Mike Gallegos for NPR
In 1931, Universal Studios filmed the classic horror film Dracula, starring Bella Lugosi as the vampire from Transylvania. But after production wrapped up for the day, a brand new cast and crew arrived at night to re-run all of the scenes in Spanish.
This version of Dracula en Español starred Carlos Villarías as the blood-covered vampire. The late actress Lupita Tovar, who played the beautiful Eva, said he was a stage actor in Spain and his likeness to Bela Lugosi was strange.
She said in a video clip of the complete legacy collection of Dracula. Lugosi had long, long toes, you know, and Carlos Villarias has shorter toes.
Remember Tovar about working the cemetery shift. “We shot all night until the next morning because we used the exact same sets. In fact, we had the same marks as the English cast, and we got in the same place.”
I remembered the frightening scene, its dark shadows, lit candles, and cobwebs.
She said, “Once you entered that group, it was a different world. You became under the influence of Dracula’s magic.” “You know, if someone touched me, I think I’d scream. I was scared. I really felt scared of Dracula, you know?”
Glasshouse / El Alami Photo
The actors were from different Spanish-speaking countries, but director George Milford did not speak the language. His directions to the cast and crew have been translated.
“We wanted it to be our best version,” Tovar said. “And according to critics, I think it was.”
By all accounts, this is true. This version of Dracula was 29 minutes longer than the English version.
Tovar’s son, Pancho Konner, said Melford and Villarias would watch the scenes shot during the day and make improvements. They were able to set up better camera angles and add more exciting elements.
“They didn’t have to deal with Hayes’ office, censorship,” Conner said from his home in the Pacific Palisades neighborhood of Los Angeles. “My mother wore a short dress and it was very sexy. My father, who loved my mother, was on set. He was producing it, he made sure it was a better movie.”
Conner, who became a producer like his father, helped his mother write her memoirs before her death in 2016, at the age of 106. He says she was a high school student in Oaxaca when Robert J. Flaherty, the film’s director North NanookDiscover it. Fox Studios sent him to find the most beautiful girl in Mexico.
“My mother went down to Hollywood with her Irish grandmother as her escort,” Kohner said. Tovar spent a year at Fox Studios doing small parts, but she didn’t speak English. “When the communication devices came, they wouldn’t renew her contract.”
Mandalet del Barco / NPR News
Someone at Fox recommended her to Universal Studios, where she met the head of the dubbing, Paul Conner, who “immediately fell in love with her,” according to their son.
Chris Weitz, grandson of Tovar and Conner, who have been married for more than 50 years, said Tovar was reluctantly preparing to return to Mexico, but that her signature of Dracula’s contract in Spanish was part of Kuehner’s plan.
Weitz is now a famous film director. So is his brother Paul. Together, the Weitz brothers write a screenplay for the Spanish Dracula industry. It will be produced by their uncle Pancho Conner.
Amanda Edwards / Getty Images
“It’s a love story between two immigrants,” Paul Conner explained. “Our grandfather was from what would now be the Czech Republic. So he was part of the European Jewish immigrant community. Then our grandmother was from a completely different immigrant community.”
Chris Weitz said Spanish Dracula It could also be considered an immigrant story: “Dracula comes from Transylvania to England and is generally considered bad news. He’s a vampire. He’s a parasite. That’s kind of an immigrant view, as opposed to what we really think about the role of immigrants in this country, and they are the lifeblood of how the country works.” “.
For some time, in the 1930s, hundreds of films were reshot not only in Spanish but in French, German and Italian. It was a small boom in Hollywood, before the film industries in other countries prepared, and before dubbing or subtitling became in vogue.
And now, in addition to Spanish Dracula The movie, there will soon be a TV series on Vix+, TelevisaUnivision’s new streaming service.
“It’s a one-camera workplace comedy,” said producer Ben O’Dell. “He starts collecting actors, sort of eleventh ocean. Once it’s set up, it’s about the kind of weird character trying to make this thing, which ends up being cool.”
Robin Beck/AFP via Getty Images
Odell said that this production will be filmed in Mexico, with actor Eugenio Derbez directed and starring Dracula. In their version, Odell said, the actor who plays Dracula is a ham. “He loves attention, he loves applause. He’s a stage actor, so he’s disgusted with filmmaking. When he was offered this role in the movie, he turned it down at first. He’s like, ‘Don’t they know who I am?” “
The character of Lupita Tovar is based on stories from her memoirs. “Lupita was very afraid of her father, who was an alcoholic, and he was abusive. So that’s the idea of having this monster in the house,” Odell said. “She doesn’t want to go back to Mexico. With the era of silence over. She thinks she might have to go back.”
Odell explained that the cast and crew are Hispanic Dracula I worked under the worst conditions.
“They had to come at night and work bad hours and had a lower budget, but they ended up making a better movie,” he said. “This is a great American immigrant story and a great Latino story because more often you come into this country, you have to work harder, you have less support, you have less opportunity, and you still have to try to give it. So it was just a beautiful story of vulnerable immigrants.”
This story is part of the five-part series Latinos in Hollywood, which pays homage to some of the legends and pioneers in the film industry and examines how some Latin actors, composers, and directors have gained or created more opportunities.
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