Tag Archives: The Mummy

The Mummy (1932, Karl Freund)

The Mummy is a strange horror movie. While there’s a definite villain–a monster–in Boris Karloff’s resurrected mummy, he poses a danger specifically to only one cast member–Zita Johann. She’s the reincarnation of his lost love and her exact importance to him isn’t clear until the last act. There’s a somewhat goofy moment where Edward Van Sloan, as Johann’s guardian and the closest thing to Karloff’s nemesis, reveals it all to David Manners (as Johann’s more appropriate suitor). Fortunately Van Sloan experiences the eureka moment just in time but not too early… otherwise the entire last act could have been avoided.

And the last act is the payoff of The Mummy. There are some excellent sequences throughout and Karloff is fantastic, but the last act is where Johann gets to toggle between a reincarnated Egyptian priestess finding herself in the 20th century and her initial character. It’s less than fifteen minutes of the runtime, but it’s awesome stuff. There’s an abrupt ending to the picture, but it has gotten the job done.

Van Sloan is reliable, Manners is likable–he and Johann’s initial flirtation scene is one of the film’s more successful ones between the couple. Arthur Byron is good as another Egyptologist.

John L. Balderston’s script has a lot of fine moments too, especially for Byron, as he comes to terms with meeting a reincarnated mummy.

As for Freund’s direction… it’s always good, but sometimes exceptional. Great editing from Milton Carruth too.

The Mummy is lean and successful. Rather good stuff.

3/4★★★

CREDITS

Directed by Karl Freund; screenplay by John L. Balderston, based on a story by Nina Wilcox Putnam and Richard Schayer; director of photography, Charles J. Stumar; edited by Milton Carruth; music by James Dietrich; produced by Carl Laemmle Jr.; released by Universal Pictures.

Starring Boris Karloff (Imhotep), Zita Johann (Helen Grosvenor), David Manners (Frank Whemple), Arthur Byron (Sir Joseph Whemple), Edward Van Sloan (Docter Muller), Bramwell Fletcher (Ralph Norton), Noble Johnson (The Nubian), Kathryn Byron (Frau Muller), Leonard Mudie (Professor Pearson) and James Crane (The Pharaoh).


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The Mummy (1959, Terence Fisher)

I’ve long held there are no good filmic Dracula adaptations. I’m now going to say there aren’t any good Mummy pictures after the Karloff one. This Hammer production was an officially licensed remake of the Universal production… only not the Karloff title, instead the inferior Universal follow-ups, The Mummy’s Hand and The Mummy’s Tomb. These films are awful, so, in making their first official remake of a Universal horror picture, Hammer chose to remake two awful ones (combining them into a single picture).

I didn’t grow up on Hammer horror films. I knew about them, mostly through their excellent poster art and the Maltin Movie Guide, but I didn’t really see them until I was in college. And then I discovered they’re truly awful, ineptly written wastes of time. The Mummy is, shockingly, one of their better efforts, mostly because it’s a fruit of a poison tree so it’s not Fisher’s fault. Who knows if he’d have directed it well–Jack Asher’s lighting makes the sets look as big as shoe boxes.

Peter Cushing’s a weak lead, but he’s not terrible. Christopher Lee’s okay as the mummy, I guess. Hard to mess it up. Yvonne Furneaux can’t act, but the movie doesn’t really expect anyone to act, so who cares… Only Eddie Bryne, as a police detective, and Felix Aylmer give good performances. They’re very out of place in the picture.

The Mummy‘s a dreadful waste of time and I recommend everyone avoid. But there are worse Mummy pictures.

0/4ⓏⒺⓇⓄ

CREDITS

Directed by Terence Fisher; written by Jimmy Sangster; director of photography, Jack Asher; edited by Alfred Cox and James Needs; music by Franz Reizenstein; production designer, Bernard Robinson; produced by Michael Carreras; released by Universal Pictures.

Starring Peter Cushing (John Banning), Christopher Lee (Kharis, the Mummy), Yvonne Furneaux (Isobel Banning / Princess Ananka), Eddie Byrne (Inspector Mulrooney), Felix Aylmer (Stephen Banning), Raymond Huntley (Joseph Whemple) and George Pastell (Mehemet Bey, Alias Mehemet Akir).


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