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In the 15th century Richard Duke of Gloucester, aided by his club-footed executioner Mord, eliminates those ahead of him in succession to the throne, then occupied by his brother King Edward IV of England. As each murder is accomplished he takes particular delight in removing small figurines, each resembling one of the successors, from a throne-room dollhouse, until he alone remains. After the death of Edward he becomes Richard III, King of England, and need only defeat the exiled Henry Tudor to retain power. Written by
Doug Sederberg <email@example.com>
No, It's not Shakespeare. Nor is it supposed to be.
It's unfair to compare this horror movie of the pre-WW2 vintage to Richard III of the Bard. While the Tower of London builds on Shakespeare's vilification of Richard III, this tale is much more of a dark genre that was popular at that time and which continued up until after WW2. These are the days of Revenge of the Cat People, Frankenstein and its sequels and other films that strike the mood of those post depression times. The censors of the time forbade any explicit sex or violence and what you saw was always highly stylized. However, presenting a stylized horror film, mild, if not downright tame, by today's standards, required a great deal of subtlety from the actors, which is something sadly lacking in today's slice 'n dice menus. These new horror films are so predictable and rely on gore and explicit violence to provide the thrill which like pornography requires each new presentation to up the ante in mindless antics, each trying to out-gross the previous. So, what have we here in this fine old film. The classic tale of Richard Crook-back. We have the great Basil Rathbone as the Black Duke and Boris Karloff as his fictional sidekick, Mord. Yes, Karloff is nearly a stereotype for the evil henchmen who's willing to carry out the furious demands of his heartless master. But, there's a young Vinnie Price as the Duke of Clarence awaiting a drowning in a vat of Mumsey wine. The action line of this classic story moves quickly, the lines are spoken clearly and the the acting is superb. What else do you want from a 1939 horror drama?
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