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Tower of London (1962)

December 15th, 2013 (12:56 am)
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Some months after seeing the 1939 Tower of London, I've this evening watched the 1962 version as directed by Roger Corman. It bears little relation to the 1939 version other than the setting, the name, and the presence of Vincent Price as Richard III, who played the duke of Clarence in the earlier film. The historical parallels with the contemporary political scene are gone. Instead, Shakespeare's histories and some of his tragedies have been fed into a blender; most of the nutrition has then been removed, and what is left is held together by actor-scholar Vincent Price, with some spirited performances from others such as Sandra Knight as Mistress Shore - not Edward IV's mistress here, but a loyal retainer to Edward IV and Elizabeth Woodville who refuses to join Richard's cause. Little of the historical chronology remains; until the last third of the film, when an archbishop is needed to crown Richard, it appears that the established religion of late Plantagenet England is some form of paganism, represented by the good magician-physician Tyrus and his invocations to the forces of darkness. In the end, Napoleonically, Richard crowns himself, thus saving on extras. The battle scene depends on skilful cutting of stock footage, though Richard finds his horse before falling badly and being fatally wounded... but that almost gives away the twist. There's some imaginative photography and brazen use of anachronistic sets and costumes, however, and canny presentation to make tame torture scenes seem more horrific than they are.

Also posted at http://sir-guinglain.dreamwidth.org/2013/12/15/tower-of-london-1962.html.