I’m back to talking about the Universal Monsters this month as I checked out 1932’s The Mummy. On an Egyptian archaeological expedition in 1921, led by Sir Joseph Whemple (Arthur Byron), the mummified remains of ancient Egyptian priest Imhotep (Boris Karloff) are unearthed. When a scroll accompanying the mummy is read by Sir Jospeph’s assistant, Imhotep reanimates and walks away with the scroll. Ten years later, Imhotep is masquerading as a modern Egyptian named Ardath Bey, who recruits Sir Joseph’s son Frank (David Manners) to dig up the mummy of Imhotep’s love Ankh-es-en-amon. After the mummy is located, Imhotep plans to resurrect Ankh-es-en-amon, using her apparent reincarnation Helen Grosvenor (Zita Johann).
After securing himself in classic horror fandom in 1931’s Frankenstein, moved on to a more talkative role in Karl Freund’s The Mummy. Probably the most interesting thing about this film is how little time Karloff actually spends in the film as a walking mummy. Indeed, it is only in the film’s opening prologue where Karloff is shown in fully mummy make-up, with his later appearances being as the fez-wearing and wrinkly-faced Ardath Bey.
Prior to seeing this film, I was already greatly familiar with the 1999 remake of The Mummy. While the remake features more action and CGI, both films are actually quite similar when it comes to the plot. However, this original film tells its story in a relatively brisk 73 minute run time. Korloff’s performance as the titular Mummy is obviously the standout of the film, with there being the iconic close-up of Karloff looking directly at the camera. However, the other characters seem to be there solely to move the plot and along. One thing I noticed with the Universal Monster movies is that they frequently reused actors and indeed The Mummy features Edward Van Sloan, who played Van Helsing in Dracula, playing the very similar character of Doctor Muller.
I probably have to admin that The Mummy is probably not as iconic a film as either Dracula or Frankenstein. However, it still has a solid lead performance by Boris Karloff and with yet another remake coming next year, it is definitely a key member of the Universal Monsters family.