Tower of London
Rowland V. Lee for Universal
directed by Rowland V. Lee
starring 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, G.P.Huntley, John Rodion, Walter Tetley, Donnie Dunagan, Joan Carroll, Harry Cording, Nigel De Brulier, Martin Faust, Jean Fenwick, Al Ferguson, Russ Powell, C.Montague Shaw, Ivan F.Simpson
written by Robert N.Lee, music by Ralph Freed, Hans J. Salter, Frank Skinner
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England, 15th century: Richard, the Duke of Gloucester (Basil Rathbone)
is hell-bent to make his way to the top (meaning to become King of
England), and the means he uses are murder, manipulation and intrigue:
First, he has King Henry VI (Miles Mander) dethroned in favour of Edward
IV (Ian Hunter), his closest ally, then he drives Edward into war with
Henry Tudor (Ralph Forbes) that leads to Henry's exile in France. Later,
Upon Edward's death, the throne technically goes to Edward's son, but the
boy is way too young so Richard sees to it that he becomes the boy's
protector ... but ultimately he has both of Edward's sons (Ronald
Sinclair, John Herbert-Bond) killed and has himself proclaimed the
undisputed king - Richard III ...
But Richard has strong opposition: Elysabeth (Barbara O'Neil), the
widow of Edward, hasn't forgiven him the death of her sons, and she tries
to get Henry Tudor back into England to overthrow Richard - but to that
end, Tudor needs money, so Elysabeth has one of her most loyal allies,
John Wyatt (John Sutton) rob the royal treasure and get it to Tudor -
which leads to Wyatt's temporary arrest and daring escape, but ultimately
the treasure reaches Tudor, who soon enough has an army big enough to
return to England and overthrow Richard for good ...
Boris Karloff plays Richard's lead executioner and torturer, while
Vincent Price, who plays an aristocrat who ultimately falls from Richard's
grace, will play Richard himself in Roger Corman's 1961 cheapskate but
nevertheless interesting remake [click
While by and large historically accurate and as a result full of
macabre details, well-acted and made on a suitably large scale, Tower
of London as a whole fails to totally convince as a film: It's way too
episodic in structure, characters and plotlines seem to be introduced into
the film at random and not always necessarily so, the film lacks a proper
heroic lead to contrast Richard's evildoing, and it is at times a bit
over-convoluted when it doesn't need to be. That all said, Tower of
London is not too bad a film, it's well-made, has a great cast and
nice sets and props. It's just not all it should/could have been.