The Movie: The Mummy (1959)
What Is It?: This is not one of Jimmy Sangster’s cleverest scripts, but Christopher Lee gets to upstage costar Peter Cushing for the first time. Spending much of the movie wrapped in dirty bandages, his face caked in Egyptian mud, Lee is still more sympathetic as lovelorn Kharis than he was in his earlier monster roles. He also gets some quality face time and dialogue during a lavish, 13-minute sequence reimagining the mummification scene from the original Mummy, though without reaching similar heights of claustrophobia-inducing terror and all of the brown-face makeup the white actors play while impersonating Egyptians is pretty off-putting. The greatest triumph of The Mummy is that of director Terence Fisher, cinematographer Jack Asher, and their brilliant art department. The team’s use of colored lights, painted backdrops, spectacular costumes and props, and sets cluttered with detail make the whole picture look like a canvass thick with rich oils.
Why Today?: On this day in 1952, the Egyptian Revolution of 1952 begins.