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 ...
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Noble-born cad Denis (Stapley) has been tricked into a forced stay at the eerie manor of the Sire de Maletroit (Laughton), an evil madman who can't get over the death of his beloved, twenty... See full summary »
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>
Rathbone and Karloff in chilling historical melodrama...
The bloody history of England has always been a ripe subject for films and this one is no exception. BASIL RATHBONE has quite a field day playing the ruthless and unscrupulous man who would later become Richard III and BORIS KARLOFF is his faithful executioner in this story of royalty run amok.
Rathbone is willing to commit murders brutal and grotesque in order to stop anyone else from getting in the way of the throne. But the film is flawed by a muddled script which has to deal with too much exposition in the way of explaining all the character relationships and the various nobles involved.
Karloff is quite effective as the executioner but really has little to do except sharpen his blades and deal roughly with various prisoners. It's not the sort of role he could really do anything deeper with. VINCENT PRICE shows promise in a good supporting role as Edward. He has an unforgettable scene in a wine contest with Rathbone wherein he eventually falls into a drunken stupor and is thrown into a vat of wine by Karloff and Rathbone.
JOHN SUTTON at least gets more screen exposure than he usually got in his early years as a second string actor, mostly in Warner films with Flynn and Davis. NAN GREY does nicely as his loyal sweetheart who is reunited with him for the finale.
Not quite as chilling today as it was when I saw it years ago and much of it is too labored with exposition of historical facts.
TCM is showing an excellent print that demonstrates how expertise the cameramen were with their B&W cinematography.
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