Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Tower of London (1939)

Director: Rowland V. Lee

Writer: Robert N. Lee

Composer: Frank Skinner

Starring: Basil Rathbone, Boris Karloff, Barbara O'Neil, Ian Hunter, Vincent Price, Nan Grey, Ernest Cossart, John Sutton, Leo G. Carroll, Miles Mander, Lionel Belmore, Rose Hobart, Ronald Sinclair

More info: IMDb

Tagline: In the story of this diabolical, misshapen figure, the screen presents a spectacle of unequalled magnitude...the wide-swept furies of a nation driven to maniacal revolt...the shadow of a bestial-faced executioner...a populace screaming for revenge!

Plot: 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.

My rating: 8/10

Will I watch it again? Yes.

Great story, great performances, great actors, great scenery, great fun.  Seeing Price so young is wild and his drinking bout with Rathbone is fucking great. Rathbone is one ruthless mo-fo in this picture.  I really dig these costume dramas and they were really good at them back in the 30s.  I like the idea of having a toy court made up for Richard (Rathbone) to remove the dolls of the people who stand in his way to the throne. He's such a cold bastard that it's easy not to like him but then it's Basil fucking Rathbone so you kinda want to see him make it.  KIND HEARTS AND CORONETS (1949) has a similar premise but TOWER is a much better film and not played for dark laughs.  I REALLY liked this film and I'm looking forward to seeing it again someday.  It's one of 5 great (so far) films in the first volume of Universal's The Boris Karloff Collection.  The other films come with a trailer but not this one which may explain why there isn't one anywhere online.  It's a wonderful set and a must-have for Karloff fans.

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