Shadow Cast: Vision 2 – Who Should Have Played Count Dracula in the 1950s?

Posted by Jeremy Kirk - May 18th 2012 @ 2:52 pm

Sergio Diaz


There’s a hole deep in the darkest parts of South L.A. where dreams never met and talent never realized go to die. Black deaths. It’s like something out of Lovecraft. Remember the dumpster in Mulholland Drive? Yeah. Of course, no one dares look into this hole. Not for too long. That would be tatamount to diving into the bowels of Hell itself. And who’d do that, I mean really? By reaching into this dark realm, we can bring to light these visions of a past not created and explore what could have been had the stars aligned differently. Let’s call it a What If or a Who Should Have or a…Shadow Cast. That’s what the demons call it.

From Max Schreck to Gary Oldman to Klaus Kinski to Adam Sandler, hundreds of actors have put on the cowl, fixed in the fangs, and offered their best interpretation of Bram Stoker’s famed character, Count Dracula. The most famous of these is obviously Bela Lugosi in the 1931 Universal classic, probably the most iconic image of Dracula we’ve come to know. Odd then to think that he only played the character twice, and one of those times was spooking himself in Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein.

At that point, some 17 years after the classic tale of the most famous vampire, it became prime time for a reboot. The 1940s and 1950s weren’t the 2000s, so rebooting a franchise wasn’t exactly the key instrument a studio had at their disposal. They had things like screenplays and intelligent people to write them and make them original. Any reboot of Dracula was considered another horror picture, and horror pictures didn’t draw high priced talent. But that could have been a much different time.

Had it been more like the 2000s, you can rest assured Universal would have taken great pleasure in enacting the “reboot” clause, put the most famed actor they could get in the role, and raked in the rewards until, of course, the property got stale again. Hammer Films took over the property, with Christopher Lee in the role, in 1958. Universal Pictures released the film theatrically, but the days of Hammer Horror becoming the go-to house for all things Dracula had officially begun. But the Shadow Cast likes to play thing differently.

In the Shadow Cast world, Dracula could have been played by an A-lister, a household name that would have made the property break through the B-level barrier into something grander. There are dozens of notable actors who could have played the notorious role, and some of them would have done a damn fine job. But there’s one choice, our choice, who we feel would have taken the role, owned the hell out of it, and even helped launch the Dracula brand to new kinds of popularity.

Here is that man.

Our choice: Cary Grant

Cary Grant may sound like an odd choice when considering Count Dracula. Hell, Grant is an odd choice when you’re discussing horror in general. Outside of Arsenic and Old Lace and the occasional thriller from Hitchcock, Grant’s films were loaded with hugging, smooching, and all the things hardcore fans of horror can’t stand. Even Arsenic and Old Lace had its fair share of that other stuff, but its dark tone before dark tone was trendy is what wins it bonus points. At least we don’t admit to it in public. But putting Grant in the iconic role in the mid-to-late 1950s would have been quite a coup for horror fans and the genre as a whole. It may have even sprung the genre from out of the B-movie houses and gotten it some mainstream notoriety.

Between 1952 and 1959 Grant appeared in films like Monkey Business, To Catch a Thief, An Affair to Remember, Houseboat, and North by Northwest. He was established and a full-blown veteran of the arts, but his charm, prowess, and overall nature as an icon in the industry would have matched perfectly with what could have been for the Count regardless of his age. Even Bela Lugosi was approaching 50 when he stepped into the cowl for the first time.

It’s not to say Grant would have been a better Dracula in 1958 than Christopher Lee. It’s hard to argue with Christopher Lee whenever any role is being talked about. But, for this particular Shadow Cast, we’d find it very interesting to see what the debonair, suave, and endlessly alluring Cary Grant would have and could have done with Count Dracula. The hypnotic stare would have had to go. Grant only elicits laughter when he’s doing nothing but staring.

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