Bil’s rating (out of 5): BB.5. USA, 1940. Universal Pictures. Story by Griffin Jay, Screenplay by Griffin Jay, Maxwell Shane, based on a 1932 screenplay by John L. Balderston, Nina Wilcox Putnam and Richard Schayer. Cinematography by Elwood Bredell. Produced by Ben Pivar. Music by Hans J. Salter, Frank Skinner. Production Design by Jack Otterson, Russell A. Gausman. Costume Design by Vera West. Film Editing by Philip Cahn.
Universal brought their 1932 hit back to the big screen with wan results that tread on more or less the same ground, leaving Boris Karloff behind and giving the villainous creature a name (Kharis), a purpose (the love of the princess Ananka) and a method (kept alive by those darn tana leaves). A struggling archeaologist and his trusty, goofy sidekick find a broken vase in a Cairo bazaar that they believe contains a map to the tomb of Princess Ananka, but their efforts are quickly poo-pooed by a museum employee who also turns out to be the latest in a long line of guardians keeping the creepy mummy alive. Tom Tyler plays the creature in this one and, despite the blandness of the plot otherwise, the film does contain a number of genuinely creepy shots of his hollow-eyed face closing in on his victims. That and some lovely production design (closer to the Purple Rose of Cairo than anything accurately Egyptological) boost the pleasure of something that is, otherwise, not nearly as memorable as its predecessor. Lon Chaney would take over the role in the next Mummy film.