The Mummy (1932)

THE MUMMY (1932)
Article #101 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing date: 6-25-2001
Posting date: 11-8-2001

When the Scroll of Thoth is read by a curious archaeologist, the mummy of Im-Ho-Tep revives, steals the scroll, and vanishes. Years later a curious character named Ardeth Bay leads archaelogists to the undiscovered tomb of a woman.

This fine movie did not establish the basic mummy mythology that survives; credit for that goes to THE MUMMY’S HAND, which, though it borrows footage from this movie, is not a sequel. In this movie, the mummy is only seen as such at the very beginning (in a great scene); it contains the classic line, “He went for a little walk!” The rest of the movie is quieter and more poetic. In many ways, it is similar to DRACULA, a movie on which Karl Freund (the director of THE MUMMY) served as cinematographer.

I love Boris Karloff’s performance in this movie; his stiff, often motionless stance and his obvious distaste at being touched gives him a sense of great age and extreme delicacy, as if he’s ready to crumble to dust at any moment.

Incidentally, when I started watching movies on my local Creature Feature, this was the first one I encountered; unfortunately, I found myself bored after the first scene and found myself wondering where the mummy had gone to, and I failed to watch the movie in its entirety. As an adult, that problem has vanished, and though the movie does require a little patience, Karloff’s performance and the quiet but steady accumulation of detail that drives the movie keep me interested throughout (unlike DRACULA, which never fails to cast its irresistible spell of sleep on me).

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