Newest Reviews
Dying to Divorce
Bad Luck Banging or Loony Porn
Trouble with Being Born, The
Last Matinee, The
Strings, The
Free Hand for a Tough Cop
People Just Do Nothing: Big in Japan
Dear Future Children
Accidental Luxuriance of the Translucent Watery Rebus
Thin Red Line, The
Petite Maman
Fast & Furious 9
Sundown: The Vampire in Retreat
Sweet Thing
Father, The
Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings
Night House, The
Father of Flies
80,000 Years Old
Dead & Beautiful
Whisker Away, A
Wild Indian
Whale Island
Chuck Steel: Night of the Trampires
Don't Breathe 2
Closing Time
Weathering with You
Rim of the World
Love & Basketball
JLA Adventures: Trapped in Time
Newest Articles
The Punk Rock Movie: Out of the Blue on Blu-ray
Yeah, Too Quiet: The Great Silence on Blu-ray
Vestron Double Bill: Dementia 13 and The Wraith
Farewell Dean Stockwell: His Years of Weirdness
Kung Fu Craft: Cinematic Vengeance! on Blu-ray
999 Letsbe Avenue: Gideon's Way on Blu-ray
Hungary for Cartoons: Hungarian Animations on MUBI
You Have No Choice: Invasion of the Body Snatchers on Blu-ray
You Can't Tame What's Meant to Be Wild: The Howling on Blu-ray
Commendably Brief: Short Sharp Shocks Vol. 2 on Blu-ray
Super Silents: Early Universal Vol. 2 on Blu-ray
Fable Fear: The Singing Ringing Tree on Blu-ray
Gunsight Eyes: The Sabata Trilogy on Blu-ray
Bloody Bastard Baby: The Monster/I Don't Want to Be Born on Blu-ray
Night of the Animated Dead: Director Jason Axinn Interview
The ParaPod: A Very British Ghost Hunt - Interview with Director/Star Ian Boldsworth
On the Right Track: Best of British Transport Films Vol. 2
The Guns of Nutty Joan: Johnny Guitar on Blu-ray
Intercourse Between Two Worlds: Twin Peaks Fire Walk with Me/The Missing Pieces on Blu-ray
Enjoy the Silents: Early Universal Vol. 1 on Blu-ray
Masterful: The Servant on Blu-ray
70s Sitcom Dads: Bless This House and Father Dear Father on Blu-ray
Going Under: Deep Cover on Blu-ray
Child's Play: Children's Film Foundation Bumper Box Vol. 3 on DVD
Poetry and Motion: Great Noises That Fill the Air on DVD
  Tower of London Put Up Your Dukes
Year: 1939
Director: Rowland V. Lee
Stars: Basil Rathbone, Boris Karloff, Barbara O'Neil, Ian Hunter, Vincent Price, Nan Grey, Ernest Cossart, John Sutton, Leo G. Carroll, Miles Mander, Lionel Belmore, Rose Hobart, Ronald Sinclair, John Herbert-Bond, Ralph Forbes, Frances Robinson, Donnie Dunagan
Genre: Horror, HistoricalBuy from Amazon
Rating:  6 (from 1 vote)
Review: The year is 1471, and the weak King Henry has been deposed by a new monarch, King Edward IV (Ian Hunter), who has been slaying all those who oppose him. As his two young sons are attended to by their mother and maidservant, the brutal reality of the land continues elsewhere as Lord Devere (John Rodion) is sent to be executed by axeman Mord (Boris Karloff), who has been sharpening his blade for this very occasion as he has before and will do again. Nobleman John Wyatt (John Sutton) is the condemned man's cousin, and asks to be by his side in the courtyard, an act that is allowed by Edward's Queen, Elyzabeth (Barbara O'Neil), although when the King finds out he allows it. Yet the man who he should be most wary of is the one he considers his closest ally: the Duke of Gloucester, the scheming Richard (Basil Rathbone).

Although presented as a horror film, Tower of London took as much relish in the court intrigue as it did the torture chamber. It was probably the two stars, who had appeared together the same year in Son of Frankenstein, also directed by Rowland V. Lee, who gave the impression of the macabre being a stronger element than it was, but that said their dastardly villainy make the film enjoyable and the action falls very flat when they're not onscreen, whether together or apart. It may not be entirely historically accurate either, and resembles a version of William Shakespeare's tragedy Richard III without all that troublesome Shakespearean dialogue - no sign of "A horse! A horse! My Kingdom for a horse!" here.

The film was scripted by director Lee's brother Robert N. Lee, and fairly packs in the incidents to keep the story thundering along. As the fictional character of Mord, Karloff manages light and shade, though still in shadowy hues with a man who lives to serve Richard yet rather pathetically yearns for a life outside the torture dungeon, preferably fighting at his master's side. He gets his wish at the climax of the film, but we all know how that turns out. Rathbone was born to play hissable baddies like this, barely hiding the smirk of pleasure from his features when events take a turn his way. He even has a little playhouse of action figures, all depicting the people in his way to the throne; as the tale opens, Richard is sixth in line, and when, say, the Prince of Wales is cut down in battle, his doll is thrown onto the fire. Another one down, not many to go!

There's another horror star in Tower of London, one who would take the Richard role in a remake over twenty years later, and he's Vincent Price as the Duke of Clarence. He starts the film all twitchy and ineffectual, but his big scene involves a drinking game for his life with Richard, and he can certainly put away the wine. Unfortunately for him, Richard's passing out through drunkenness is only temporary, and Clarence ends up put away in a cask of wine. These sequences are quite fun in a wicked kind of way, but one scene still chills, and that's the inevitable, if you know your history, killing of the Princes in the Tower. It's as if the preceeding drama has been a costumed romp, but there nothing to laugh about when Mord, who has reservations, ventures up to the Princes' chamber on Richard's orders. Lee works up a lavish look, even in the battles, with Rathbone and Karloff enjoying top form, even if many of the supporting cast tend towards the drab and bring down the thrills.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark


This review has been viewed 5526 time(s).

As a member you could Rate this film

Review Comments (0)

Untitled 1

Forgotten your details? Enter email address in Username box and click Reminder. Your details will be emailed to you.

Latest Poll
Which star probably has psychic powers?
Laurence Fishburne
Nicolas Cage
Anya Taylor-Joy
Patrick Stewart
Sissy Spacek
Michelle Yeoh
Aubrey Plaza
Tom Cruise
Beatrice Dalle
Michael Ironside

Recent Visitors
Graeme Clark
Darren Jones
Andrew Pragasam
Jason Cook
Enoch Sneed
  Desbris M
  Paul Tuersley
  Chris Garbutt


Last Updated: