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Would Bela Lugosi's Career Have Been Different if He Played the Monster in Frankenstein?

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On 1/23/2020 at 5:26 PM, antoniacarlotta said:

My newest video is about the life and career of Bela Lugosi. He was clearly very talented, and his career spanned more than 50 years, but after Dracula, he struggled to break out of the horror genre. Bela had turned down Frankenstein, which was a huge win for Boris Karloff. After this, Bela was hardly picky about the film roles he accepted, and some wonder if it's because he was scared to make the same mistake again. Karloff also didn't seem to struggle with typecasting the way Bela did. Do you think Bela's career trajectory would have been different if he had played The Monster too?


Landau's magnificent per in Ed Wood that more then deserved him that Oscar mentioned turning it down, befire wrestling with a rubber octopus

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I honestly could never see Bela playing the monster. In the accounts I've read, he wasn't too thrilled to play it anyway, and I don't blame him.  He was a matinee idol in his native Hungary and when he came to Hollywood became that idol again.  I have no clue what happened to him  when he came to Hollywood and signed with Universal, supposedly to be the NEW Lon Chaney.  I think the fates let him down. I always think of him as an excellent performer, one of his best roles being Ygor in Son.  

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I've read that Son of Frankenstein was supposed to be filmed in color.  IMHO that would have been a mistake. The art direction, the sets alone would not have been as creepy.  I think the sets add so much to the film, never mind the actor's performances.  I know that actors love doing the make up thing and boy, did Bela score here.  I find it difficult to pin down just whose movie this is. They were all great. I have to laugh at Rathbone's quivering lip tho. 

The other thing I wanted to talk about is Abbott & Costello Meet Frankenstein. Now if this had been filmed in color, I wonder if it would have been even more hilarious.  You know with the animation and the costume party, it might have  worked.  (I am by no means a fan of colorization, believe me.) 

Lou Costello, locked in the stock thing there or whatever it's called, he can't move. No hope of escape. When Sandra and Dracula are moving the monster through the catacombs, she says, "We'll be right back, Wilbur." And Lou replies. "Okay. I'll wait."  Just one of many lines that kill me.  Sorry. Digressing there. 

But I wonder how Bela's make up would have appeared on the screen in living or undead color. 

Anyway, Bela has been my favorite guy since I was a kid. It truly is a shame the way things went for him in his later years. But he is an icon, a legend, a household name.  And we happily have access to many of his films and can enjoy him pretty much whenever we want to. 

At Christmas time I gave a co-worker ( a Universal monster fan) a tee shirt with all the Universal monsters on it.  I was a little concerned that his two young daughters aged 3 and 4 might be a little frightened by it. But no. When they saw it, they recognized the monsters and the older kid did the 'I vant to drink your blood' schtick.  Amazing. Lugosi still lives!

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Wait, I left out Black Cat 41 and Night Monster. 

Black Cat 41 is pretty much a farce with Hugh Herbert walking into scenes where he doesn't belong and ad libs galore. Rathbone gives a stolid performance.  You almost want to slap him and tell him to get off the set.  Bela is pretty much used as a scary villain who pops up from time to time acting sinister.  What a waste. 

In Night Monster Bela's talent is completely wasted and I think I've said this before here somewhere.  Night monster is a bizarre little film that utilizes the creepy Universal monster musical score and The Wolf Man's feet.  It's entertaining nonetheless  especially Leif Erickson as the love starved chauffeur.  The dialogue in this picture...

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Uh oh. I forgot to mention that in high school, majoring in art, my art teacher was married to a Hungarian and he spoke very highly of Bela as he was still very popular. This was circa 1974. 

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