AFI Catalog of Feature Films
Movie Detail
Name Occurs Before Title Offscreen Credit Print Viewed By AFI
Director: Tod Browning (Dir)
Release Date:   14 Feb 1931
Production Date:   29 Sep--15 Nov 1930; addl scenes completed 13 Dec 1930; retakes completed 2 Jan 1931
Duration (in mins):   74 or 75
Duration (in reels):   9
Print this page
Display Movie Summary

Cast:   Bela Lugosi (Count Dracula)  
    Helen Chandler (Mina)  
    David Manners (John Harker)  
    Dwight Frye (Renfield)  
    Edward Van Sloan (Van Helsing)  
    Herbert Bunston (Doctor Seward)  
    Charles Gerrard (Martin)  
    Frances Dade (Lucy)  
    Joan Standing (Maid)  
    Moon Carroll (Maid)  
    Josephine Velez (English nurse)  

Summary: English businessman Renfield has a harrowing journey to Transylvania, where he is to arrange a lease of the Carfax Abbey in England for Count Dracula. Unknown to Renfield, Dracula is a centuries-old vampire, who lives off the blood of humans and cannot withstand the light of day. Renfield is greeted at Dracula's castle by Dracula himself, but after he passes out from drinking drugged wine, his host descends upon him to feed on his blood. Renfield, weakened by the attack, and Dracula board an England-bound ship which also carries the coffin in which Dracula sleeps during the day and several coffins filled with his native soil, which is required for his survival. When the ship docks in Whitby Harbor, the entire crew is found dead. Only Dracula and Renfield, who appears to have gone insane, survive. Renfield is installed in Dr. Seward's sanitarium, where the physician studies his strange habit of consuming the blood of small animals. Meanwhile, Dracula drains the blood of the female population of London. One night at the opera, Dracula introduces himself to Dr. Seward and meets his daughter Mina, her fiancé, John Harker, and friend Lucy. Lucy is enchanted by Dracula's romantic manner, and later, Dracula attacks and kills her. German scientist Van Helsing arrives in London to assist Dr. Seward, and correctly assesses the situation. As Carfax Abbey is next to Seward's estate, Dracula has easy access to its occupants, and he takes advantage of his ability to transform himself into a bat to attack his next victim, Mina. However, she does not die immediately, but undergoes a change over several nights. Van Helsing confirms for Seward and Harker that Dracula truly is a vampire when Dracula's reflection does not appear in the mirror of a cigarette box. Meanwhile, Renfield constantly escapes from the hospital as ordered by his master, Dracula. Despite the precautions of Van Helsing to prevent Dracula's entry into Mina's room, he hypnotizes her maid to open the windows to admit him. Mina succumbs to a final bonding with Dracula and becomes a vampire. She confesses to Van Helsing that she has seen Lucy since she was buried, which confirms his suspicions that the "woman in white" who has been attacking young children is Lucy. Dracula tries to hypnotize Van Helsing to force him to do his will, but Van Helsing resists and is saved by his crucifix, upon which Dracula cannot look. Dracula, followed by Renfield, takes Mina to Carfax Abbey, where he plans to make her final transition to vampirism. Van Helsing and John follow Renfield there, but when Dracula discovers their presence, he kills Renfield. Dawn approaches, and when Van Helsing finds Dracula in his coffin, he drives a stake through his heart, killing him for eternity. At the same time that Dracula is killed, Mina is released from her spell. With the horror ended, John and Mina reunite. 

Production Company: Universal Pictures Corp.  
Production Text: A Tod Browning Production
Distribution Company: Universal Pictures Corp.  
Director: Tod Browning (Dir)
Producer: Carl Laemmle Jr. (Prod)
  E. M. Asher (Assoc prod)
Writer: Garrett Fort (Play script)
  Dudley Murphy (Addl dial)
Photography: Karl Freund (Cine)
Art Direction: Charles D. Hall (Art dir)
Film Editor: Maurice Pivar (Supv film ed)
  Milton Carruth (Film ed)
Sound: C. Roy Hunter (Rec supv)
Make Up: Jack P. Pierce (Makeup)
Country: United States
Series: Dracula

Source Text: Based on the novel Dracula by Bram Stoker (London, 1897).
Authors: Bram Stoker

Copyright Claimant Copyright Date Copyright Number
Universal Pictures Corp. 2/2/1931 dd/mm/yyyy LP1947

Physical Properties: b&w:
  Sd: Western Electric Sound System

Genre: Horror
Subjects (Major): Death and dying
Subjects (Minor): Bats
  London (England)
  Romantic rivalry
  Transylvania (Romania)
  Whitby (England)

Note: Bela Lugosi created the role of Dracula onstage in the 5 Oct 1927 American premiere of Hamilton Deane's adaptation of Bram Stoker's novel. Lon Chaney was originally cast for the title role in this film, but died in 1930 before production began. According to modern sources, Conrad Veidt, William Courtenay, Paul Muni, Ian Keith and John Carradine were also considered for the role of Dracula. FD news items note that Lew Ayres was originally cast in the film, but was taken out to appear in another Universal feature, and was to be replaced by Robert Ames. Ames was later replaced by David Manners. A studio shooting schedule indicates the picture was completed for a total cost of $341,191.20, which was under the original estimate of $355,050.
       Universal simultaneously produced a Spanish-language version, Drácula , which was directed by George Melford and starred Carlos Villarías and Lupita Tovar. Some sources erroneously credit Karl Freund, who photographed the English-language version, with shooting the Spanish version also. A MPH review notes that when first released, the English-language version included an afterword performed by Edward Van Sloan, in which he warned audiences that vampires do indeed exist. According to modern sources, this ending was deleted in 1936, at the same time that the soundtrack was cut in the scenes in which Renfield and Dracula are killed.
       Modern sources add the following information about the production: Universal bought the rights to the play and novel for $40,000, from which Frederick Stephani wrote a treatment. Louis Stevens, Louis Bromfield and Dudley Murphy were also contributing writers to early scripts. Herman Rosse and John Hoffman contributed artwork for the sets. The opening scene of the horse-drawn carriage was photographed by Frank Booth, and other scenes were filmed at Vasquez Rocks, Chatsworth, CA. Other modern crew credits for Dracula include Scen supv , Charles A. Logue; Mus cond , Heinz Roemheld; Set dec , R. A. Gausman; Cost , Ed Ware and Vera West; Casting , Phil M. Friedman; Research , Nan Grant; Art titles , Max Cohen. Modern source cast includes Michael Visaroff ( Innkeeper ); Daisy Belmore ( English passenger ); Nicholas Bela ( Transylvanian passenger ); Carla Laemmle ( Girl ); and Donald Murphy ( Passenger ).
       Many films have been based on the Dracula legend. A partial listing includes the following: The 1921 German production Nosferatu - Eine Symphonie des Grauens , which was unofficially based on Bram Stoker's novel, directed by Friedrich Wilhelm Murnau and starring Max Schreck; the 1932 German-French film Vampyr , directed by Carl Theodor Dreyer and starring Julian West and Henriette Gérard; the 1956 Italian film I Vampiri , directed by Riccardo Freda and starring Gianna Maria Canale and Antoine Balpêtré; the 1958 British film Dracula , directed by Terence Fisher and starring Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee; the 1973 British television production of Dracula , directed by Dan Curtis and starring Jack Palance; the 1979 American Dracula , directed by John Badham and starring Frank Langella, Laurence Olivier, Donald Pleasance and Kate Nelligan; the 1979 German film Nosferatu: Phantom der Nacht , directed by Werner Herzog and starring Klaus Kinski and Isabelle Adjani; and the 2004 Universal production Van Helsing , directed by Stephen Sommers and starring Hugh Jackman and Richard Roxburgh. 

Bibliographic Sources:   Date   Page
Cinl   1 Mar 31   p. 36.
Film Daily   1 Oct 30   p. 6.
Film Daily   2 Oct 30   p. 6.
Film Daily   15 Feb 31   p. 11.
Hollywood Reporter   3 Dec 30   p. 4.
Motion Picture Herald   3 Jan 31   p. 74.
New York Times   13 Feb 31   p. 3.
New York Times   15-Feb-31   
Variety   18 Feb 31   p. 14.

Display Movie Summary
The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.
Advanced Search
Support our efforts to preserve hisotory of film
Help AFI Preserve Film History

© 2017 American Film Institute.
All rights reserved.
Terms of use.