-day London in the 1931 Dracula, the same city in wartime in The Return of the Vampire, made in 1944. Returning the events of the story to the period of its writing turned it into a fight between Victorians and vampires. It made Dracula into the enemy of some outmoded form of sexual morality. And for an audience in the late 1950s, that was a battle worth watching. "Sex and death in equal proportions," writes Hammerologist Sinclair McKay, "and particularly barely repressed sexuality in a Victorian setting, was the real winning formula."



    Spool back six years, and you'll find Terence Fisher worrying at similar themes. Right at the beginning of his career with Hammer, he made The Last Page, a sleazy little B-flick about blackmail in a bookshop in a bomb-scarred patch of Holborn. Its star was Diana Dors, who, to an audience in 1952, meant one thing: a specifically postwar kind of voracious sexuality. She was the sort of girl over whom George Orwell had fretted in his essay "Decline of the English Murder" - the sort who'd spent too much time at the Locarno with a GI on each arm, and had learned more from them than how to blow bubblegum and speak with a transatlantic twang. In The Last Page, Dors is a bookshop assistant who's full of desires that the men of postwar Britain seem unable to meet. She wants to go to clubs, and drink gin and orange, and eat big steaks with plenty of onions. So she claims that her boss has tried to rape her, and pumps him for a fat envelope of used oncers. The film suggests that, in postwar Britain, you didn't get anything nice without doing something dirty. The origins of Dors's corruption seem to lie somewhere across the Atlantic. The women in Hammer's Dracula are visited from the east, rather than the west. But one bite from Christopher Lee, and they suddenly know what it is to have a good time - and they're making eyes like Diana Dors on the prowl.



    And this is the reason why Dracula keeps haunting the cinema: he'll be anything you desire. In 1974, Paul Morrissey turned him into a New York blood-junkie, in a film backed by Andy Warhol. In 1992, Francis Ford Coppola turned him into a personification of fears about the exchange of bodily fluids - just at the point when Aids was all over the media. Hammer, though, gave him his most successful make-over, as a harbinger of the permissive society, which was already looming on the horizon when Christopher Lee began raiding women's bedrooms.



    Hammer's most powerful influence, however, has probably been on English departments in British and American universities. Dracula studies first emerged as a serious discipline in the late 1960s, and soon established the parameters of its interest. As the critic Robert Mighall has argued in his book Mapping History's Nightmares, this kind of Freud-slaked, programmatically anti-Victorian criticism proposed that "the vampire is monstrous not because it is a supernatural being which threatens to suck the protagonists' blood and damn their souls, but because at some 'deeper level' it symbolises an erotic threat". So, Mighall contends, a book that contains no obvious allusions to sex - apart from one use of the word "voluptuous" - has been used to prove how much energy the Victorians invested in their programme to police sex into silence. And the more the book refuses to cough up an explicit coupling between its title character and the erotic impulse, the more it is used as evidence for the prissy severity of the culture that produced it. In the words of one critic, Dracula represents "the great submerged force of Victorian libido breaking out to punish the repressive society which had imprisoned it". Lee's performance convinced a generation of scholars that Dracula was a book about sex, and not about vampires.



    When those words were published in the early 1970s, Christopher Lee was having one last hurrah in the cloak and fangs. Hammer, looking for new ways to revive flagging public interest in fanged Transylvanians, had transplanted Dracula to the fag end of swinging London, where he hung out with a gang of hippie bikers - slaves of the dark side, of pot and of their taste in afghan casualwear. The provisional title for one of these pictures was Dracula is Dead and Well and Living in London. Twentieth-century London, of course. The place where he had really been born.



    � There will be a special Halloween screening of Dracula at BFI IMAX on October 31, then it runs at the National Film Theatre, London SE1, from November 2 to 15. Box office: 020 7928 3232.







  3. #23
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    Was the 1958 Hammer version of Dracula ever shown with it's Original UK title of Dracula ? apart from being shown in the cinema that is.





    The DVD and the VHS versions carried the film's US Horror of Dracula title.

  4. #24
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    That's an interesting one, as I always thought of it as Dracula, but remember that the film was one of the Hammers which very rarely showed up during the seventies and eighties, when I was getting into this sort of thing, until it finally got a VHS release. At this point, it seems to have reverted to the American title.

  5. #25
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    Up to now all dvd's and vhs versions, NTSC and PAL, have the US title design (Horror of Dracula) as all masters were done in the US by Warner Bros. When the Warner/BFI restoration eventually arrives on home video it should have the traditional decorative British 'Dracula' logo reinstated.

  6. #26
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    I was going through my collection of old tv recordings (as you do ) and came up with a 10 year old (at least) BBC recording of Dracula with it's Original proper title attached,the letter "D" was done like a symbol and was very much impressed with this as a title than with Horror of Dracula"



    Although it is missing (like most video versions have been but restored for dvd) the Jonathan Harker staking.

  7. #27
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    Quote Originally Posted by Amethyst_Isle
    I was going through my collection of old tv recordings (as you do ) and came up with a 10 year old (at least) BBC recording of Dracula with it's Original proper title attached,the letter "D" was done like a symbol and was very much impressed with this as a title than with Horror of Dracula"



    Although it is missing (like most video versions have been but restored for dvd) the Jonathan Harker staking.
    That BBC broadcast was obviously a master prepared in the UK.



    As far as I know, correct me if I am wrong, Harker's staking was not shot and the way you see it is the way it was intended. I have never heard anything to the contrary, although I would like to know where you got that information.

    Are you referring to the Lucy staking which was always longer on the US version than the UK?

  8. #28
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    Quote Originally Posted by Stephen Pickard
    That BBC broadcast was obviously a master prepared in the UK.



    As far as I know, correct me if I am wrong, Harker's staking was not shot and the way you see it is the way it was intended. I have never heard anything to the contrary, although I would like to know where you got that information.

    Are you referring to the Lucy staking which was always longer on the US version than the UK?
    " The film was cut for its original cinema release by the BBFC in 1958 to remove shots of blood during Lucy's staking and to reduce the final disintegration of Dracula. For later UK video and DVD releases the U.S print (titled "Horror Of Dracula") was used as this restored the staking scene in full, although the climactic disintegration remained edited (and may no longer survive). In May 2007 a new BFI 'restored' print was premiered in Cannes which includes the staking and restores the original title of "Dracula" to the opening titles."



    Previous video versions showed Harker hitting the stake twice as opposed to 3 times,it is the 2nd hit that was cut as you can see it clearly in the film as it jumps to Christopher Lee in his coffin.



    Dracula (1958) - Alternate versions









    .

  9. #29
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    I am aware of most of the above.

    You mentioned the Harker staking and I thought you referred to the scene where Helsing discovers Harker's body and the scene fades as he is about to stake him.

    I have to admit though that I didn't realise there was an extra hitting of the stake of the Vampire Woman (Valerie Gaunt).

    Was this always in the US version?

  10. #30
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    The latter surviving reels of a Japanese print supposedly reside in a lab or vault and should contain a longer version of Lucy's staking, Dracula seducing Mina is slightly longer before the cut to the owl and ofcourse Dracula's disintegration. This has been discussed in detail on the Hammer Horror section of the Classic Horror Film Board.

    Attemps have been made to access this material without success.

  11. #31
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    Quote Originally Posted by Stephen Pickard
    The latter surviving reels of a Japanese print supposedly reside in a lab or vault and should contain a longer version of Lucy's staking, Dracula seducing Mina is slightly longer before the cut to the owl and ofcourse Dracula's disintegration. This has been discussed in detail on the Hammer Horror section of the Classic Horror Film Board.

    Attemps have been made to access this material without success.
    "BFI National Archive, Senior Preservation Manager Andrea Kalas added: "The restoration of what many fans call the best Hammer horror film required extensive research into reported censored scenes. Rumour and fact, not unlike the Dracula story itself, are intermingled.



    "Our research into missing scenes led us to every conceivable resource from the vaults of Warner Bros to an archive in Japan. Scenes censored by the BBFC for the release of the UK version, but included in the US version, have been recovered. In addition, the US title, “Horror of Dracula”, had been attached to most theatrical and video releases. We have restored the original British release title with its distinctive illuminated “D.”



    "Ben Thompson of the BFI National Archive film lab oversaw the restoration and it is due to his diligence and perfectionism that the film is restored. We owe special thanks to Richard Dayton and Eric Aijala of YCM Laboratories and Tim Everett, Ned Price and Bill Rush at Warner Bros."



    The film was restored from the original negative, except for the original British title and the censored scenes, which were from dupe negatives found in Warner Bros’ vaults. The original prints were released on IB-Technicolor prints, and Richard Dayton at YCM Laboratories in Burbank worked with Ben to achieve this particular look."



    Considering the Japan vault has had a visit I do not think they will find anymore footage,unless of course (like so many films ) they find some missing footage accidentally mis-labelled in film cans.



    Interestingly the dvd has a picture of Stephanie Beacham on the back cover,which is weird as Stephanie appears in Dracula A.D.1972 and not Dracula (1958 ) silly Warners.

  12. #32
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    Thanks, for reproducing that information. I have read that before. I still think there is hope that those reels will eventually be accessed.



    http://monsterkidclassichorrorforum....c/13224?page=1

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    Titled "Horror of Dracula" (U.S.title perhaps ?) the Film Society of Lincoln Center, N.Y.C. is showing this tomorrow. The NY Times ran a nice still of Christopher Lee, with victim in arms, in their The Listings section today.

  14. #34
    Senior Member Country: Scotland Gerald Lovell's Avatar
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    About time the BFI-restored version of "Dracula" (displaying the original title card, etc.) was released on DVD/blu-ray.

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    Senior Member Country: United States will.15's Avatar
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    Nosferatu introduced the vampire to the screen as a loathsome creature.

    Dracula (1931) introduced a more normal looking, but sinister vampire, the suave foreigner as a monster.

    Dracula (1958) added sex, the vampire as a predatory serial killer.

    The Dark shadows TV serial introduced the complex, even heroic vampire capable of more than just seeking victims for his blood appetite.

    The Night Stalker re-imagined the idea of a contemporary vampire in a completely believable modern environment.


    Interview With a Vampire made the vampire a completely romantic figure, a fantasy fulfilment instead of a monster.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Gerald Lovell
    About time the BFI-restored version of "Dracula" (displaying the original title card, etc.) was released on DVD/blu-ray.
    Couldn't agree more! I have had to buy a german jacketed version of the DVD because it is impossible to get one here!



    Is there any news of whether or not the remastered version will be released on DVD?

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    An interesting thread this one. Just to add a little on the origin of the lesbian vampire and the introduction of the character in film. As many of you will know Hammer experimented with a lesbian vampire in The Vampire Lovers, (as mentioned in this thread) Twins of Evil and Lust For A Vampire. The name Carmilla Karnstein is used in The Vampire Lovers and more or less in the other two films. It comes from the short story Carmilla, written by Sheridan Le Fanu and published in 1872. It’s a good example of Victorian gothic and has some distinct elements of lesbian erotica when portraying Carmilla the vampire and her single-minded pursuit of female victims. Carmilla has inspired many films, most of which are not British, but some of which have British connections, such as La novia ensangrentada, aka The Blood Spattered Bride (1972) with Alexandra Bastedo and Il castello dei morti vivi aka Crypt of Horror (1964) with Christopher Lee, which draws directly from Le Fanu’s Carmilla, for some of its scenes.

    Sheridan Le Fanu wrote some excellent ghost stories, which are as good, if not sometimes better (in my reading) as those of M. R. James. Shalken The Painter by Le Fanu, was filmed for one of the BBC Christmas Ghost Stories.

    Another British link in the quest for the origin of the lesbian vampire is the unfinished poem Christabel by Samuel Taylor Coleridge. Another good read, the poem contains the central character of a female vampire who predates on another woman.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Thibault
    Couldn't agree more! I have had to buy a german jacketed version of the DVD because it is impossible to get one here!



    Is there any news of whether or not the remastered version will be released on DVD?
    The 1958 version had been shown on BBCtv with the original Dracula title name before, some time ago as I still have on tape when it was broadcasted.

  19. #39
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    Dracula (1958)

    BBC4 Monday 18th October 2010 … 10.00-11.20pm




    A very rare showing of the classic 1958 version of Dracula with Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee directed by Terence Fisher with screenplay by Jimmy Sangster … and features one of the finest climaxes of any horror film.

    Dracula follows the second episode of A History of Horror with Mark Gatiss

    Emma





    A diary incriminating Count Dracula is found by Professor Van Helsing when he investigates the mysterious death of his friend, the victim of a blood-sucking vampire. A first-rate adaptation of Bram Stoker's novel that is considerably more faithful than many other screen treatments …

    Dracula is known as The Horror of Dracula in the United States.



    Peter Cushing, Christopher Lee, Michael Gough, Melissa Stribling, Carol Marsh, Olga Dickie

    Director: Terence Fisher



    Source … DigiGuide

  20. #40
    Senior Member Country: United States Reeldigger's Avatar
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    There was a well-publicized screening of a British print of the film over here fairly recently. Turns out the only difference was the title Dracula appearing on the credits as opposed to Horror of Dracula!

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