Thursday, March 24, 2011

James Whale’s Dracula’s Daughter (part one)

This is another in Philip Riley’s series of “lost” scripts – fully completed treatments of movies about the classic Universal monsters that were, for whatever reason, unfilmed.

The story behind this unmade movie is that, after the success of Frankenstein, Whale was under contract to Junior Laemmle for more pictures, and Laemmle wanted Whale to direct sequels to both Dracula (the original was directed sopoforically by Todd Browning) and Frankenstein.

Whale produced a quirky masterpiece with Bride of Frankenstein, but didn’t want to take on the project that had been labeled Dracula’s Daughter. Whale, however, wanted very much to take on a different project, the musical Showboat.

Laemmle, head of production at Universal, was just as vehement that Whale make a follow-up film to the surprise smash of 1931, that strange Valentine to Universal’s bottom line, Dracula.

According to the introductory matter in this book, Whale got around having to make the monster movie by, without Laemmle’s knowledge, sending a way over-the-top script treatment to the Breen Office, the screen censors who had approval over public morality (and corporate profits) via the Motion Picture Production Code. Supposedly this 1933 script had beaucoup gore, torture, and perverted sex in it – to which the censors immediately reacted with horrified rejection.

This reaction from the folks who had to green-light any widely released film was a temporary death-knell (ha ha) for Dracula’s Daughter, leaving Whale free to continue preparations for his beloved Showboat.

It wasn’t until 1936 that a film called Dracula’s Daughter was released, with a script and plot so very different from the early treatments.

For example, the title role, played by Gloria Holden in the final film, was originally to be played by Jane Wyatt. Dracula himself plays a central role in the first 30% or so of the film. This would certainly have revitalized Lugosi’s already fading carrer!

More on this fascinating “might-have-been” next time.


No comments:

All original content
© by Mark Alfred