Tag Archives: Mary Gordon

The Mummy’s Tomb (1942, Harold Young)

The Mummy’s Tomb is better than its predecessor, without a doubt. Harold Young’s direction is strong. It’s not quite scary, but he’s at least going for scary.

It’s sort of like an episode of “Cheers;” it takes place in small town Massachusetts and there’s a mummy roaming the streets. You can see the “Cheers” gang, having headed out of town for a weekend getaway, where there’s a mummy terrorizing their weekend.

It’s a sixty minute movie–which is some of the reason I watched it–I figured I could handle it. I didn’t account for ten minutes being from The Mummy’s Hand. The most interesting thing about the film is how it takes two of the first film’s principals–Dick Foran, Wallace Ford–and puts them in old age makeup two years after the last film–just to kill them off.

The leading man, John Hubbard, gets third billing (but deserves sixth). Elyse Knox is a decent damsel in distress. Turhan Bey, who barely has anything to do as the bad guy, is at least amusing. His character replays Zucco’s character from in the first film, only in New England instead of Egypt. There’s this secret society of high priests who can get one a job as graveyard caretaker anywhere in the world.

Unfortunately, Lon Chaney Jr. isn’t much of a mummy. Apparently, he didn’t like the character, didn’t like the makeup. It shows.

At least it’s only sixty minutes and there is a great crane shot at the end.

0/4ⓏⒺⓇⓄ

CREDITS

Directed by Harold Young; screenplay by Griffin Jay and Henry Sucher, based on a story by Neil P. Varnick; director of photography, George Robinson; edited by Milton Carruth; released by Universal Pictures.

Starring Lon Chaney Jr. (Kharis, the Mummy), Dick Foran (Stephen Banning), John Hubbard (Dr. John Banning), Elyse Knox (Isobel Evans), George Zucco (Andoheb), Wallace Ford (‘Babe’ Hanson), Turhan Bey (Mehemet Bey), Virginia Brissac (Mrs. Ella Evans), Cliff Clark (Sheriff), Mary Gordon (Jane Banning), Paul E. Burns (Jim, the caretaker), Frank Reicher (Prof. Matthew Norman) and Emmett Vogan (Coroner).


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Double Wedding (1937, Richard Thorpe)

Much of Double Wedding–around two-thirds of it–is a supreme comedy. It might feature William Powell’s best comedic performance, just because of the limitless opportunity it offers him. It’s hard to top Powell in a fur coat and a fake wig… with a German accent (and a walking stick). Or Powell going through a big demonstration of how sidekick John Beal should win back his fiancée (who’s now in love with Powell). A crowd gathers to watch Powell and Beal and it’s the most natural thing–who wouldn’t want to watch Powell in this film.

The script gives him a lot of freedom–his character is revealed (a little) throughout, so there’s very little constraint on him. For whatever reason, I wouldn’t have thought Powell could have done the Peter Pan bohemian painter but he does it great. Double Wedding even makes a joke at expense of the dignified characters he more often portrayed in a spectacular little scene.

There’s a lot of dialogue in Double Wedding, which is probably not from the source play (given it was probably written in Hungarian). The actors have some lengthy deliveries–starting with Myrna Loy’s hilarious explanation of how she’s related to Beal. It’s so confusing, it’s hard not to see the connections drawing out in the mind’s eye… just to keep up with Loy, whose delivery is wonderful. But Beal and Powell also have some long monologues and both are a joy to watch.

Beal’s character, quiet and reserved, gets these great situations–often when he’s got to explain why he’s acting passive, but the ones where he nears his boiling point are funny too. He has good chemistry with the object of his affections, played by Florence Rice. So it’s too bad when she disappears a third into the film, since Powell’s got Loy to romance, not her. It’s hard to even remember Rice is around, especially during some of the sequences with Sidney Toler, as Loy’s dimwitted butler who fancies himself a detective and spies on Powell for her. Powell gets the aforementioned beard from Toler, who’s trailing him in disguise.

The various absurdities in Double Wedding–along with a couple convenient revelations–create a fanciful atmosphere. It’s like the film anticipates what the viewer wants to see happen and delivers. Loy and Powell, for instance, have a romantic scene in the forest and it turns comedic at just the right moment–and then the film doesn’t stick with it too long, director Thorpe gets out at the ideal moment.

I’m sure I’ve seen other films of Thorpe’s before, but his direction here is very impressive. He knows how to use the actors well, even when it’s as simple as walking across a room or glancing into a mirror. And Thorpe manages to keep the rather large and out of control conclusion together, which is a significant feat.

The ending is where Double Wedding falls apart. It relies on standard comedy pacing instead of doing its own thing, it follows the standards instead of writing them–the first two-thirds is unlike anything else and the last third is extremely comfortable. The film stops before the story’s done, but also before the viewer is ready for it to be over. The tedious final act, with its paltry pay-off, is okay… however, the film raised expectations much higher.

And I can’t forget Loy. The third act really fails her, in terms of material. She becomes a fifth wheel in her own film.

3.5/4★★★½

CREDITS

Directed by Richard Thorpe; screenplay by Jo Swerling, based on a play by Ferenc Molnár; director of photography, William H. Daniels; edited by Frank Sullivan; music by Edward Ward; produced by Joseph L. Mankiewicz; released by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer.

Starring William Powell (Charlie Lodge), Myrna Loy (Margit Agnew), Florence Rice (Irene Agnew), John Beal (Waldo Beaver), Jessie Ralph (Mrs. Kensington-Bly), Edgar Kennedy (Spike), Sidney Toler (Mr. Keough), Mary Gordon (Mrs. Keough), Barnett Parker (Mr. Flint), Katharine Alexander (Claire Lodge), Priscilla Lawson (Felice) and Bert Roach (Shrank).


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The Last Ride (1944, D. Ross Lederman)

I’m a fan of Warner Bros.’s old hour-long b-movies, so I found The Last Ride particularly distressing. It’s not poorly directed–Lederman even has one or two really good shots–and the writing, at least scenically, isn’t bad. There are some funny moments and the teaser is excellent. It all falls apart pretty quickly, however (it is only fifty-six minutes). The film’s continuity editing is real sloppy, like they shot scenes based on one script, didn’t shoot the rest of the scenes, and let everything sort of clash. The first time, it’s annoying, but by the second… it’s a significant strike against the film.

There’s also the problem with the script in terms of the characters’ stupidity. They’re real dumb, missing the most obvious things. Makes it real hard to care about them. There’s also the case of the disappearing character–Eleanor Parker disappears after two scenes, Mary Gordon is gone by the twenty minute mark (she has the really good comedic scene)–and these aren’t characters the movie, given how the story develops, can do without. They’re needed to react and to interact and they’re gone (probably off shooting other Warner Bros. pictures, but whatever). Richard Travis manages to hold the film up on his own longer than I thought one person could, but even he buckles under the poor handling of the script’s developments.

Besides Travis (and Tod Andrews in a small role), most of the performances are wobbly. Cy Kendall is good in parts, too much in others. Same with Charles Lang. Parker’s barely in it, Gordon’s expositional introduction of her doing more to establish the character than Parker has time to do. The opening setup is better acted than the rest of the film, by actors who don’t stick around long, only because their story is more interesting–if a lot more sensational–than what follows.

My favorite part is the end, when there are all these leftover lines from when The Last Ride was going to run ninety minutes. The way it ends, it’s like at least fifteen was lopped off… it just stops at the earliest convenient point.

1/4

CREDITS

Directed by D. Ross Lederman; written by Raymond L. Schrock; director of photography, James Van Trees; edited by Harold McLernon; music by William Lava; released by Warner Bros.

Starring Richard Travis (Detective Lt. Pat Harrigan), Charles Lang (Mike Harrigan), Eleanor Parker (Kitty Kelly), Jack La Rue (Joe Genna), Cy Kendall (Capt. Butler), Wade Boteler (Police Chief Delaney), Mary Gordon (Mrs. Mary Kelly), Harry Lewis (Harry Bronson) and Tod Andrews (Fritz Hummel).


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THIS FILM IS ALSO DISCUSSED IN SUM UP | ELEANOR PARKER, PART 1: DREAM FACTORY.