Tower of London (1939 film)

Tower of London (1939 film)

Infobox Film | name = Tower of London

caption =
director = Rowland V. Lee
producer = Rowland V. Lee
writer = Robert N. Lee
starring = Basil Rathbone
Boris Karloff
Vincent Price
music = Ralph Freed
Hans J. Salter
Frank Skinner
cinematography = George Robinson
editing = Edward Curtiss
distributor = Universal Pictures
released =
runtime = 92 minutes
language = English
budget =
amg_id = 1:50618
imdb_id = 0032049

"Tower of London" is a 1939 black-and-white historical film released by Universal Pictures and directed by Rowland V. Lee. Sold to audiences as a horror film in the Universal cycle because of the teaming of Basil Rathbone and Boris Karloff, it is nothing of the kind, although Karloff does play a genuinely creepy character. It stars Rathbone as the future Richard III of England, and Karloff as his fictitious club-footed executioner Mord. Vincent Price appears as the Duke of Clarence. This film is often cited as his first thriller. Actor John Rodion, who appears in a small role, is actually Rodion Rathbone, Basil's son.

The film is based on the traditional depiction of Richard rising to become King of England by eliminating everyone ahead of him. Each time Richard accomplishes a murder, he removes one figurine from a dollhouse resembling a throneroom. Once he has completed his task, he now needs to defeat the exiled Henry Tudor to retain the throne.

The plot was not derived from Shakespeare's "Richard III", but rather was written by Robert N. Lee (director Rowland V. Lee's brother) after reading a great deal of British history. George, Duke of Clarence (one of Richard's brothers) is depicted as something less than the tragically noble figure found in Shakespeare. Ian Hunter portrays Edward IV, who is not depicted here as the feeble, dying King found in Laurence Olivier's 1955 film version of Shakespeare's play.

The film inspired a 1962 remake with Vincent Price now in the lead role. The remake was made on an extremely low budget, was shot in black-and-white with a small cast (and used stock footage from the 1939 version for the battle sequences), and placed far more of an emphasis on genuine horror. Price later told Rathbone's biographer Michael Druxman that he felt Rathbone's performance as Richard was probably more historically genuine than either Laurence Olivier's or his own.


* Basil Rathbone - Richard - Duke of Gloucester
* Boris Karloff - Mord
* Barbara O'Neil - Queen Elyzabeth
* Ian Hunter - King Edward IV
* Vincent Price - Duke of Clarence
* Nan Grey - Lady Alice Barton
* Ernest Cossart - Tom Clink
* John Sutton - John Wyatt
* Leo G. Carroll - Lord Hastings
* Miles Mander - King Henry VI
* Lionel Belmore - Beacon - a Chamberlain
* Rose Hobart - Anne Neville
* Ronald Sinclair - Boy King Edward
* John Herbert-Bond - Boy Prince Richard
* Ralph Forbes - Henry Tudor

ee also

* Boris Karloff filmography

External links

* [ Turner Classic Movies review with production notes]

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