The Curse of the Mummy’s Tomb (1964) starring Terence Morgan, Ronald Howard, Fred Clark, Jeanne Roland
Synopsis of The Curse of the Mummy’s Tomb
The Curse of the Mummy’s Tomb is a Hammer Horror film, and it feels like it. When European Egyptologists Dubois, Giles and Bray discover the tomb of the Egyptian prince Ra, American entrepreneur and investor Alexander King insists on shipping the treasures and sarcophagus back to England for tour and display. Once there, someone with murderous intent has discovered the means of waking the centuries dead prince…
Review of The Curse of the Mummy’s Tomb
First, it needs to be said that The Curse of the Mummy’s Tomb has more graphic on-screen violence than you would expect from a 1964 movie. In the opening scene, one English archeologist is murdered. And his hand is severed! The severed hand is later used as a “warning” to the rest of the expedition.
Also, there are many ways The Curse of the Mummy’s Tomb isn‘t a stereotypical mummy movie. The various characters are actually given some depth. Especially poor Sir Giles, who feels that he’s at the end of his career. He thinks that his peers have lost respect for him. And he begins drowning his sorrows in alcohol. Annette, the love interest, also has some depth. She poured herself into the study of archeology, to bond with her distant father. And it succeeded — until his graphic death at the beginning of the movie.
Fred Clark’s character isn’t the two-dimensional greedy backer of the expedition, either. He’s effectively a latter-day P. T. Barnum, who sunk a fortune into the expedition. And he wants a return on his investment. But he’s actually respectful of the archeological find, and the scientists. And he shows a moment of kindness when approached by a “woman of the evening”. Right before he’s murdered.
And, there’s a love triangle. Where Annette falls for the handsome stranger, over her “stuffy” fiancée. And lives to regret it …
Some quick thoughts:
- The sets, costumes, etc. all look gorgeous.
- The acting and cinematography is excellent.
- Fred Clark’s character is, effectively, a poor man’s P. T. Barnum. He’s financed the expedition — and expects to turn a profit off it. He explains to the archeologists that, like them, he wants to display their find to the world. Except that, instead of hiding it in a museum, he wants to show it to the masses – at ten cents apiece. And, oddly enough – he’s right. His way, far more people will see it and learn about the discovery. And possibly spark an interest in Egyptology.
- There’s a twist, revealed at the end of the movie (that I won’t spoil here) that makes this more that a standard mummy movie. And, in hindsight, the rest of the movie makes perfect sense.
- There’s a segment, where the history of Prince Ra and his brother are told. It’s both riveting, and plot-relevant.
- There are several scenes where the English archeologists and Egyptian archeologists arguing over the right vs. wrong of what they’re doing. And that’s interesting, and thought-inducing.
Cast of characters
- Adam Beauchamp (Terence Morgan, Captain Horatio Hornblower), a stranger that the group meets on the return voyage home. And he shows an interest in the mummy … and Annette.
- John Bray (Ronald Howard, Come September). the Egyptologist in charge of the expedition, in love with Annette.
- Alexander King (Fred Clark, Mame). the American promoter
- Annette Dubois (Jeanne Roland, Casino Royale 1967). daughter of Professor Dubois (the Egyptologist who is killed in the opening scene) and John Bray’s fiancée
- Sir Giles Dalrymple (Jack Gwillim, Jason and the Argonauts). The older English archeologist, on his final expedition before retiring. He feels rejected by his peers, and is starting to drown his sorrows in alcohol.
- Hashmi Bey (George Pastell, The Mummy 1959, Konga). representative of Egypt’s colonial government and towards the end, respectful supplicant of the Mummy
Editorial review of The Curse of the Mummy’s Tomb courtesy of Amazon.com
Handsomely photographed and deliciously eerie, THE CURSE OF THE MUMMY’S TOMB follows an expedition in Egypt as they open a cursed crypt. The leader of the excavation crew decides to give the ruins to a museum, but a fast-talking American grabs the tomb for a sideshow attraction.