Decades of Horror: The Classic Era Episode 11 — The Mummy (1932)Directed by famed cinematographer Karl Freund, The Mummy was Universal Studio’s response to the public’s apparent thirst for horror films while simultaneously taking advantage of the free marketing created by the discovery and archeological excavation of King Tutankhamun’s tomb. There had even been a story in the New York Times sensationalizing the tomb’s alleged curse by counting off fourteen associated deaths. Universal’s Carl Laemmle Jr. knew the foundation for a film legend when he saw one and he set writers Richard Shayer, Nina Wilcox Putnam, and John Balderston to work. Laemmle next paired Boris Karloff, fresh off Frankenstein (1931) and The Old Dark House (1932), with legendary Universal Studios makeup artist Jack Pierce; added the talented stage actor Zita Johann as the female lead; and rounded off the cast with supporting regulars Edward Van Sloan, David Manners, Noble Johnson, Arthur Byron, and Bramwell Fletcher. Thus a film icon was born. Listen as we discuss the answers to these questions: How did Zita Johann and Karl Freund get along? How did the story morph from Putnam’s and Shayer’s vision of Allesandro Cagliostro to Balderston’s Imhotep? Why take a chance on first time director Karl Freund? What does Dracula (1931) have to do with The Mummy? For that matter, what does The Mummy have to do with 150 episodes of I Love Lucy (1951-56)? Or Red Planet Mars (1952)? Or the 1961-64 seasons of Mister Ed? How does The Mummy’s classic poster rank historically? If you’re paying attention, you’ll also hear which of us makes these comments:
- “The voices and speech patterns of some of the other actors struck me as just this side of the helium tank at times.”
- “Even without the mummified makeup he’s still a creepy-looking dude.”
- “I’m not sure what you’re asking.” “Neither am I. You’re just supposed to come up with an answer.”
- “He gives birth to one of the most unrealistic man-screams in the history of Hollywood.”
- Hear our second reference to The Honeymooners and our second reference to Iron Maiden.
- Hear Chad say Ankh-es-en-amon at least 6 times without stumbling once.