The Mummy (1959)

THE MUMMY (1959)
Article #1724 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 12-3-2005
Posting Date: 5-2-2006
Directed by Terence Fisher
Featuring Peter Cushing, Christopher Lee, Yvonne Furneaux

When an archaelogical expedition opens the cursed tomb of Ananka, the head of the expedition goes mad. Years later, the leaders of the expedition are being killed off by a mummy.

One of the problems I have with mummy movies is that most of them have little more to do than to repeat the same storyline line (with slight variations) again and again. That’s what this one does; on the basis of plot alone, there isn’t anything here that wasn’t done in the Universal Kharis the mummy series years ago. There are more ways to judge a movie than on plot alone, though, and I think this movie has some definite pluses. First of all, both Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee give strong performances; Cushing gives a lot of dimension to his role, and Lee manages a fine job with a role that really only gives him his eyes and body language to work with. In particular, I love his expression when he first meets Cushing’s wife, who resembles the princess Ananka. Also, the attack scenes are much more intelligently and effectively staged. Lee’s mummy isn’t really that much faster than that of Universal’s mummy, but he doesn’t waste a second. In particular, I like the way that he takes full advantage of the shock and surprise that his second victim undergoes at his appearance to move in for the kill before the victim can gather his wits to run. It’s touches like this that make the movie work as well as it does.

On IMDB, this movie about Kharis rates higher than any of the ones in the Universal series. Though I am more of a Universal fan than a Hammer fan, I find myself agreeing with this evaluation.

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