Review: Tower of London

DVD: Tower of London (1939)

I reviewed the 1962 version of Tower of London here, and it was interesting to compare and contrast between that Roger Corman version and this 1939 movie directed by Rowland V. Lee.

The story is still essentially the same; Prince Richard (Duke of Gloucester) is determined to be crowned King of England, despite there being numerous successors to the throne ahead of him in the family lineage. He will stop at nothing to get what he believes is his rightful place on the throne, and so people begin to die in mysterious circumstances.

Vincent Price (who, if you read my previous review was also in the 1962 version) plays the Duke of Clarence in a very early role for him. It is quite amazing how different his voice is and how understated his performance compared to later in his career where he would revel in expanding every nuance of his characters emotions.

The part of Richard is played by Basil Rathbone, who in the very same year first played the role of Sherlock Holmes in The Hound of The Baskervilles and would, for me at least, go on to become the quintessential Holmes in further movies.

Doing the majority of Richard’s dirty work is Mord the executioner, played wonderfully by the always watchable Boris Karloff. Hindered by a club foot, he drags his hulking frame around with the love of someone who enjoys dealing out death…even using his heavily booted foot to trip a fleeing prisoner who is trying to escape. At one point Richard refers to both himself and Mord as ‘Crookback and Dragfoot‘…what a fantastic 1970’s cop series that would have been!

The ghostly visions from the Corman version are not seen here, and all the better for it. People are dispatched in a variety of ways and their death is only represented by Richard removing small model figures of them from the line he has in a secret model showing the lineage to the throne.

The Tower of London is a movie packed with great performances; a favourite of mine being when Rathbone and Price are engaged in an alcohol drinking contest…the consequences of which are much more than a bad hangover the following morning.

If I were to pick a favourite between the 2 versions, I would edge this 1939 rendition in front of the 1962 movie. Though to be fair, you can’t go wrong with either.

A fabulous release from Fabulous Films.

Tower of London is released on DVD on 21st August 2017, and you can buy it by clicking HERE. ALL money raised by purchasing from Amazon via our website is given back to our listeners and followers in upcoming competition prizes. The more people buy, the bigger our prizes!

Review by Dave (host of 60 Minutes With) from a disc kindly supplied by Fabulous Films.