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TOWER OF LONDON (director: Roger Corman; screenwriters: Leo Gordon/F. Amos Powell/Robert E. Kent; cinematographer: Archie R. Dalzell; music: Michael Anderson; cast: Vincent Price (Richard Plantagenent), Michael Pate (Sir Ratcliffe), Robert Brown (Sir Justin), Charles Macaulay (Duke of Clarence), Joan Freeman (Lady Margaret), Bruce Gordon (Earl of Buckingham), Joan Camden (Anne, Richard’s wife), Richard Hale (Tyrus), Sandra Knight (Mistress Shaw), Justice Watson (King Edward IV), Sarah Selby (Queen), Donald Losby (Prince Richard), Eugene Martin (Prince Edward); Runtime: 79; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Gene Corman; United Artists; 1962)
“Any enjoyment of this Grand Guignol piece must be attributed to Vincent Price’s colorful performance.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

A vulgar and cheaply made black-and-white photographed remake of Rowland Lee’s 1939 feature of the same name that starred Basil Rathbone. In this version Vincent plays the evil king lead, in the other version he played the Duke of Clarence. It’s based loosely on William Shakespeare’s Richard III. It’s helmed by Roger Corman (“The Raven”/ “The Tomb of Ligeia”/”Pit and the Pendulum”) and the screenplay is by Leo Gordon, F. Amos Powell and Robert E. Kent. Though the camera work is fluid and at times there’s a biting macabre humor, the script is inadequate and its limp climax is a let down.

It tells the story of Richard III and his bloody rise to power; it’s presented as a horror story, emphasizing the use of torture chambers and Richard’s sadism.

It begins in London in 1483. A dying King Edward IV has his brothers gathered around his deathbed, where he appoints his bookish but ineffectual brother Clarence (Charles Macaulay) to be Protector of his young sons, the heirs to the throne, Prince Richard and Edward. His hunchbacked and clubfooted brother Richard (Vincent Price) concurs with the choice in public but privately seethes. Richard then confers with Clarence in the Duke’s wine cellar, and after pledging loyalty knifes him in the back with a dagger from the Queen’s family crest and dumps his body in a vat of wine. Not satisfied at just becoming the Protector, he plants stories that the queen’s family killed Clarence, that the heirs are illegitimate and he grows increasingly mad as he murders anyone who stands in the way of his becoming king. But he has nightmares and is tormented by ghosts, as he is beginning to lose his mind and that brings about his demise in the battle with Bosworth (the battle scenes are footage from the original).

Any enjoyment of this Grand Guignol piece must be attributed to Vincent Price’s colorful performance. Otherwise I found the film lacking in scope and narrative.


Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”