The Mummy, 1959
Directed by Terence Fisher

Written by Jimmy Sangster

Produced by
Michael Carreras, Anthony Nelson Keys

Peter Cushing..:.. John Banning
Christopher Lee..:.. Kharis, the Mummy
Yvonne Furneaux..:..Isobel Banning/Princess Ananka
Eddie Byrne..:..Inspector Mulrooney
Felix Aylmer..:..Stephen Banning
Raymond Huntley..:..Joseph Whemple
George Pastell..:..Mehemet Bey/Mehemet Akir
The 1959 Hammer version of The Mummy is one of the better of the many mummy films available.  
The story starts out in Egypt, 1895, where Stephen Banning [Felix Aylmer], his brother-in-law,
Joseph Whemple [Raymond Huntley], and Stephen's son, John  [Peter Cushing], are searching for
the tomb of the Princess Ananka [Yvonne Furneaux]. Ananka, also a priestess of the god Karnak,
had disappeared while on a pilgrimage thousands of years earlier, and her entire party vanished,
but legends state that she had died on the journey and her body entombed along the way.  When
they do find the tomb, only Stephen and Joseph actually enter, because John had broken his leg.  
Just prior to their entry, they are warned "He who robs the graves of Egypt, dies!" by an Egyptian
man, Mehemet Bey [George Pastell], but the two men proceed anyway.  When Joseph leaves the
previously undisturbed burial chamber to tell John the good news, they've found what they'd been
searching for, Stephen continues to putter around finding a niche containing the Scroll of Life.
Moving this releases a mechanism, that causes a door to swing open… as Joseph is telling John
that they've truly found Ananka's burial place, a terrified shriek is heard and Joseph runs back to
find Stephen sprawled over the coffin, blubbering and incoherent.  Six months or so later, Stephen
is in a nursing home back in England, John and Joseph have removed everything out of the tomb,
and the entrance is sealed.  Bey, a modern-day disciple of Karnak, watches and vows to get into
the tomb, find the method to destroy those who have violated the tomb, no matter how long it
takes.  Three years later, in England, Stephen becomes lucid enough to warn John about the other
mummy in the tomb, the one that came to life when he read the scroll.  John, who hadn't seen
another mummy or a scroll, gently reminds his father of this, and sadly leaves, believing his father
still to be unsound of mind.  Meanwhile, Bey has brought "relics" to Egypt, in a large crate that is
thrown off it's delivery cart into a marshy pond, a bog, near Stephen Banning's nursing home, but
that doesn't stop Bey from raising The Mummy [Christopher Lee] by reciting the prayers from the
Scroll of Life.   The Mummy has been brought to England, to wreak vengeance on those who'd
entered the tomb of his beloved Ananka. 4,000 years ago he'd been the High Priest of Karnak,
Kharis, who was secretly been in love with Ananka. As a priestess, Ananka was bound to the god
himself, but with death her vows were no longer binding, so Kharis broke into the sealed tomb to
try to bring her back to life so they could be together. Kharis was discovered in the act of trying
to raise her, and was punished first by having his tongue cut out, so his cries wouldn't offend the
gods, then he was wrapped and buried alive behind a panel in Ananka's tomb, to guard it for
eternity.  Thus, when Bey called for him using the Scroll, Kharis had no choice but to return to
life, to avenge the sacrilegious entry into the tomb. However, Bey's plans may go awry, because of
an unexpected twist - John Banning's beautiful wife Isobel [also portrayed by Yvonne Furneaux]
looks remarkably like the long-dead princess.

As I mentioned earlier, this mummy movie is very good, and has remained extremely watch-able and
entertaining, even now, well over 40 years later. The scene where Kharis breaks into Stephen
Banning's padded cell, as his cries for help are ignored as the rantings of a madman, is really quite
scary.  The story is well done, and especially noteworthy are the performances of classic horror
stars, Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee.  Sadly, Mr. Cushing is no longer with us, but Mr. Lee,
whose imposing size and wonderfully expressive eyes have served him well, has worked steadily as
an actor, continuing now to ply his craft, most recently in the Lord of the Rings triology as the
wizard Saruman.
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