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Dracula Goes To War

Discussion in 'Military History' started by GRW, Oct 31, 2019.

  1. GRW

    GRW Pillboxologist WW2|ORG Editor

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    Still Hallowe'en somewhere, I suppose, so still topical.
    "THE 1915 Carpathian Campaign was a disaster for Austria-Hungary. Casualties reached as high as 50 per cent in what would be also be remembered as the Gorlice-Tarnow Offensive.
    Among those who suffered during this butchery was Lieutenant Blasko Bela Ferenc Dezo, later known to the world as Bela Lugosi (1882 to 1956).
    Lugosi will be forever identified with Universal Pictures' 1931 classic Dracula. In fact, there’s been virtually no on-screen adaption of the famous novel since that doesn’t somehow pay homage to his portrayal of the Transylvanian vampire. Even today, few Halloween costumes, animations, or cereal boxes can avoid the permanent mark he left on the character.
    Remarkably, Dracula is far from Lugosi’s best acting. In the ‘30s his performance in films like White Zombie and The Raven made otherwise workmanlike productions into surreal nightmares.
    But Lugosi channeled all of his dark energy into the 1934 film The Black Cat. A serious cinematic achievement in its own right, the film was one of German émigré director Edgar G. Ulmer's finest works. Ulmer had been heavily influenced by Weimar Cinema, especially the work of FW Murnau of Nosferatu fame and Fritz Lang, famous for his 1927 dystopian sci-fi Metropolis.
    The Black Cat
    , which also stars Boris Karloff, comes very close to becoming an allegory of the First World War. It was a theme that haunted almost all horror films in the ‘20s and ‘30s.
    The story focuses on the bad blood between two veterans of the conflict. Although the war has been over for 15 years, Dr. Vitus Werdegast (Lugosi) harbours a grudge against Hjalmar Poelzig (Karloff) for leaving him to die during a battle against the Russians. When the two find themselves together again in a foreboding Caligari-esque mansion built on an old Eastern Front battlefield, dark psychological drama ensues.
    Lugosi seldom spoke of how the Great War and its immediate aftermath influenced the roles he chose or how her performed them. The actor, normally known for his quiet reserve, shocked the cast and crew on the set of The Black Cat when he began inexplicably divulging troubling details about his time at the front.
    During one such confessional, he told his fellow-actors and the wife of the director that he had been a “hangman” for the Austro-Hungarian army and that the experience of killing left him “thrilled” and “guilty” all at once."
    Amazingly, little attention has been paid to Lugosi’s war experience, even in major biographies about him. One such account of his life runs to almost 500 pages – plus notes – yet gives it little more than one paragraph. What little we do know about Lugosi’s experiences from 1914 to 1919 perhaps helps explain what sounds like fragmented ramblings on the set of The Black Cat."
    Dracula Goes to War – Bela Lugosi, WW1 and the Making of a Macabre Hollywood Legend - MilitaryHistoryNow.com
     
  2. CAC

    CAC Ace of Spades

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    [​IMG]
    Bad enough to scare Nosferatu...
    upload_2019-11-1_10-53-10.jpeg
    Told you...
     
  3. GRW

    GRW Pillboxologist WW2|ORG Editor

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    "Ah, the creatures of the night! What beautiful music they make!"
     

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