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"Tod Browning's Dracula" by Gary D. Rhodes


LiamCasey

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I have recently finished "Tod Browning's Dracula" by Gary D. Rhodes and found it to be a very interesting read.

 

It is my assumption that everyone on this message board would be classified as a fan of the movies. Otherwise, why would one be here? But I also assume that not everyone on this board would be classified as a student of the movies. I, for one, am not a student of the movies. But I enjoy reading, enjoy history and have been watching and enjoying horror movies for as long as I can remember. So this was an ideal book for me and would easily recommend it to anyone who meets that same set of criteria.

 

Although this book goes into a great many details regarding 1931's Dracula, the key aspect of this book for me is that it attempts to restore Dracula to its status as a classic. Now Dracula is one of those horror movies that I have long enjoyed and continue to enjoy. However, in the late 1990s I became aware of the fact that some experts considered Dracula as being flawed from the get-go in multiple aspects. And, although I never noted these flaws below (even that piece of cardboard), it was difficult to ignore them afterwards. Which made me doubt my opinion on the movie because, well, I still enjoyed the movie even knowing that experts considered it flawed. But this book goes into detail as to why many of those flaws are not flaws (again, even that piece of cardboard) and how many of these latter-day experts are reviewing this movie based upon a modern perspective rather than from a 1931 perspective. And one of the main points of that 1931 perspective was that, even though there were earlier movies that we would classify as being part of the horror movie genre, movies were not referred to as horror movies until Dracula. Which means that Dracula was forging a new trail that all future horror movies were able to take advantage of. Pioneers always have it rough.

 

Personally, I think it is time to rewatch a certain 1931 classic with the contents of this book fresh in my mind.

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I don't see this film but every 8 or 9 years, and I always forget how slow and quiet it is.  That really adds to the Boring Parts.

 

However, it's a perfect candidate for the "It's too important to be merely good or bad" rating.  It is. 

 

This is a film where any Good or Bad values, now, is only Revisionism because, when it was released, it was a powerful film.  And decades later, when I saw it as a youngster, nothing was more potent. 

 

So, I tend to rate this film (and many others) as simply Too Important in film history. 

 

Thanks for the notes on the book.

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Well put. Is it a case that Dracula can be classified as a classic, but it can not be classified as a timeless classic (even though its lead character is)? To me, a timeless classic would imply that a movie would still have a wide appeal to a modern audience. And that is a difficult hurdle for any movie to clear.

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Well put. Is it a case that Dracula can be classified as a classic, but it can not be classified as a timeless classic (even though its lead character is)? To me, a timeless classic would imply that a movie would still have a wide appeal to a modern audience. And that is a difficult hurdle for any movie to clear.

 

Timeless classic;  yea,  very few 'old' movies qualify as having a 'wide appeal to a modern audience'.     To me children movies like Wizard of Oz (since there will always be a new 'set' of children),   and light on the religion holiday themed movies (It's A Wonderful Life),  are the best contenders here in the USA.

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I think you hit it on the head with the reference to children's movies. In my opinion, the only two timeless classics from prior to 1940 are The Wizard of Oz (1939) and Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937). And, although an argument could be made for Gone With The Wind (1939) and Stagecoach (1939) in light of the continuing appearance of the former movie and the latter movie's lead actor on those yearly Harris Polls, I suspect it is primarily older adults that keeps both in the running. Which may mean it is just a matter of time for one or both to eventually fall off those polls.

 

And, as one who enjoys classic horror movies, I find it sad that I can't honestly add movies like Dracula (1931), Frankenstein (1931), King Kong (1933), etc., to this list.

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I think you hit it on the head with the reference to children's movies. In my opinion, the only two timeless classics from prior to 1940 are The Wizard of Oz (1939) and Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937). And, although an argument could be made for Gone With The Wind (1939) and Stagecoach (1939) in light of the continuing appearance of the former movie and the latter movie's lead actor on those yearly Harris Polls, I suspect it is primarily older adults that keeps both in the running. Which may mean it is just a matter of time for one or both to eventually fall off those polls.

 

And, as one who enjoys classic horror movies, I find it sad that I can't honestly add movies like Dracula (1931), Frankenstein (1931), King Kong (1933), etc., to this list.

 

What may keep those classic horror movies 'alive' is because remakes and adaptations continue to be made,  especially with Dracula (and of course vampires in general) and King Kong.   Remakes often create new fans of movies made way before someone was born.

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