Monday, June 4, 2012

Bela Lugosi (1882-1956)

Good eeevening.

[On Dracula] “In playing the picture I found that there was a great deal that I had to unlearn. In the theater I was playing not only to those spectators in the front row but also to those in the last row of the gallery, and there was some exaggeration in everything I did, not only in the tonal pitch of my voice but in the changes of facial expression which accompanied various lines or situations, as was necessary. But for the screen, in which the actor’s distance from every member of the audience is equal only to his distance from the lens of the camera, I have found that a great deal of repression was absolutely necessary.(1930 Hollywood Filmograph interview)

Drinker of blood.

“A strange thing happened to me following Dracula...I discovered that every producer in Hollywood had definitely set me down as a type — an actor of this particular kind of role. Considering that before Dracula I had never, in a long and varied career on the stage of two continents, played anything but leads and straight characters, I was both amused and disappointed. Of course, it is true, that every actors greatest ambition is to create his own, definite and original role — a character with which he will always be identified, but on the screen I found this to be fatal. (1934 interview for The Black Cat press book)

With Karloff in Son of Frankenstein (1939)

 “Never has a role so influenced and dominated an actors role as has the role of Dracula. He has, at times, infused me with prosperity and, at other times, he has drained me of everything.

Getting in touch with his simian side in The Ape Man (1943)

“It is women who love horror. Gloat over it. Feed on it. Are nourished by it. Shudder and cling and cry out — and come back for more.

Displaying his comedy prowess in Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein (1948)

“It is my particular pride that even in the most fantastic of my film roles I do not use makeup. Instead of depending upon masks, casts, court plaster and false features, I create the illusion of a terrifying, distorted or uncanny makeup by an appeal to the imagination. An evil expression in the eyes, a sinister arch to the brows or a leer on my lips — all of which take long practice in muscular control — are sufficient to hypnotize an audience into seeing what I want them to see and what I myself see in my minds eye.” (1935 interview for The Raven press book)

My favorite Lugosi films: Dracula (1931), Murders in the Rue Morgue (1932), White Zombie (1932), Island of Lost Souls (1932) The Black Cat (1934), Son of Frankenstein (1939), The Wolf Man (1941), The Ape Man (1943), The Body Snatcher (1945), Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein (1948) Plan 9 from Outer Space (1959)   

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