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The Mummy’s Hand

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The Mummy’s Hand  (1940) starring Dick Foran, Wallace Ford, Peggy Moran

If there’s one deadly sin committed by  The Mummy’s Hand, it’s that it’s too slow–and I’m not talking about the shambling movement of Kharis the living mummy.   The titular mummy doesn’t make his first appearance until an hour into the movie, which has spent far too long in setting the scene.   For instance, handsome, young archaeologist Steve Banning (Dick Foran) is stuck in Egypt. Without the funds to pursue his archeological dig.   And his friend Babe Jensen (Wallace Ford) is along as comic relief.

Magician and daughter

The Mummy's Hand movie poster

But after Babe fails to swindle a fellow American they meet at a bar with a card trick (actually a traveling magician, The Great Solvani, played by Cecil Kellaway), the magician decides to fund their expedition with his life’s savings–for no clear reason.   His beautiful daughter (Peggy Moran) tracks down “the swindlers” and tries to encourage them to give back the money (with the aid of a trick pistol from their magic act). But it’s too late. The money’s been spent. And then she swiftly begins falling in love with the handsome archaeologist.

Finally …

Kharis the mummy carrying the girl in The Mummy's Hand

As I say, far too slow.   Thankfully, the movie begins with a prolonged flashback. It sets up the story of Kharis, doomed to become the mummy due to his forbidden love for the Princess Ananka.   But by the time the mummy actually starts to do anything, much of the audience’s interest has been squandered.  When the action begins, the mummy begins his typical killing of those who’ve desecrated his tomb.

Cast of characters in The Mummy’s Hand

  • Steve Banning (Dick ForanThe Black Legion).  The handsome young archeologist, whose funds have run out.
  • Babe Jenson (Wallace FordHarvey).  Steve’s best friend and comedy relief, who inadvertently make a friend in The Great Solvani.
  • The Great Solvani (Cecil Kellaway, The Invisible Man Returns).  The professional magician who decides to fund the expedition – for little reason. A loving father and enjoyable character.
  • Marta Solvani (Peggy Moran).  The Great Solvani’s daughter and stage assistant.  She initially treats Steve and Babe as swindlers. Until she goes along and begins falling in love with Steve.
  • The High Priest (Eduardo Ciannelli, Market Woman).  The “retiring” high priest in charge of the Mummy, who is transferring his knowledge and title to Andoheb.
  • Andoheb (George Zucco, The Mad Ghoul).  The villain of the movie, who directs the Mummy on his rampage. But for some reason becomes infatuated with Marta.  Leading to disaster for him …

Movie quotes from  The Mummy’s Hand  (1940)

Babe Jenson: Hey Steve, can a dame go crazy from being sawed in half too many times?  

Babe Jenson: Little girls who play with guns get hurt.  
Marta Solvani: I’ll get hurt? [fires shots into the door]  

Steve Banning: Those jackals are giving me goose pimples.  
Babe Jenson: Aw they’re giving me goose pimples on top of my goose pimples.  

Steve Banning: What happened, Babe?  
Babe Jenson: I was practicing my rock trick.  
Steve Banning: Maybe next time you should practice on a pebble.  

Andoheb: You are very beautiful … so beautiful I’m going to make you immortal. Like Kharis, you will live forever. What I can do for you I can do for myself. Neither time nor death can touch us. You and I together for eternity here in the Temple of Karnak. You shall be my high priestess.  

Trivia for  The Mummy’s Hand

  • To make the mummy appear more frightening, Tom Tyler’s eyes (and the inside of his mouth) were blacked out frame-by-frame in almost all close-ups.
  • For the scenes in which the Mummy was seen in close-up or medium shots, Jack P. Pierce’s painstaking makeup technique of gluing strips of cotton on Tom Tyler’s face, to create deep wrinkles, was employed. But in long shots, Tyler wears a time-saving (and much more comfortable) rubber mask.
  • Marta’s trick six-shooter fires ten shots yet puts twelve holes in the door.

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