Run-Up To Halloween
The Mummy (1959) Shining Brighter Than Before On Blu-Ray
Among fruits of Universal subcontracting horror films to Hammer was the Brit firm's access to properties Uni-controlled, including The Mummy, which they'd remake here along Kharis rather than Im-Ho-Tep lines (Schenck/Koch rubbed lightly against preserve with their Pharaoh's Curse in 1957, but reanimated mummies were otherwise U's alone to exploit). Christopher Lee gets to humanity beneath his wraps, the only gauze-bound Mummy I can recall pulling that off (Hammer used no-name bandage wearers after this). Lee moves stiff but determinably, his Mummy unstoppable with stiff-at-first legs (naturally after 3800 years), but use of both arms, unlike Kharis of old who needed victims to position themselves just so for his lumbering attack. Mummy trailer bait was scenes where he smashed through glass doors to get at Peter Cushing (latter the one with a game leg) and is shot, speared, each unsuccessfully. This Mummy had muscle! Lee's is a sterling go at a role more confining than most movie monsters I can offhand recall. Should there be "Best Actor" category for work done in head-to-toe rubber (or gauze as here) outfits? Who then for nominees? Perhaps Ray Corrigan in It! The Terror From Beyond Space, or any one of guys in Godzilla guise. There has been, or will be (upcoming book) recognition for ones who wore gorilla skin (Corrigan again, among others). I'm going afield of The Mummy, however, so never mind.
Had a guest group, including deftly observant Dan Mercer (in from the North) to view The Mummy this weekend. His reaction, shorn of sentiment for not having grown up on Hammers: "A colorful presentation that was sure to have pleased its intended audience, but pedestrian in many ways. The mysticism and romance of the original was relegated to the searching depths of Christopher Lee's eyes. His performance almost redeemed the picture for me." As for Greenbriar, there was but wish I'd been beyond (too young) five in 1959. The Mummy used to show up on mid-60's kiddie shows in
Pace slackens for Michael Ripper's drunken sighting(s) of marauder mummy Lee, padding needed to eke 88 minutes from The Mummy. The wrapped one intrudes twice upon Peter Cushing meditation to near-identical result, not an only whiff of redundancy here. Was it to pump more action into the show? Hammer's tomb opening looks like entry to a jeweler's shop that needs but light tidy. You expect a friendly clerk to emerge and assist visitors to this cave undisturbed for thirty centuries. Cushing does nice cat-mouse dialogue with Turhan Bey-ish George Pastell, probably a best talking portion of the show. Writer Jimmy Sangster once summed up his work by memoir-asking "Do You Want It Good, Or Tuesday"? --- he'd opt for Tuesday with The Mummy. What matters in long run is less what we hear than what Hammer shows, always arresting design, spray of color where mummies hadn't trod before, and a stock company game no matter words given to speak. My group enjoyed The Mummy for these, and probably will again as it makes future Halloween/Hammer rotation.