Wednesday, January 25, 2012

TOWER OF LONDON - Frank Skinner - "A God Unto Himself" (1939)

You've had over 60 years to see "Tower Of London!" The movie was made in 1939, and is just as classic as "Frankenstein" or "Dracula!" Why this film is not shown in classrooms across the globe is anybody's guess, because in a sane world, it would be mandatory, but we don't live in a sane world, now do we?

A time when forward was actually backward, not so different from today! Watch this movie and you'll never ever wonder again why the masses hate the rich, the politicians, and the royalty of the world! "Tower Of London" comes right out and says it, they're all a bunch of cutthroat evil bastards of the lowest kind, and yet they wield all the power!

Workhorse composer Frank Skinner has some 266 composing credits, and the vast majority, like this film are uncredited. Frank did get credits on "Hellzapopin'" but on movies like "The Invisible Man Returns," "The Mummy's Hand," and "The Wolf Man," he was sinfully just 'the guy' who provided the music!

Boris Karloff is Mord the executioner and the dude in charge of the torture dungeon! Check out the raven perched on his shoulder!

Mord decides this guy ain't hurting enough, so he adds on another weight! Look how he has different size weights, so he can distribute the discomfort and pain to his liking!

Boris! What a piece of work!

The King is dead! Long live the King! Just a little bit unclear on the whole royalty concept! Miles Manders is King Henry VI.

Leo G. Carroll has the role of Lord Hastings! Leo has a permanent spot in The Dungeon Hall of Fame, not only for his archetypal role in "Tarantula," but also for his masterful TV caricatures in 53 episodes of everybody's favourite ghost show "Topper," and for another 102 episodes of "The Man From U.N.C.L.E." as the man in the know, Alexander Waverly!

One of the first squared circles has an early Gorilla Monsoon doing the blow by blow commentary!

Long before "All The Young Dudes," Ian Hunter has the role of King Edward The IV, and Basil Rathbone is his brother, Richard - the Duke of Gloucester, or as Frank Zappa would say, "The Duke Of Prunes!" It's a dog eat dog world, and the play fighting is fun, but Richard really doesn't like playing second fiddle to his brother, and has some grandiose plans for his family members! Indeed, Richard is a real Dick!

The brothers were so busy playing around that the King is almost late for the execution, that's what kind of a caring person he is! His wife, Barbara O'Neil as Queen Elyzabeth makes an appearance, but doesn't really like these kinds of events, and would much rather be home with her kids!

John Rodion as the about to be executed Lord Devere, and his pal John Sutton as John Wyatt, the Queen's cousin, are added to the basic tale of Shakespeare's "Richard the III" to flesh out the tale a bit! John Sutton was also in two classic Vincent Price films in 1959, "The Bat," and "Return Of The Fly!" John Rodion was only ever in one other film, "The Dawn Patrol," made a year earlier! John Rodion's birth name was actually Basil Rodion Rathbone! That's right, he was Basil Rathbone's son, but raised by his Mother, because they split up when he was two!

Mord and Richard make quite a couple! Richard is a hunchback, and Mord has a clubfoot, but together, they plan to rule the world!

While not exactly a true horror story, "Tower Of London" is pretty creepy, especially this little dollhouse that Richard has of his family. One by one he knocks them all off!

Dungeon Hall of Famer Vincent Price is Richard's younger brother, George, the Duke of Clarence. This was only Vinnie's third appearance on the big screen!

The combination of Boris's chrome dome, and those helmets, makes this scene where they take John Wyatt down, look like it could have come from some Space Ranger serial!

Richard is the master bastard of working both sides, or maybe even three sides at the same time!

These people are unscrupulous and will stoop at nothing to set themselves up, including forced marriages of children and even killing them when they become the next heir to the throne!

This would be a good candidate for one of those 'Come up with a caption for this picture' contests! I don't know why, I just like this shot! Everybody just looks so suspicious!

Richard tells George he can beat him in any kind of contest, so George challenges Richard to the only thing he knows he can win, a drinking contest!

It's a great piece of cinematic history after many rounds of wine, George does beat Richard who is totally passed out, and is just getting the last laugh when.......

......Richard miraculously comes back to life!!

After knocking him out, Richard and Mord stuff George in a vat of wine, and put the lid on it!

Sorry Basil, the secret is out, "Tower Of London" is not history, but it is a great story! I don't even particularily like period pieces, but this is a good one! Last time I checked, it was still available on Netflix!


Prof. Grewbeard said...

a towering classic! love this one. beautiful choice of grabs.

Christopher said...

hump back and dragfoot ride again!

D. McEwan said...

Ah yes, Shakespeare without all that cumberson immortal poetry.

It is indeed a pretty good movie (the director went right on to direct Son of Frankenstein also with Karloff and Rathbone. If only Vinnie had been in that also!), and I think it does qualify as a full-out horror movie. Hardly history. Mord for one is a fictional character.

Rathbone, Karloff and Vinnie the P were not all three in the same movie again until the wonderful 1964 Comedy of Terrors, also covered in this blog. (Why wasn't Peter Lorre in Tower of London? He is missed.)

It was Vinnie's first initiation into the world he would inhabit. And of course, he starred in the Roger Corman remake, playing the Rathbone role. And then, still later, he played Richard III again in Theater of Blood. So Vinnie got drowned in a butt of malmsy (Which Karloff and Rathbone had "hilariously" filled with floating cigarette butts before the shot) once, and drowned others in that butt twice. Having been the drowned one, he learned to take the other role, and just put up with the hump.

Exeter said...

I'd watch this one here at home, but it is on one of those dreaded "un-numbered" VHS tapes, some of which could be in a tub in the basement, labeled, "VHS Tapes I'll never have time to watch". Oh, the horror, the horror.

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