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Wednesday, February 1

Drácula at Instituto Cervantes

What’s Showing Today? Wednesday, February 1
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Featured Screening: Drácula at Instituto Cervantes

Instituto Cervantes series Spaniards in Hollywood begins tonight with George Melford‘s Drácula, a parallel Universal Studios production to their Bela Lugosi classic. The series, curated by Spanish media historian and semiologist Román Gubern, focuses on the influence of Spanish craftsmen, performers and writers in the heart of the American studio system during the 1920s and 30s.

With the advent of sound and attendant spoken English dialog studios took various approaches to making their movies marketable for international audiences. At Universal Studios, Paul Kohner, head of foreign production, took charge of hiring Spanish filmmakers, cast and crew to create parallel productions using the same sets, equipment and so on; and so for an additional 10% of the budget, a full-fledged Spanish-language version of the films would be ready for foreign markets. And so in the evenings, Kohner, Melford (director of Rudolph Valentino vehicle The Sheik, and not a Spanish speaker) and a cast including Carlos Villarías as Dracula and Lupita Tovar as Eva Seward (Mina) would shuffle onto the sets at night to make their own version of the film. Perhaps it was the twilight ambiance of shooting at night—or rather Kohner’s insistence on careful studying of Browning’s daillies and the cast and crew’s good relationship and utmost admiration for Melford compared to the notoriously non-functional relationship between Browning and cinematographer Karl Freund on the English version—but this is roundly considered superior. The English version’s greatest asset is undoubtedly Lugosi’s iconic performance, and Villarías wisely replicates it but by no means stiffly. This is a much more dynamic, carefully paced and emotionally driven take on the same property, and Tovar brings considerable sex appeal to the role rather blandly portrayed by Helen Chandler in the alternate version. This was one of the final parallel productions, as the onset of the Great Depression brought the practice to an end. And at that, Drácula is one of the few survivors—Kohner and Melford had previously teamed up for a Spanish version of The Cat and the Canary remake The Cat Creeps, one so effective that Carl Laemmle, Jr. had the original re-shot to match it; yet neither the English or Spanish versions of the film are known to exist.

Tonight Mónica Savirón introduces at 6:00 pm. Españoles en Hollywood runs weekly through March 7.

Also Recommended

Almighty Kings County Cinema Society returns to its recently-relocated, unofficial home Freddy’s with frequent collaborator, oddball archivist Movie Mike, to present a night of rare race films and a performance by Richard Pryor, all on 16mm. The Black Film Preservation Society’s Walter Taylor will be in attendance to contextualize a series of buried, forgotten and audacious cartoons that will be no doubt unfavorable to contemporary standards of political correctness. As Movie Mike writes, “We must keep a historical perspective when viewing this stuff, using film as time travel to visit our cultural past. We’ll experience social, cultural and political attitudes that time forgot!  To understand where we are now, we must see where we have been… If you are sensitive, this stuff may hurt your feelings.  Try to remember, history is not what we wish it to be, it is what it is, and it ain’t cute!” This could conceivably be a disaster, but it will definitely be worth checking out.

Daily Show writer Elliott Kalan presents William Wyler‘s 1937 Hollywood social message drama Dead End at 92YTribeca tonight. Joel McCrea, Sylvia Sidney and Humphrey Bogart star.

My favorite film of 2011, El Sicario, Room 164, plays Exitart. It was previously written up here.

WFMU‘s DJ /rupture broadcasts live from Spectacle Theater tonight. Rupture and Lamin Fofana will serve up Palm wine and African delicacies alongside bootleg music videos and Nigerian film. Also in tow will be their favorite African video shop owner.

Today

Deutsche Docs: The Contemporary German Documentary at Anthology Film Archives
Series details

  • Survival in New York (Rosa von Praunheim). Details. 16mm. 1989. 87 min. 7:00 pm.
  • New York Memories (Rosa von Pranheim). Details. Video. 2010. 89 min. 9:00 pm.

The Story of Film: An Odyssey at MoMA
Series Details

  • Part 1Details. 2011. 120 min. 1:00 pm.

Oscar’s Docs, 1950-87: Creative Expression at MoMA
Series Details

  • He Makes Me Feel Like Dancin’ (Emile Adolino) and Flamenco at 5:15 (Cynthia Scott). Details. 1983. 77 min. 4:00 pm.
  • Paul Robeson: Tribute to an Artist (Saul J. Turell) and Close Harmony (Nigel Noble). Details. Q&A with Noble. 1979/1981. 60 min. 7:00 pm.

Dead End (William Wyler) at 92YTribeca. Details. 35mm. 1937. 93 min. 7:30 pm.
Newfilmmakers at Anthology Film Archives. Details. 6:00 pm.
El Sicario, Room 164 (Gianfranco Rosi) at Exitart. Details. 2010. 85 min. 7:30 pm.
Handle with Care and Melvin and Howard (Jonathan Demme) at Film Society of Lincoln Center. Details. Discussion with Demme and actor Paul Le Mat between films. 35mm. 1977/1980. 193 min. 6:00 pm.
Rare Race Films & Richard Pryor on 16mm at Freddy’s, Park Slope. Details. 8:30 pm. FREE.
This is Where We Take Our Stand (David Zeiger, Mike Majoris & Bestor Cram) at IFC CenterDetails. Director Q&A. 7:00 pm.
Drácula (George Melford) at Instituto Cervantes. Details. DVD. 1931. 102 min. 6 pm. FREE.
May Death Sleep (Erik Leijonborg) at Scandinavia House. Details. 2011. 6:00 pm.
VidWWWorld: Africa with WFMU Live Transmission by DJ Rupture & Lamin Fofana at Spectacle TheaterDetails. 7:00 to 11:00 pm.

Ongoing

Crazy Horse (Frederick Wiseman) at Film ForumDetails. 2011. 134 min. 1:00, 3:45, 6:45 and 9:20 pm.
A Separation (Asghar Farhadi) at Film ForumDetails. 2011. 123 min. 1:15, 4:00, 6:45 and 9:10 pm.
Come Back, Africa (Lionel Rogosin) at Film ForumDetails. 35mm. 1959. 85 min. 1:00, 2:50, 4:40, 6:30, 8:20 and 10:10 pm.

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