In this “in the spotlight” I’d like to talk about Bela Lugosi. Bela Lugosi is probably my favorite actor from the black & white era. His actual name is Béla Ferenc Dezsö Blaskó and was born in Hungary in place called Lugos, which of course later gave him his last name Lugosi. He started out as a stage actor and later became an actor in films and series. He made movies from 1917 until 1956. But his big breakthrough was in 1931 when he played Count Dracula in the universal horror classic “Dracula”. Later he went on to do more great films and a lot of them were in the horror genre. He also did many not so great films to be honest, but then again which actor hasn’t haha.
Dracula was the first film I saw with Bela Lugosi in it. When I saw it the first time I immediately loved his performance. It is kind of hard to describe what I like about him, but I’ll try to explain a bit anyway. To me he always comes across as a real gentleman but he always something eerie about him. He has this evil smile and look that he can give. He also has this very distinctive Hungarian accent which makes his dialogues all the better. I guess you just to have to see him act to know exactly what I mean.
Unfortunately Bela Lugosi died in 1956 at the age of 74. In the last couple of years of his life he met a young director named Ed Wood. Lugosi started in 2 of his movies. The last footage of Lugosi that was shot on film was also used in Ed Wood’s “Plan 9 From Outer Space”. Which now is known as one of the worst movies of all time, although I think it is highly enjoyable haha. This last part of Lugosi’s life can be seen in Tim Burton’s film “Ed Wood”. Martin Landau plays the part of Bela Lugosi and does an excellent job. He actually won an Oscar for this role. This is kind of ironic since Lugosi himself never came close to winning one. So if you are not into the old black & white movies I’d suggest you give “Ed Wood” a try. But just so you know this movie is in black & white as well.
But as mentioned earlier Lugosi also started in many great films. My absolute favorite of his is “The Raven”. I already talked a bit about this movie in our article “Let’s Talk Horror”. But here is a list of my favorites, not all of them him have Lugosi in it as the lead though.
- The Raven (1935)
- The Black Cat (1934)
- Dracula (1931)
- The Body Snatcher (1945)
- The Wolfman (1941)
- White Zombie (1932)
This list based on the movies that I have seen so far, of course I have not seen them all. So if you have tips for me which one I should watch, please let me know.
Another great actor from the same era was Boris Karloff. Karloff and Lugosi did quite a few films together. But Karloff always seemed to get top bill. Which in my opinion wasn’t always fair. Don’t get me wrong because I’m huge fan of Boris Karloff as well. But Lugosi did sometime outshine Karloff in my opinion. There were always rumors that there was a feud between Lugosi and Karloff but later that was proven not to be true.
To me Bela Lugosi is a true Legend. A lot of times when I watch his movies and he is on screen he gives me goose bumps. I always love every minute of screen time he has. So if you haven’t seen any of these movies and are willing to watch some old black & white classics, give his movies a try. You won’t regret it ;)