“Do you have to open graves to find girls to fall in love with?”
To watch The Mummy, follow this link.
What an era! I wonder if 80 years from now people will marvel at the films being produced today as we marvel at the classic Universal Monsters movies. And what, as The Mummy‘s Karl Freund, gets hired two days prior to filming and ends up with a classic? Much less a first-time director!
And yet, first-time directors can be difficult. It’s well documented that Freund was particularly hard on Zita Johann (Helen Grovenor/Princess Ankh-es-en-Amon), forcing her to stand for long periods so as not to wrinkle the dress and telling her that she would have to appear nude from the waist up. It wasn’t true, but, as Johann has stated, he wanted to use her as a scapegoat in the event that production was delayed.
Jack P. Pierce is once again responsible for the monster’s incredible makeup in The Mummy. Although the resurrection scene is the only time we see Boris Karloff in full mummy makeup, it is a spectacular image. I find this to be the best makeup of all the Universal Monsters, seconded by the Frankenstein monster (also a Pierce work).
Although Karloff’s appearance in makeup is sadly underused in the film, it’s understandable considering the long process. It took eight hours to apply the makeup and an additional two hours to remove it, which Karloff said was painful.
Karloff the uncanny in The Mummy
As we mentioned in our Monster Movie Mayhem With Frankenstein feature, Karloff was an unknown in that movie. Roughly a year later, the studio only had to promote The Mummy using Karloff’s name. Obviously, and standing the test of time, Karloff has something that fans and audiences of all kinds want and like. As a side, Karloff’s character, after Imhotep takes human form, takes the name “Ardath Bey,” which is an anagram for “Death by Ra.”
Boris Karloff as Ardath Bey/Imhotep
Zita Johann as Helen Grosvenor/Princess Ankh-es-en-Amon
David Manners as Frank Whemple
Arthur Byron as Sir Joseph Whemple
Edward Van Sloan as Dr. Muller
Bramwell Fletcher as Ralph Norton
Noble Johnson as The Nubian
Kathryn Byron as Frau Muller
Leonard Mudie as Professor Pearson
James Crane as The Pharaoh