Movie Review: The Mummy (1959)

Synopsis: In 1898, three years after discovering the tomb of Princess Ananka in Egypt and bringing her mummified corpse and artifacts to the British Museum, archaeologist John Banning, along with his father and uncle, are hunted down by Kharis, a 4000-year-old mummy tasked with protecting Ananka. 

Who's in it? The movie stars Peter Cushing, Christopher Lee, Yvonne Furneaux, Eddie Byrne and George Pastell.


Review: My wife and daughters were out shopping most of the day yesterday so, after finishing some tasks I wanted to do, I killed some time watching movies. I came across this film and, having never seen it, decided to give it a chance. While I didn't like it as much as the 1999 Brendan Fraser version (still my favorite), this one still ended up being fairly decent.

I think the thing I liked most about this movie was just how bad-ass Kharis (Lee) was. Unlike some other versions of this story (including the 1932 Boris Karloff version), this movie's mummy was somewhat terrifying with the way he would break down doors and was pretty much unstoppable. In fact, the mummy was so strong, it made me wonder if John (Cushing) would be able to survive the movie.

Having Kharis under the control of a loyal follower, Mehemet (Pastel), was a nice addition to the movie as well, mostly because it added a bit of unpredictability. On one hand, Mehemet added an additional threat, as shown later in the movie. On the other hand, he was the one person keeping Kharis from going on a full-scale killing rampage, meaning the heroes couldn't just knock him out of the picture.

I did think this movie could have been slightly better had it cut back on the excessive exposition and unnecessary conversations. Don't get me wrong, the flashback explaining Kharis' story was informative and entertaining but that scene did seem like it was dragging on more than it needed to be, especially when the movie insisted on showing every single detail of Ananka's funeral. I'm also not sure the movie really needed that conversation between John and Mehemet, debating whether or not archaeology was ethical. After all, Mehemet's point of view was pretty much explained when started using Kharis to kill John's family.

My only other complaint about the movie is I wish it would have spent a bit more time on John's wife, Isobel (Furneaux), and her resemblance to Ananka. It as a great coincidence that ultimately works to his advantage, but I just feel like the movie could have spent a bit more time explaining that coincidence and maybe even worked it into the script more - perhaps with a twist that involved her actually being Ananka (brought back to life by Kharis before he was caught). As it stood, it was OK. Had it been fleshed out a bit more, this could have been a much more intriguing part of the movie.

Final Opinion: It's not my favorite version of this movie but, after seeing it, I think it is easily in the top three. At minimum, Lee's performance makes this worth watching at least once.

My Grade: B

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