Tower-Of-London There are some things you need to know before I get into the detail of Tower of London and what I thought of it:

  • I absolutely worship Basil Rathbone, have since I was quite young when I used to spend Friday evenings with my Grandpa (while Gran was at bingo) watching black and white films on BBC2 (before Pot Black and the weekly fish supper) which included all the Sherlock Holmes films Basil did with Nigel Bruce
  • I love movies with the old horror stars and got into a discussion on Twitter with Anne Billson about how lovely all of them were, from Peter Lorre to John Carradine, which made me decide to watch this one
  • when it comes to the Wars of the Roses I am firmly Lancastrian based entirely on a passion developed for John of Gaunt due to reading Anya Seton’s Katherine as an impressionable teenager, all subsequent evidence discovered during studying for my history degree to the contrary, so duh Richard III did bump off the Princes in the Tower IMHO, which means he is a baddie, suitable for a Shakespearian horror movie.

What’s it all about?

In the 15th century Richard Duke of Gloucester, aided by his club-footed executioner Mord, eliminates those ahead of him in succession to the throne, then occupied by his brother King Edward IV of England. As each murder is accomplished he takes particular delight in removing small figurines, each resembling one of the successors, from a throne-room dollhouse, until he alone remains. After the death of Edward he becomes Richard III, King of England, and need only defeat the exiled Henry Tudor to retain power.

That’s actually the whole picture in a nutshell. Though does a body swerve around the whole what happened to the young princes thing.

Why did I want to see it?

All of the stuff above but mostly the fact that it’s one of those films that never gets shown on the telly and I had never, ever seen it all the way through, and it’s one of the few of Basil’s films that I had never watched. So thrilled when it was brought out on DVD recently. Was going to watch it as a double bill with Son of Frankenstein (an all-time favourite) last Hallowe’en but *whispers* I forgot.

What did I think of it?

imagesHuge fun. Basil is dashing, in the version of Richard III who is tall, handsome, and intelligently villainous with a minor hump and a good line in velvet doublets. The thing with the figurines is a bit camp (I like to imagine him talking to them as he plans his takeover of the world). Ian Hunter does his usual loudly jolly King with dodgy younger brother (see Adventures of Robin Hood where he is Richard the Lion Heart). Vincent Price does a wonderful line of drunken snivelling before he ends up in the butt of Malmsey.

My only quibble is there is insufficient Boris Karloff, though Mord is always brilliant when he is on screen. And wow there is a lot of striding purposefully and declaiming dialogue and what about the medieval mascara?

Dated, of course, but so glad I saw it.