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Tower of London (1939)

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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 ... See full summary »



(original screen play)
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Title: Tower of London (1939)

Tower of London (1939) on IMDb 6.8/10

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Cast overview, first billed only:
Richard - Duke of Gloucester
Ian Hunter ...
Nan Grey ...
Lady Alice Barton
Ernest Cossart ...
Tom Clink
John Sutton ...
John Wyatt
Miles Mander ...
Lionel Belmore ...
Rose Hobart ...
Boy King Edward
John Herbert-Bond ...
Young Prince Richard
Ralph Forbes ...


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 <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Drama | History


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Release Date:

17 November 1939 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Tower of London  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Mirrophonic Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


The August 3, 1939 Louella Parsons column announced that George Sanders was to play Edward IV. The part ultimately went to Ian Hunter. See more »


(at around 15 mins) A person can be seen walking past the window. See more »


Mord: [to Richard] You're more than a king, more than a man. You're a god to me!
See more »


Referenced in The Best of Sex and Violence (1981) See more »

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User Reviews

Murder, Malmsey & Medieval Madness.
10 May 2012 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

Tower of London is directed by Rowland V. Lee and written by Robert N. Lee. It stars Basil Rathbone, Boris Karloff, Vincent Price, Barbara O'Neil and Ian Hunter. Music is collaborated by Ralph Freed, Hans J. Salter and Frank Skinner and cinematography by George Robinson.

Out of Universal Pictures, film is a reworking of how Richard III (Rathbone) rose to become King of England by scheming and killing off those ahead of him in line to the throne.

No square headed or fang sprouting monsters in this Universal Picture, this is about human monsters, splendidly played out with historical observation. It's 1471 and we are involved in shifty shenanigans, torture, war, infanticide and depravity. All played out amongst classic Universal backdrops; of which the titular Tower is a prominently gloomy force. There's much decadence to be found and gruesome deaths are interlaced with medieval malarkey such as a wine drinking competition to the death! Some deliciously macabre scenes land in the conscious and stay there, none more so than with Richard's returning visits to his Royal figurines! All good dastardly fun.

Story has a lot going on, so paying attention is heartily recommended to get the best out of Lee's screenplay. Characterisations are rich with period flavours, especially the villains, where Rathbone is wide eyed, edgy and maniacal, and the irrepressible Karloff a hulking grotesque who takes pride in his position as chief torturer. Robinson's photography is suitably atmospheric, with the misty marsh laden battle at the finale particularly striking: the latter of which also finding director Lee on good camera form as he fluidly tracks the mud, blood and swinging of steel.

Sure some of it's unintentionally smile inducing, and that final battle needed to be considerably longer, but all told it's classical period stuff that does have some serious humanistic themes at its core. 7.5/10

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