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Monday, February 06, 2017

Are There Mummy Fans Digging Up Egypt?

This Mummy's Hand In Boosting Archaeology

Scariest Scene in The Mummy's Hand, Not Least Because You Can Hear The Camera Whirring

I’d nominate ancient Egypt as Number One on history’s Hit Parade. Everyone seems engaged by mummies and pyramids. There must be a hundred You Tube documentaries about Egypt. Whatever the reality, archaeology at least seems to be a glamorous occupation. Trouble is the hours --- no years --- stacked against a moment where someone makes a find. Maybe that’s why movies duck the topic still. Greenbriar talked about Valley Of The Kings a while back and noted those who embraced Egyptology after seeing it in 1954. Now I’d ask if Universal’s Mummy series had a same effect during the 30’s and 40’s. This may need to go under category of Lives Changed By Monster Movies. Were any of 1940 viewers inspired to follow Dick Foran’s example in The Mummy’s Hand and take up archaeology? I might even have set upon such a goal after seeing it at age 10, instead of merely chasing more Mummy movies. Of sequels to the 1932 Karloff classic (four, if we don’t count the Abbott and Costello Meets …), The Mummy’s Hand is best by far recruitment for the ancient world as serious pursuit. We should examine archaeologist interviews from a past seventy-five years for ones who declared: “I am here thanks to Dick Foran.”

So Which Was Primary Draw --- The Mummy or The Andrews Sisters? Depended On Age, I Guess

I Checked --- Seems Ancient Egyptians Liked Leopards and Imported Them From Southern Africa, Thus Tyler's Neat Tog

Peggy Moran Blow-Dries Tom Tyler's Mummy
The Mummy’s Hand is too long unsung for its celebration of historical inquiry. Foran is an educated and articulate seeker after knowledge. He can spot a genuine artifact amidst junk sold by a Cairo street peddler. His trained eye recognizes hieroglyphs that lead to a lost tomb. Foran’s “Steve Banning” is also a live-by-wits adventurer, something we all, at one or another time, long to be. He isn’t geeky or detail-obsessed, and will engage a bar brawl where natives get too pushy. Steve must pick and choose Cairo Museum staff who can be trusted, his a wary eye for wily Eastern ways. The Mummy’s Hand is a best of the Mummy follow-ups because it takes place in Egypt. Further sequels went amiss for transplanting action to stateside. The Mummy as fish out of water won’t wash. He’s not like Kong taken off Skull Island to greater adventure elsewhere. Kharis can only be diminished by unnecessary travel, his legacy, status, even much of personal integrity, left behind, the character as shuffling nonentity being unfortunate result.

Don't Recall Those Guys On The Right From The Opening Tomb Scene. Were Their Scenes Cut?

We Fly Coach For a First Hour of The Mummy's Hand, Then Out Of First Class
 Comes This Awesome Set Left Over From Year Before's Green Hell 

Remember my complaint over Larry Talbot being healed of lycanthropy in House Of Dracula, only to be cursed with it again in Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein? The Mummy’s Tomb in 1942 did a same cruel postscript to happy coda of The Mummy’s Hand. Steve Banning and partner “Babe Jenson” (Wallace Ford) enjoy comfortable old age, their Mummy struggle now the stuff of distant recall. The Mummy’s Tomb begins its sorry mission by letting Kharis kill off both likeable heroes of the Hand struggle, a nihilist what-is-life-but-futility-and-eventual death to ones of us watching at impressionable age. Tomb bothered me lots in June 1965, seven months after seeing The Mummy’s Hand. I got Universal's message that no matter the enemy you fight against and vanquish, he will eventually be back to kill you. I hope 1940 youth who saw The Mummy’s Hand and wanted to grow up and be Steve Banning did not show up for The Mummy’s Tomb in 1942.


Blogger Bill O said...

The low budget Mummy series, with nothing to lose, seemed to revel in violating the tropes. Not only killing the two old farts who'd been dining out on their Kharis story for decades, but also offing Foran's innocent aged sister. The latter scene snipped out of the MH first vhs release. Combined with the climax of The Mummy's Ghost, such incidemts must've seemed like Psycho to the true believers.

4:25 AM  
Blogger Reg Hartt said...

Well, I read somewhere that THE MUMMY'S GHOST or THE MUMMY'S CURSE was the top box office film of its year for Universal so the public liked The Mummy loose in America. In the 1970s at Rochdale I ran all the Mummy films sequentially. By the time we got to THE MUMMY'S CURSE the use of stock footage caused the audience to run out. Tedious beyond belief in one giant dose. Better in small dollops one at a time. The Karloff Mummy is superb.THE MUMMY'S HAND is good. From there on it is straight down and fast. I felt it a bummer when Dick Foran and Wallace Ford got offed as well. Poor Lon Chaney in that costume. Star billing and nothing to do but shuffle and grunt.Tom Tyler was better served. Lon Chaney, though, delivered an effectively monstrous mummy.

7:42 AM  
Blogger Bill O said...

Chaney's anger at being wrapped manifested itself in his performance. Breaking thru real glass and visibly bleeding, and choking a museum guard a trifle too emphatically. You can hear his gasp as the scene ends...

8:04 AM  
Blogger Mike Cline said...

Re: Marquee photo. Had I been of age and geographically close, I would have been at the Avon for the Universal combo.

THE MUMMY because it was a mummy movie.

ARGENTINE NIGHTS because of The Andrew Sisters and George Reeves.

The Ritz Bros.never sold me a movie ticket.

10:50 AM  
Blogger b piper said...

You make Stephen Banning sound like the original Indiana Jones, which is not inapt. As for the Mummy not working as a fish out of water I'd have to disagree since my favorite mummy film is Hammer's 1959 version, where Lee's mummy seemed suitably eerie stalking the Victorian English countryside.

12:18 PM  
Blogger shiningcity said...

John, not sure if anyone has said it; but your sly, gentle humor is one of the best things about your blog.

1:09 PM  
Blogger John McElwee said...

Thank you very much for that, shiningcity. It really makes my day.

1:17 PM  
Blogger Dave K said...

The eyes! Nobody has mentioned the Mummy's cartoon-blacked-out eyeballs! Pretty sure this is the only entry with this not totally convincing, but completely unnerving effect. Creeped out this one-time twelve year old!

10:12 PM  
Blogger Donald Benson said...

The Karloff Mummy was very close to Dracula, when you think about it: An undying creature who can infiltrate the human world, sporting a cultured, intelligent veneer while going about his supernatural business.

Maybe the similarity is one of the reasons they discarded that approach in the followups. That, and a desire to keep the Mummy in his first, horrifying makeup.

The post-Karloff Mummy was very close to the eventual post-Karloff Monster: A shambling zombie without soul or personality. The one significant difference seemed to be that the Mummy took orders -- at least until he decided he wanted to keep the girl -- while the Monster was only semi-controllable, finally reduced to last-reel rampages whenever somebody powered him up.

4:17 PM  
Blogger Lionel Braithwaite said...

I loved these latter Mummy movies (The Mummy's Hand & The Mummy's Ghost) for the foot focus in them on Peggy Moran & Ramsay Ames-never expected to see that in a 1940's movie, ever.

4:32 AM  

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