Thursday, December 20, 2007
The Mummy very closely parallels the studio's classic from the year before, Dracula. Karl Freund, cinematographer for Dracula, was the director of The Mummy and scenes very much resemble each other. Some cast members of Dracula, such as David Manners and Edward Van Sloan, appear in similar roles. Some critics have called The Mummy an instant remake of Dracula, produced so the studio could cash in.
The Mummy was not based on an earlier novel or play, but those familiar with the lesser known works of Arthur Conan Doyle may notice some striking similarities between the film and Doyle's short story "The Ring Of Thoth" (to be found in "The Captain Of The Polestar"). If there is any debt on the part of the film's writers, it has never been acknowledged.
The film used names for the mummy and his wife from history and from word play. The name "Ardath Bey" is a pig Latin rendering of Karloff's often-mimicked pronunciation of his own first name and also an anagram of "death by Ra". Imhotep, the mummy's real name, was the first famous Egyptian architect, living in the Old Kingdom, while Ankhesenamun was the wife of the pharaoh Tutankhamun from the New Kingdom.
Although the Mummy wasn't on screen for more than ten minutes (and for long shots a wrapped dummy appears to have been used), Boris Karloff wore a whole body suit and a highly elaborate eight-hour makeup job for the short time he was on screen.
Boris Karloff was billed as KARLOFF on film posters, dropping his first name for several years during this period when his career was at its height before reverting back to both names by the time Son of Frankenstein was produced.