Movie Reviews


The Mummy


Starring Boris Karloff, Zita Johann, Edward Von Sloan


Directed by Karl Freund.  Produced by Carl Laemmle Jr.  1932

  In 1921 a field expedition in Egypt discovers the mummy of the high priest, Im-Ho-Tep, who was buried alive for sacrilege. Found with him, is the Scroll of Thoth, which Isis used to resurrect her beloved Osiris. When one archaeologist reads the scroll aloud, the Mummy comes to life!

Ten years later, an Egyptian named Ardif Bay (Boris Karloff) leads a new group of archeologists to the tomb of the Princess Ankh-su-Nom-An. Among the archeologists, is a young, dark haired beauty named Helen Grosvenor (Zita Johann).

Using mystical powers, Ardif Bay summons Helen Grosvenor to him. He peels back the layers of time, and shows Helen the Princess Ankh-su-Nom-An and how she died. He shows how Im-Ho-Tep, dared to use the Scroll of Thoth, to resurrect his lost love – and how he was caught, and entombed alive as a mummy. 3,700 years later, the field expedition discovers his tomb. It was the reading of the Scroll that brought Im-Ho-Tep to life as Ardif Bay!  

Now, Helen Grosvenor must die so she can be reborn as the Princess Ankh-su-Nom-An, a living mummy like himself!

This story appeals to me for several reasons.

Zita Johann is lovely, as the imperiled Helen Grosvenor. She is impeccably costumed throughout the film; wearing a long gown and a fur stole at the museum gala, beautiful lingerie later, and finally the stunning garb of an Egyptian Princess. There are many cinemagraphic similarities involving the costuming and camera shots of Zita Johann in The Mummy, and Penelope Ann Miller in The Shadow (1994). Coincidentally, both were released through Universal Pictures.

The character of Im-Ho-Tep is fantastic. His figure is lean and impressive. He is physically imposing, standing much taller than everyone else. His diction and manners are impeccable: “Your pardon; I dislike to be touched.” He is a powerful High Priest, who risks eternal damnation to resurrect his beloved Princess. He is mad to do so, and his insane infatuation with Princess Ankh-su-Nom-An leads him to kidnap Helen Grosvenor. Is Helen really the reincarnation of Ankh-su-Nom-An?  Im-Ho-Tep believes so, and enchants Helen into believing it too.

Is there a greater love, than this insane, pathological love that has lasted 3,700 years? The protagonists are the same in every love story. This is Romeo & Juliet; minus the teen angst. This is Sex and Death. It is one man’s desire to risk everything to be with the woman he loves. I think this insane, mad love is the greatest testament of love for another, there is. 

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