In Memoriam: Actress Lupita Tovar (1910-2016)

dracula-spanish-version

Lupita Tovar as “Mina” in the 1931 Spanish-language version of “Dracula”

Lupita Tovar, a Mexican-American actress who starred in the 1931 Spanish language version of Dracula, passed away last Friday.  She was 106.

Horror movie aficionados are well acquainted with Bela Lugosi’s iconic portrayal of Dracula in the 1931 version of that tale.  However, some of us may not know about a Spanish-language version which was released at the same time as Lugosi’s film.

In 1931, sound technology was still in the developmental stage, and dubbing was not yet routinely done.  Instead, Hollywood frequently produced foreign language replicas of English-language movies for Spanish, French, Italian, and German-speaking countries.

So it was for Dracula.  When the English-language cast finished their day time shift, a second Spanish-language group took over and worked through the night, using the sets and costumes of the previous shift.  The result was a film which duplicates, scene for scene, the Dracula movie that most of us are familiar with.

Well….almost duplicates.  The differences in characterization are fascinating.  For example, Ms. Tovar’s portrayal of “Mina” is much more sexual and assertive than that of Helen Chandler, who plays the English-language counterpart.  Unfortunately, Carlos Villarías as “Dracula” suffers in comparison to Bela Lugosi.

Regardless, I would strongly recommend viewing this film in both languages.  You can purchase a DVD compilation of both movies at amazon.com.  On the compilation is some fascinating commentary from Ms. Tovar about her role in the filming of the Spanish-language version of Dracula.

For more information about Ms. Tovar’s life and career, please see the following sources:

-http://www.latimes.com/local/obituaries/la-me-lupita-tovar-20161114-story.html

-“Lupita Tovar”  Wikipedia:  The Free Encyclopedia.  Wikimedia Foundation, Inc.  16 November 2016.  Web.  16 November 2016.

– “Drácula (1931 Spanish-language film)” Wikipedia:  The Free Encyclopedia.  Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. 13 November 2016.  Web.  16 November 2016.

The DVD can be found through the link below:

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