The Scarlet Pimpernel
The complicated, well-labored and meticulous script offers France as a puzzle of abusive power answered by carnage, and constructs a beautiful answer whose name is England. Young treats this in an essentially frivolous way, the idealized romance serving as a steppingstone to the lesson only revealed in the final frames.
Still, he achieves a monumental picture of eighteenth-century life, taken in the aggregate. His scenes are well-laid, the painter Romney is made to appear and receive a faux critique from Sir Percy, Nigel Bruce in one of his finest and most characteristic roles as the Prince of Wales models the type of English manners suitable to the time, and in the stylistic flourish that sets a signet to the whole affair, out of it all rises (“to a point”) the inexpressible blossom of Leslie Howard’s Baronet, a performance to be reckoned with, as Merle Oberon is unavoidably confined to a tortured silence for the duration, and the enforced sadism of Raymond Massey’s Chauvelin admits very little light indeed.
The Mummy’s Tomb
A generous précis of Cabanne’s The Mummy’s Hand is offered by way of a magazine photo (Our Age) come to life with Dr. Banning telling the tale years later.
Kharis is on a simple mission, to wipe out the Banning family for its sacrilege against the tomb of Ananka.
This is Shakespeare’s first sonnet, “Make thee another self, for love of me, / That beauty still may live in thine or thee.”
The temple priest of Karnak sworn to minister to Kharis down the ages with tanna-leaf infusions (“three give life, nine give motivation,” i.e., locomotion) falls in love with the betrothed of Banning’s son John, a medical doctor. Kharis is sent to fetch the girl.
“One day,” the girl is told, strapped down in a crypt at Maplewood Cemetery in Massachusetts, “you will thank me for this.” Men with burning brands light the way to Kharis and the temple priest. REIGN OF TERROR ENDS IN FLAMES, and poetically the Banning house burns down.
Dr. John Banning and his bride take a train, off on their honeymoon.
The beautiful note from Maugham (Rain) brings to a tragicomic finish the immemorial hijinks.
The Frozen Ghost
The prologue states the entire case (after the introduction to the Inner Sanctum).
Gregor the Great hypnotizes his fiancée Maura into telepathic receptivity, the act is pushing No. 1 on radio. A skeptic is called from the audience to take her place, he’s a drunk and dies on the spot.
Madame Monet shelters guilt-ridden Gregor at her wax museum, she makes a play for him and perishes, her niece is a somewhat similar case. There is a plot against Gregor by his business manager and the maker of wax figures, the latter in love with the niece.
The fabulous complexity and involved direction have always defeated critics, this is the tale of the indispensable Maura and various pretenders, a masterpiece looking ahead from its Universal vantage to the Hammer school.