The Tower of London (1939)

Genres - Historical Film  |   Sub-Genres - Melodrama  |   Run Time - 93 min.  |   Countries - USA  |  
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Basil Rathbone's real-life son, John Rodion, has his head chopped off early on in this historical melodrama often mistakenly referred to as a horror film. Yes, a second-billed Boris Karloff does stomp about on a club-foot as the Duke of Glouchester's chief executioner, Mord, but Karloff's presence is really more colorful than horrifying. Rathbone is the main villain here, as the Duke of Glouchester, the deformed second brother of Edward IV (Ian Hunter), whose throne he covets. But before he can place himself on that exalted chair, there are quite a few relatives and pretenders to be rid off. The exiled Prince of Wales (G.P. Huntley) is dispatched during a battle, and his father, the feeble-minded Plantagenet King Henry VI (Miles Mander), who steadfastly refuses to gracefully die of old age, is murdered by Mord. Half-brother Clarence (Vincent Price), meanwhile, is drowned very picturesquely in a vat of Malmsey wine and when Edward IV dies of natural causes, only his two young sons remain. To the horror of Queen Elizabeth (Barbara O'Neil), Glouchester is named their protector -- which of course means that Mord the executioner will be working overtime once again. But the evil duke, now Richard III, has not counted on the heroic John Wyatt (John Sutton), who, by looting the treasury, is able to bring back from exile in France yet another pretender, Henry Tudor (Ralph Forbes). The latter's invasion proves victorious at the famous battle of Bosworth Field and the brutal reign of Richard II, and his executioner, comes to an end.

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Keywords

Ascension [of Christ], promotion, execution, investigation, monarch, murder, throne, torture