Corgi, London, 1977
The blurb on the back:
The dark deeds of the Transylvanian Count Dracula have thrilled generations.
Gerald Savory was a veteran writer even before he got to TV, having chalked up a major West End hit in the 1930s with George and Margaret. In his later incarnation as a TV dramatist and executive (head of serials at the BBC), he gave us acclaimed series like The Six Wives of Henry VIII, Elizabeth R and Mapp and Lucia and - in 1977 - a two-and-a-half-hour adaptation of Dracula.
By rights, this should be the cue for ridicule, but actually I remember it as a very fine production indeed. Louis Jordan wasn't the most obvious choice for the role of the Count, but he made a decent enough fist of it and the supporting cast was excellent: Jack Shepherd was Renfield, and we were blessed by the presence of Frank Finlay & Susan Penhaligon as Van Helsing and Lucy respectively.
I believe that you can now get this version on video, so maybe I should revisit it, because - while I remember it as being pretty faithful to the original and displaying a taut narrative style - the book frankly is a waste of time. So either my original judgement was wrong, or else Mr Savory was fine at drama but not so hot on novels. I suspect the latter. He's cut the lengthy original down to under 140 pages, barely more than a novella, and it comes on a bit like a Reader's Digest abridgement. It plays up the eroticism a bit, but essentially claims - according to the Introduction - to be about 'the struggle between good and evil:
For those of us who see Dracula as primarily a political novel about the Victorian middle class' struggle to overthrow the aristocracy, it's clear we're going to be disappointed. And ultimately, like the Coppola novelization, it's all just unnecessary: the original's not exactly inaccessible.
ARTISTIC MERIT: 2/5