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 Posted:   Oct 5, 2013 - 8:03 PM   
 By:   ZapBrannigan   (Member)

I'm watching DRACULA (1931) on MeTV right now. There's a steady, loud hiss on the whole thing that's pretty bad. I hope this isn't the best surviving sound for the movie. If it is, someone should re-do the whole soundtrack with a new cast of voice actors and new sound fx that closely mimic the original intention. I would never say such a thing, except that the hiss is literally louder than the dialogue, which makes it quite a chore to watch the film.

But I did like the main title music, which was sad and formal, classy and understated. Per Wikipedia, it's actually an excerpt from SWAN LAKE.

Has anybody seen the 1999 version of the 1931 film, with music by Phillip Glass? How did they deal with the hiss? And is the score any good?

This poster I found looks a little too cool to be vintage. Was it created for the 1999 re-vamp?


I guess the other big names in DRACULA music are Williams and Kilar. I don't even have the Williams, but Kilar's score is a great favorite of mine.

 
 Posted:   Oct 5, 2013 - 8:14 PM   
 By:   mastadge   (Member)

I guess the other big names in DRACULA music are Williams and Kilar.

And James Bernard!

 
 Posted:   Oct 5, 2013 - 8:18 PM   
 By:   Sigerson Holmes   (Member)

I remember the score for one of the Hammer Dracula films with Christopher Lee had the orchestra "say" the word "Dracula," in a similar way to how Williams' "Superman" fanfare seemed to "say" the word "Superman."

 
 
 Posted:   Oct 6, 2013 - 4:24 AM   
 By:   Graham S. Watt   (Member)

Zap, I've never found the hiss on the soundtrack of the Lugosi DRACULA to be that bothersome. In fact I don't think I even noticed it. It's crackly, yes, but it never interferes with my understanding of the dialogue (unlike WHITE ZOMBIE, for example). I've only got the old DVDs, which will have to do for now, but apparently the recent BluRays have cleaned up the image spectacularly - and they'll have done the same for the sound. Just guessing here: I can't be bothered researching the info at the moment.

I hate the idea of tampering with old films, like putting in musical scores where there were none in the first place. For instance, it would be a travesty to track in a score to James Whale's masterpiece, FRANKENSTEIN. The silences work so well there with the stark imagery. DRACULA on the other hand is a much weaker movie. It's basically a statically-filmed version of the stage play for the most part, and it can be a struggle to sit through (after the wonderful opening reel). So the addition of the Philip Glass score annoyed me less than it normally would. But I still see it as a kind of "trendy" experiment. I know people who are suddenly fans of the film because of the minimalistic Glass score. It's the only film score in their collection, and the only Universal horror movie amongst their DVDs of Kubrick and Tarkovsky.

By the way, if you get the chance, see the Spanish-language version shot by George Melford at the same time as the Browning. Melford and the Hispanic cast moved in at night after the Browning crew had gone home, and shot his version at night on the same sets. It's a much better film, in my opinion. The casting is terrible, apart from the good-looking women, but it's much more fluid, and it moves faster despite being almost half an hour longer than the Lugosi original. It also looks absolutely gorgeous. Some of the visual compositions could be right out of a '60s film - girls in underwear in front of mirrors etc. It's quite overtly erotic (nipples through the nightdress, real neck-biting and so on), and has a brief musical score for some key moments, apart from the Swan Lake for the titles.

Oh yes, and how could we NOT mention James Bernard (I know mastadge and Sig did). His "DRAC-ul-aaa" motif is probably the most iconic representation of the character ever. I think he used it in all the Hammer Dracs which he scored. (HORROR OF) DRACULA is probably one of the finest scores ever written, but it seems to be lost.

 
 
 Posted:   Oct 6, 2013 - 6:54 AM   
 By:   Doug Raynes   (Member)

I'm watching DRACULA (1931) on MeTV right now. There's a steady, loud hiss on the whole thing that's pretty bad. I hope this isn't the best surviving sound for the movie. If it is, someone should re-do the whole soundtrack with a new cast of voice actors and new sound fx that closely mimic the original intention. I would never say such a thing, except that the hiss is literally louder than the dialogue, which makes it quite a chore to watch the film.


The Blu-ray has some hiss but it's not excessive and I don't find it distracting. It's certainly not louder than the dialogue - or anywhere near close to that. The idea of re-dubbing the film is sacrilege!

 
 Posted:   Oct 6, 2013 - 7:27 AM   
 By:   Ag^Janus   (Member)

The Glass music is performed by the Kronos Quartet, it's excellent, probably my favorite of all Glass' film music. Excellent audio quality too.

 
 Posted:   Oct 6, 2013 - 7:43 AM   
 By:   Stephen Woolston   (Member)

The character of Dracula is blessed with lots of great music by lots of great composers.

My personal favorite is James Bernard's score for the 1958 version.

 
 
 Posted:   Oct 6, 2013 - 8:20 AM   
 By:   nerfTractor   (Member)

The Glass music is performed by the Kronos Quartet, it's excellent, probably my favorite of all Glass' film music. Excellent audio quality too.

Agreed. It's a fine piece and wonderfully free of Glass's tendency to self-quote from other works. He seems to have been truly inspired by the film.

In the long run, though, my favorite contemporary Dracula music is John Williams's 1979 score. You want to talk about inspired...

 
 
 Posted:   Oct 6, 2013 - 10:03 AM   
 By:   dan the man   (Member)

I think whatever our favorite DRACULA music is it is safe to say as MR WOOLSTEN stated there has been a lot of great music in DRACULA and VAMPIRE films in general over the years.

 
 
 Posted:   Oct 6, 2013 - 11:13 AM   
 By:   Ford A. Thaxton   (Member)

I thought I should mention a couple of other scores for productions of DRACULA with outstanding scores.

a.) Kenyon Emrys-Roberts score for the 1977 BBC production of COUNT DRACULA, sparse, but haunting. I swear that someday I'll get this one out in some form.

b.) Robert Cobert (aka Bob Corbert) for his score to the 1974 production of DRACULA starring Jack Palance. A Haunting Music box theme, suite available on at least two compilations.

c.) Wojciech Kilar's score for the 1992 production of DRACULA (Nuff said)

d.) The scores by Joe Harnell, Les Baxer, Charles R. Cassey and Ira Hearshen for the "Curse of Dracula" segment of the short lived TV Series CLIFFHANGERS back in 1979 on NBC created by Ken Johnson.

It's with mentioning that UNIVERSAL cut together several different TV movies "Dracula" called "The World of Dracula", "The Loves of Dracula (This one seem to have the ending of the series) and another called "The Curse of Dracula".

If you seeing those airing, they are worth you time, if for no other reason then hearing these scores.


Ford A. Thaxton

 
 Posted:   Oct 6, 2013 - 11:56 AM   
 By:   Stephen Woolston   (Member)

a.) Kenyon Emrys-Roberts score for the 1977 BBC production of COUNT DRACULA, sparse, but haunting. I swear that someday I'll get this one out in some form.

YES.

Notwithstanding my love for the 1958 production (both film and score), the 1977 BBC version is very special to me.

And you're right, the score is extremely haunting. Count me in if you do get it out, Ford.

 
 Posted:   Oct 6, 2013 - 12:08 PM   
 By:   Grecchus   (Member)

The BBC version is a memorable one. Whatever happend to Judy Bowker?

The only scene which didn't really gel with me was the one in which (as in the book) Dracula is observed by Harker to scrurry about on the outside walls of his castle in the vertical sense, like a lizard. I always imagined the count to be really moving - something like a squirrel zipping about on the bark of a tree. In the movie, Jourdan is seen to be quite static, with a mere slow flapping of his cape to suggest a bat-like demeanor.

 
 
 Posted:   Oct 6, 2013 - 12:56 PM   
 By:   J. Rang-ni   (Member)

Another one, Gerald Fried's surging, creepily atmospheric THE RETURN OF DRACULA. What a pulse that one has!

 
 
 Posted:   Oct 6, 2013 - 4:10 PM   
 By:   Loverozsa   (Member)

I don't believe that any composer has captured the spirit of Dracula better than James Bernard.

 
 Posted:   Oct 6, 2013 - 4:24 PM   
 By:   ZapBrannigan   (Member)

I'm watching DRACULA (1931) on MeTV right now. There's a steady, loud hiss on the whole thing that's pretty bad.

The Blu-ray has some hiss but it's not excessive and I don't find it distracting. It's certainly not louder than the dialogue - or anywhere near close to that. The idea of re-dubbing the film is sacrilege!



I'm glad to know there's a better print of the film available than what MeTV was showing. The hiss on the crappy TV print really was louder than the dialog. If you turned it up loud enough to hear what was being said, the hiss got to where it would hurt your ears. This is not like a case of some audiophile saying a CD is "unlistenable" because he can detect a problem. The hiss I'm talking about would be unbearable even to someone who is fond of "vintage" 1930s sound quality.

I would conclude that the watchable print of DRACULA has to be licenced at some price, while Universal lets MeTV show a garbage print very cheaply or for free.

 
 
 Posted:   Oct 8, 2013 - 8:13 AM   
 By:   Jim Doherty   (Member)

Trivia:

I have the Spanish DRACULA on several discs. I just noticed a mystifying difference between them. The oldest one I have (the DVD that had the repoduction of the color poster on the front), has a recording of SWAN LAKE during the opening titles which does not sound like a 1931 recording; it sounds newer, and has some notes missing around the :30 mark, but also has a few bars that are not in the English version. It continues playing into the first scene of the passengers in the coach. There are also tiny snippets of underscore (a somber cello piece) which turns up in scenes of Dracula coming out of his coffin (as mentioned by Graham S. Watt above).

However, on the 2-DVD 75th anniversary edition, the main titles now have a period recording of SWAN LAKE (it sounds like the same one used on the English version), and only the last three plucked notes extend past the credits and into the opening long shot of the carriage on the mountain road. Also, the underscore snippets are gone.

The new Blu-ray in the Universal Classic Monsters box, also does not have the underscoring bits, and the main title music (the same period recording heard on the 75th anniversay DVD) now ends as the credits end, and does not extend at all into the first shot.

 
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