Saturday, August 3, 2013
Imitations of Life
It's really remarkable how zingy the dialogue is throughout, and how uniformly excellent is the cast (including director Pollack as Hoffman's long-suffering agent). The difficulty of working with Hoffman forms a subtext to the entire picture -- Pollack refused to direct him again despite Tootsie's massive critical and commercial success. Bill Murray drifts in and out to provide a loose, improvisational Greek Chorus as Hoffman's playwright-room-mate, Jessica Lange won an Oscar for her sweet, funny performance, and everyone else is also awesome. Highly recommended.
Lee hated the heavy make-up and costuming for the Mummy, and would avoid heavy make-up ever afterwards. Like Karloff before him, he towers over the rest of the cast (there's a funny moment in which a drunk English poacher claims that the Mummy is 10-feet tall, and it doesn't seem like that much of an exaggeration). Lee is again teamed with his Dracula and Frankenstein co-star Peter Cushing, here playing the son of the archaeologist who released the vengeful mummy into the world.
The Egyptian sets and costumes are really quite impressive, as are the moody scenes set on the moor and in the swamp nearby, with some nice staging for scenes in which the Mummy emerges from, and later descends into, the swamp. Cushing makes for an interesting hero here as he did in the Dracula films as Van Helsing, and Yvonne Furneaux is lovely in the dual role of Cushing's wife and the long-dead Egyptian priestess Ananka, whom Lee's high priest loved and was ultimately mummified alive for loving.
Lee does what he can with his eyes, the only expressive part his made-up face shows, and by the end achieves a sort of lurching, Frankensteinian pathos as the Mummy. That pathos is also partially obtained by having a cultist give the Mummy his murderous orders. The Mummy really looks like he'd rather not stir from his 4000-years' sleep. Recommended.