In 1921 a field expedition in Egypt discovers the mummy of ancient Egyptian prince Im-Ho-Tep, who was condemned and buried alive for sacrilege. Also found in the tomb is the Scroll of Thoth, which can bring the dead back to life. One night a young member of the expedition reads the Scroll out loud, and then goes insane, realizing that he has brought Im-Ho-Tep back to life. Ten years later, disguised as a modern Egyptian, the mummy attempts to reunite with his lost love, an ancient princess who has been reincarnated into a beautiful young woman.Written by
Jeremy Lunt <email@example.com>
African-American actor Noble Johnson was chosen to play the Nubian who becomes a servant to Imhotep. The idea of the descendant of a supposed ancient black African civilization showing deference to an ancient Egyptian fit well with racial attitudes when the film was made. Nubia is, however, not very far south of the Nile delta, and the people of the Nubian civilization were mostly of the same racial stock as the Egyptians. Moreover, Egypt and Nubia coexisted peacefully for most of their history, and when they did not, Egypt was as often subjugated by Nubia as the other way around. See more »
The film was copyrighted 14 December 1932 but on the opening title it bears a 1933 (MCMXXXIII) copyright statement, apparently because the title credits were designed in advance, in anticipation of a later release. See more »
Although frequently reinterpreted, the original 1932 THE MUMMY remains the most intriguing film version of a story inspired by both 1920s archaeological finds and the 1931 Bela Lugosi Dracula: when an over-eager archaeologist reads an incantation from an ancient scroll, he unexpectedly reanimates a mysterious mummy--who then seeks reunion with the princess for whom he died thousands of years earlier and ultimately finds his ancient love reincarnated in modern-day Egypt.
Less a typical horror film than a Gothic romance with an Egyptian setting, THE MUMMY has few special effects of any kind and relies primarily upon atmosphere for impact--and this it has in abundance: although leisurely told, the film possesses a darkly romantic, dreamlike quality that lingers in mind long after the film is over. With one or two exceptions, the cast plays with remarkable restraint, with Boris Karloff as the resurrected mummy and Zita Johann (a uniquely beautifully actress) standouts in the film. The sets are quite remarkable, and the scenes in which Karloff permits his reincarnated lover to relive the ancient past are particularly effective.
Kids raised on wham-bam action and special effects films will probably find the original THE MUMMY slow and uninteresting, but the film's high quality and disquieting atmosphere will command the respect of both fans of 1930s horror film and the more discerning viewer. Of all the 1930s Universal Studio horror films, THE MUMMY is the most subtle--and the one to which I personally return most often.
Gary F. Taylor, aka GFT, Amazon Reviewer
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