THE QUOTABLE CUSHING: THE MUMMY (1959)
Welcome to another edition of THE QUOTABLE CUSHING, the column where we look at Peter Cushing’s best lines in the movies.
Today we check out some of Peter Cushing’s lines from the Hammer Film THE MUMMY (1959) in which Cushing played archeologist John Banning, and Christopher Lee played Kharis, the Mummy.
THE MUMMY was Hammer’s third film in its Universal monster movie remake triumvirate, following upon the heels of the wildly successful THE CURSE OF FRANKENSTEIN (1957) and HORROR OF DRACULA (1958), the two films that put Hammer on the map, along with its two stars, Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee. THE MUMMY is the least effective of the three movies. Yet it’s still an enjoyable film, and Peter Cushing, as always gets to deliver some memorable lines of dialogue.
Here’s a look at a few of those lines spoken by Cushing in THE MUMMY, screenplay by Jimmy Sangster.
The movie opens in Egypt, where John Banning (Peter Cushing), his father Stephen Banning (Felix Aylmer), and his uncle Joseph Whemple (Raymond Huntley) discover the tomb of the Princess Ananka, a discovery that drives Stephen Banning mad. Well, that’s what John and Uncle Joe believe anyway. The truth is old Stephen loses his marbles because he comes face to face with Kharis the Mummy (Christopher Lee).
Anyway, shortly after making their discovery, John Banning and his uncle Joe prepare to seal off the tomb once again, and at this moment, John shares his uneasy feelings with his uncle.
JOHN BANNING: Want to see the inside of the tomb for the last time?
UNCLE JOE: The sooner you seal it up again, the happier I shall be.
JOHN BANNING: Yes, I feel the same way. I’ve worked in dozen of tombs. It seems the best part of my life has been spent amongst the dead. But I’ve never worked in a place that had such an aura of— menace. There’s something evil in there, Uncle Joe. I felt it.
Later, John discovers his wife Isobel is the splitting image of the Princess Ananka, and he teases her about this.
JOHN BANNING: It’s extraordinary. I never noticed it before, but with your hair like that, you’re the image of Ananka.
ISOBEL: Am I?
JOHN BANNING: She was considered the most beautiful woman in the world.
ISOBEL: Oh, I am flattered.
JOHN BANNING: Mind you, the world wasn’t so big then.
After the Mummy murdered both Stephen Banning and Uncle Joe, Inspector Mulrooney (Eddie Byrne) interviews John Banning, and John tells the Inspector of his suspicions that the murders were committed by a Mummy.
JOHN BANNING: All right, Inspector. I believe the intruder was a Mummy, a living mummy.
MULROONEY: A mummy? One of those Egyptian things?
JOHN BANNING: That’s right
MULROONEY: I thought they were always dead people.
JOHN BANNING: They usually are. By rights this one should be dead, too.
And a bit later in the conversation:
MULROONEY: Mr. Banning, are you trying to tell me that these two murders were committed by— by a dead man?
JOHN BANNING: I knew you wouldn’t believe me.
MULROONEY: You’re right, I don’t. I find it incredible that you should even imagine such a story. I deal in facts, Mr. Banning. Cold hard facts. And the facts tell me that someone broke in here, committed a murder, and then got away. There is no doubt whoever did it killed your father, too. This I consider a fact also. But that’s where the facts run out. It’s my job to dig around until I unearth some more facts. But facts, Mr. Banning, not fantasies straight out of Edgar Allan Poe. If you have any more ideas please let me hear them. They make fascinating listening if nothing else!
JOHN: There is one more. I think I’m the next to be killed.
And in one of the movie’s best scenes, John Banning pays a surprise visit to Mehemet Bey (George Pastell), the man who is controlling the Mummy. Banning goes out of his way to agitate Bey, to try to get him to slip up and give away his true reason for being in town.
JOHN BANNING: The history of your country is steeped in violence.
BEY: Indeed, it is.
JOHN BANNING: I remember the opening of Princess Ananka’s tomb. She was high priestess to a pagan god, Karnak. We have reason to believe that over 100 people were put to death during her funeral rights.
BEY: That’s probably.
JOHN BANNING: And Karnak wasn’t a particularly important deity. A third rate god.
BEY: Not to those who believed in him.
JOHN BANNING: Perhaps not. But their standard of intelligence must have been remarkably low.
BEY: Why do you say that?
JOHN BANNING: He was insignificant. He had nothing to commend him to anyone with the slightest degree of intelligence.
BEY: But surely you’re assuming a great deal.
JOHN BANNIGN: I don’t think so. I made an extensive study of this so-called religion. It’s based upon artificial creeds and beliefs, some of them ludicrous in the extreme.
BEY: Did it ever occur to you that beneath the superficial you’ve learned about, there could be a great and passionate devotion to this god?
JOHN BANNING: It occurred to me, but I dismissed it.
BEY: You’re intolerant, Mr. Banning.
JOHN BANNING: Not intolerant. Just practical.
There you have it. Some memorable Peter Cushing lines from THE MUMMY.
Until next time, thanks for reading!