Saturday, October 26, 2013

ON THE SET OF 'THE MUMMY', 1932


This interesting monster movie arti-film-fact appears in all likelihood to be a promotional shot, photographed by "Bragg" for the December 1932 issue of PHOTOPLAY magazine. The scene is a set from Universal's THE MUMMY and it depicts various elements that are never seen on screen.


The 2-page spread is titled, The Great Pyramids Move to Hollywood and an Egyptian Mummy Comes to Life!, and shows a number of the characters who are found all together only in this shot and not in the film itself. David Manners is seated in the cab along with Zita Johann, who is dressed in her vestal garb seen at the end of the film. Noble Johnson, who plays the Nubian of Mueller's (Edward van Sloan) "Ancient Blood", peers through the window of the cab. Just outside is Boris Karloff in his Ardath Bey makeup, holding up an object -- the car keys perhaps? The caption reads that Karloff was only in this makeup for three minutes onscreen, so it refers to the opening sequence, when we see him as Im-ho-tep, not as Ardath Bey. Over his shoulder appears to be the unidentified actor who plays the security guard in the Cairo Museum and who is done in by Ardath Bey near the beginning of the film. The seated rotund personage is Karl Freund, the director of THE MUMMY.

Detail of the 2-page PHOTOPLAY spread of THE MUMMY set.
 The caption explains that a Universal employee was sent to Egypt in order to photograph various scenery so that backgrounds in the film could be as realistic as possible. The scene shown in this photograph is set up to use rear projection during the sequence when Manners and van Sloan are in the taxi together at approximately 44m.

The caption goes on to say: "Karloff achieves the one of the greatest feats of screen make-up yet known." John P. Fulton received screen credit for his less-than-spectacular special effect of lap dissolving the Ardath Bey/Im-ho-tep character at the end of the film. Ironically, the "greatest feat of screen make-up" was really achieved by the uncredited Jack P. Pierce, who had previously gone uncredited for his Frankenstein monster makeup the previous year. Other notable creative luminaries were uncredited as well: Vera West for costumes and Willy Pogany for art direction.

THE MUMMY was released in the U.S. on December 22, 1932. It is unknown exactly when the December edition of PHOTOPLAY hit the newsstands, but it was probably a few weeks before, and the picture spread was used to promote the film.

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