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Tuesday, October 29, 2013

THE MUMMY (1959)

Even those without the DNA strand for late ‘50s Hammer Studios Horror pics may respond like true believers on this one. Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee take their usual roles as man-of-science and monster, while Terence Fisher, Jimmy Sangster & Jack Asher helm, script & lens with unusual refinement, everything seems more of a piece here than in the better known FRANKENSTEIN/’57 & DRACULA/’58 reboots. Better paced, too, perhaps because a Mummy need only be relentlessly implacable rather than speedy. Though, Lee gets a move on when needed, bringing up emotion with nothing but his eyes to show thru the dust & cloth. Nice supporting cast, too, with only Franz Reizenstein’s score not quite up to snuff. And if it lacks the haunting beauty & dreamlike logic of the old Boris Karloff ‘32 classic, offering little to compare with Karloff’s creepy crepe-like skin, it does have more Mummy screen time, more deadly action and a great EastmanColor look for its flashbacks to ancient Egypt.

DOUBLE-BILL: Neither the Karloff pic (a rare directing job by cinematographer Karl Freund) nor the zippy CGI spectacle from 1999 is strictly comparable, but they each work on their own terms.

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