The ABC's of Film Noir
The ABC's of Film Noir

The Mummy’s Hand (1940) Classic Movie Review 127

The Mummy’s Hand (1940)

The Mummy’s Hand (1940)

Those jackals are giving me goose pimples.


Today’s movie is The Mummy’s Hand (1940). This movie is sometimes called the sequel to The Mummy (1932). However, it doesn’t as much continue the story, as it uses clips from the earlier film woven into another story to save money.

This movie is not too bad as early horror films go. Any movie that has three archeologists can’t be all bad. Of course, one of the three is evil, which I find to be pretty consistent with my life experience.

This movie is rated 67% on Rotten Tomatoes.[1] At the time of release, the New York Times film critic Bosley Crowther wrote “Once or twice Miss Moran makes a grimace—as if she had caught an unpleasant odor—and screams. Otherwise, everyone seems remarkably casual. If they don’t seem to worry, why should we? Frightening or funny, take your choice.”[2]

So, let’s go right ahead and jump in with the show veterans.



The Mummy’s Hand (1940)

The Mummy’s Hand (1940)

Former cowboy star Wallace Ford appeared as Babe Jenson, for comic relief. Ford was first covered in the western Episode 31 – Warlock (1959).

Zita Johann was briefly shown in an uncredited clip as Princess Ananka. Johann was first covered in Episode 47 – The Mummy (1932).

The great actor Boris Karloff was uncredited as The Mummy. Karloff was first covered in Episode 47 – The Mummy (1932).

I was surprised to see the versatile Michael Mark as an Egyptian vendor. Mark was first covered in Episode 46 – The Wasp Woman (1959).


Dick Foran played archaeologist Steve Banning, Foran was born in New Jersey in 1910. He started out as a singer but was tapped by Hollywood to be a singing cowboy. He did well in B-movies being Warner Brother’s response to Gene Autry. Foran’s first starring role was in Treachery Rides the Range (1936). Other films include Song of the Saddle (1936), California Mail (1936), The Petrified Forest (1936), and Black Legion (1937) a tale of racism with Humphrey Bogart. For Universal he was in Rangers of Fortune (1940), The Mummy’s Hand (1940), Ride ‘Em Cowboy (1942), and Fort Apache (1948). His work slowed after this movie. His last film was Donovan’s Reef (1963) with his bud John Wayne. He continued to work in television. Foran died in 1979.

Peggy Moran played the Marta Solvani, magicians assistant to her father. Moran was born in Iowa in 1918 to a dancer mother and father, Earl Moran, who was a famous pin-up artist that drew many pictures of a young Norma Jean Baker.

Peggy attended Hollywood High and performed in as many plays as she could. She began working at Warner Bros. and had mostly bit parts, occasionally in good movies like Ninotchka (1939). In the late 1930s, she moved to Universal where she was in The Mummy’s Hand (1940), One Night in the Tropics (1940), Trail of the Vigilantes (1940), Horror Island (1941), and King of the Cowboys (1943) with Roy Rogers.

King of the Cowboys (1943) where her final film. She spent her time raising a family and remained active until she died in 2002 at the age of 84 following a car accident.

Eduardo Ciannelli had a short bit in this movie as the High Priest. Eduardo was born in Italy in 1889. He studied medicine and graduated as a doctor. But he first worked as an opera singer, then an actor in Europe and in the US beginning in 1919. He had his Broadway debut in 1920 and was working for MGM by 1933.

He kept getting roles as Italian gangsters in movies like Winterset (1936), Marked Woman (1937), and Law of the Underworld (1938). He was given other roles like the leader of the Kali in Gunga Din (1939), Mr. King in Foreign Correspondent (1940), and an evil genius in Mysterious Doctor Satan (1940).

Around this time, his career began to dip. He would occasionally show up in sword and sandal epics such as Attila (1954), Helen of Troy (1956), and Love Slaves of the Amazons (1957). He was never far from the gangster roles on television or film with movies like The Brotherhood (1968) and Stiletto (1969). He was also in Houseboat (1958) with Carey Grant and Sophia Loren. He died in Rome in 1969.

George Zucco, who I always try to turn into John Geilgud, played archaeologists and secret priest Andoheb. Zucco was born in England in 1886. Zucco began his acting career in Canada in 1908 at the age of 22. As World War I escalated, he returned to England and served in the army. He was wounded in the arm but returned to stage acting in London after the war.

In 1931, he began working in British sound films and was quite successful. He went to America in 1935 for stage acting and by 1936 headed to Hollywood. His first American film was Sinner Take All (1936). He began doing a lot of supporting roles in A-movies. His range was challenged in films Charlie Chan in Honolulu (1938) and Arrest Bulldog Drummond (1938). He played Professor Moriarty in The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes (1939). That same year he was in The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1939).

The Mummy’s Hand (1940)

The Mummy’s Hand (1940)

In the 1940s, he began moving towards the horror genera with movies like The Mummy’s Hand (1940) and other low-budget films through Producers Releasing Corp. (PRC) like Dead Men Walk (1943), The Mad Ghoul (1943), and for some reason the awful Voodoo Man (1944) with Bela Lugosi and John Carradine. However, he was still cast in quality movies such as Captain from Castile (1947), Joan of Arc (1948), and Madame Bovary (1949).

Following David and Bathsheba (1951), Zucco had a stroke. He retired from film and died in 1960.

Cecil Kellaway played a Brooklyn magician, Mr. Solvani. Kellaway was born in South Africa in 1893. Kellaway spent time in Australia working as an actor, director, and author. In the 1930s, he moved to Hollywood. It didn’t work out well as he was only getting bit part and a high percentage of those were in gangster movies. He returned to Australia.

Director William Wyler offered him a part in Wuthering Heights (1939) and from then on he could find work. He is known for the Film Noir The Postman Always Rings Twice (1946), The Luck of the Irish (1948) as a leprechaun, Harvey (1950) with a giant invisible rabbit, Hush…Hush, Sweet Charlotte (1964), and Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner (1967). Kellaway died in 1973.

Charles Trowbridge played archeologist Dr. Petrie. Trowbridge was born in Mexico to American parents in 1882. He graduated from Stanford University and chose acting over architecture. He studied acting in San Francisco then began working in New York. He made his Broadway debut in 1913. He made some silent films during this time such as The Fight (1915), Thais (1917), The Eternal Magdalene (1919), and Island Wives (1922).

He went back to the stage for about a decade before Paramount signed his as a strong character actor. During this time he was in many quality and lesser films. These movies include I Take This Woman (1931), Captains Courageous (1937), Meet John Doe (1941), Sergeant York (1941), Mildred Pierce (1945), King of the Texas Rangers (1941), Adventures of the Flying Cadets (1943), and Captain America (1944). His final films were bit parts because of his old friend Director John Ford. These movies were The Wings of Eagles (1957) and The Last Hurrah (1958). He died in 1967 at the age of 85.

Tom Tyler played the Mummy/Kharis but they used a least one Karloff clip. Tyler was born in New York state in 1903. Tyler kicked around working as a laborer until he ended in Los Angles where he found work as an extra and stuntman. Good looking with a good physique he became a western star. He was able to transition to talkies. He did have to work hard to lose his Lithuanian accent, which seems odd for a guy born in New York.

In the 1930s, the cowboy movie market became crowded. Tyler began taking small roles in big movies like Stagecoach (1939) and Gone with the Wind (1939). He had a career breakthrough with Adventures of Captain Marvel (1941). However, within a few years, he fell ill with Rheumatoid arthritis. Friends like Director John Ford keep him working in small parts in film and he also did some television. Finally, he could no longer work and went to live with his sister. Tyler died at the very young age of 50 in 1954.

German actor Sig Arno played the Beggar. Arno was born in Germany in 1895. He started acting on German stage in 1913. Following World War I, he continued acting and moved to Berlin. Because of those damn Nazis, Arno had to leave Germany in 1933. He traveled and worked in Europe until he went to the USA in 1939.

In Hollywood, he played funny foreigners and other comical characters. He is best known for The Diary of a Lost Girl (1929), Pandora’s Box (1929), The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1939), and the Palm Beach Story (1942).

In 1955, Arno returned to Germany where he acted on stage. He came back to the US in 1957 and only performed on stage. Arno died in 1975.

James Crane appeared in archival footage as King Amenophis from The Mummy (1932). I didn’t cover him at the time, so I will give him a note here. Crane was born in Illinois in 1889. He was a dark-skinned character actor on stage and screen. He started with silent films in 1919 and his career was over by 1939.

Crane is known for Sadie Love (1919), Wanted: A Husband (1919), A Dark Lantern (1920), and his most famous role was the small bit he did in The Mummy (1932). Crane died in 1968.

Harry Stubbs had a small role as a Cairo bartender. Normally, I wouldn’t cover him, but that name is too good. Harry was born in 1874 in England. In America, he became a bit actor but had a knack for getting into horror films. These films include The Invisible Man (1933), Werewolf of London (1935), The Invisible Man Returns (1940), The Mummy’s Hand (1940), The Wolf Man (1941), Sherlock Holmes and the Voice of Terror (1942), Flesh and Fantasy (1943), and Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man (1943). He died in 1950.


The movie begins with an old priest (Eduardo Ciannelli) praying a curse for anyone that defiles the tomb of the ancient gods. Strangely the marking on the outside look Mayan. The scene switches to a Cairo train station where secret priest Andoheb (George Zucco) is arriving.

Andoheb travels across the desert and to the foot of the mountains with a guide. At the mountain, he goes to the Mayan temple alone. He arrives inside the Egyptian temple. The high priest tells Andoheb that he is going to die and he must turn over the secrets of the Priest of Karnak. The high priest takes Andoheb to the magic hot tub showing clips from The Mummy (1932) where princess Ananka is buried.

Kharis (Tom Tyler) is a prince that is in love with the dead princess. Following the funeral, he goes to the altar of Isis to steal the secret of eternal life. In this movie, it is not a scroll, but sacred tanna leaves.[3] Halfway through the revival effort, the king’s guards come in and casually arrest Kharis. Taken before the king he is sentenced to be buried alive.

They cut out his tongue and mummified him. They place a lot of tanna leaves in his grave so he will remain alive. Kharis was later moved to a cave in the mountain by the priest and they have been watching over him for three thousand years. They use him as an enforcer to protect Ananka’s tomb.

The Mummy’s Hand (1940)

The Mummy’s Hand (1940)

The high priest then shows Andoheb where the tanna leaves are hidden. He explains that the extract from three leaves each full moon cycle will keep Kharis alive. Then the high priest channels Dracula when a jackal howls, saying “the children of the night.” He says the jackals howl when Kharis must be feed. The high priest says nine leaves will animate the mummy to protect. More than that will cause the mummy to turn into an unstoppable demon

Andoheb accepts and neckless and swears to the gods that he will never betray his new trust. The old priest dies.

Back in Cairo, a couple of Americans are wandering through the marketplace. Babe Jenson (Wallace Ford) is the comedy relief person. He bumbles along buy hip-swiveling dolls and cracking wise about going home. It never says if Babe is an archaeologist, but I assume not.

Archaeologist Steve Banning (Dick Foran) is much more serious, combing the marketplace for rare antiquities.

Banning has been fired from the Scripps Museum in New York. Babe wants to work their way home on a ship. Banning gives money to a beggar (Sig Arno) and continues to shop. Banning comes across an old vase at the table of an Egyptian vendor (Michael Mark). With very little haggling he agrees to pay $75 for the broken base. Calculate for inflation that would be $1315.28.[4]. Banning is convinced the vase is genuine. The beggar is a little too interested in the transaction.

Banning takes the vase to the Cairo Museum and his old friend Dr. Petrie (Charles Trowbridge). I believe they are playing on the name Flinders Petrie, an English Egyptologist, that lived from 1853 – 1942). Petrie developed a systematic method of dating strata based on the pottery within.[5]

So anyway, back in the movie. Dr. Petrie decodes the vase as talking about the Hill of the Seven Jackals, where Anaka’s tomb is located. They decide to ask professor Andoheb. Damn, it’s the same guy that was a secret priest. Andoheb says the vase is fake and is something that is sold to tourists. Banning does not agree with Andoheb. Andoheb also lets them know that two expeditions have disappeared in that area. He then accidentally drops the vase, destroying it. As soon as the group leaves, the beggar comes in to meet with Andoheb.

Since the two archaeologists have very little money, no jobs, and no one to fund their expedition, Babe hustles drinks from a bartender (Harry Stubbs) and tries to sell his dancing doll.

Babe is doing pretty well until he tries to hustle Mr. Solvani (Cecil Kellaway). Banning sees an advertisement that Mr. Solvani is there performing a magic act. After the hustle goes bad, the three men become fast friends and drinking buddies and proceed to get hammered. After being told about the tomb of Anaka, Mr. Solvani agrees to finance the expedition.

The beggar is hanging around watching the men drink. Andoheb makes his way to the hotel where Marta Solvani (Peggy Moran), the lovely daughter and stage assistant to Mr. Solvani is packing for the return trip to America. He tells her that Babe and Banning are con artists and are tricking her father out of his money. She has no reason to believe that he is lying. Andoheb gets a little creepy at the end.

The beggar incites some of the locals to attack the three Americans. They fight their way out the window. Babe and Banning go to their hotel and Mr. Solvani goes to his. Marta is in a rage. When she finds out that her father has signed a contract, see get the other hotel name and heads to where Babe and Banning are staying. She takes her stage gun, but later it seems to work like a regular gun.

When she gets to the hotel, Banning is in the bathroom and she pulls the gun on Babe thinking he is Banning. She shoots about 10 shots into the bathroom door and demands the money. Banning comes in and takes the gun away from Marta. He says he has already spent the money. She says that she will be going along on the expedition.

Babe, Banning, Dr. Petrie, the two Solvani’s, and a host of native diggers head to the mountain where the tomb may be located. They start excavating and before too long they find the bones of the archaeologist that came before them. Babe is working with dynamite and blows the side of the mountain open. The natives all run away saying that this is an unholy tomb. Drs. Petrie and Banning break into the tomb with no regard, or documentation. Andoheb and the beggar watch from above.

The members of the archaeological expedition are confused when they find the mummy of a man and not Ananka. Dr. Petrie remarks on how well the mummy is preserved as a jackal howls outside to marking the coming full moon.

Dr. Petrie decodes his name as Kharis and knows he was buried alive. He has also found a cache of tanna leaves. Only the head digger Ali returns. Dr. Petrie is in the tomb alone and Andoheb shows up. Dr. Petrie takes it in stride when he should be very alarmed. Andoheb takes Dr. Petrie to the mummy and has him feel the pulse while he gives the mummy the juice of nine tanna leaves. Of course, the mummy grabs him. I think in this case he deserves to die.

Babe and Banning run in to find the mummy missing and Dr. Petrie dead.

Andoheb sends the beggar to place a vile of tanna fluid in the tent of “one of the unbelievers.” That is kind of a vague instruction. Andoheb controls the mummy saying he is the only one that can give him the fluid. The mummy heads out.

Marta, because she can read, figures out where Ananka’s tomb is located, on the other side of the hill. Instead of walking around to the other side, they begin trying to dig through the tomb walls. Ali is guarding the camp when the beggar places the fluid in the Solvani’s tents. He hears it and goes in just in time to get killed by the mummy.

Marta noticed that all of the tanna leaves are missing.

The Solvani’s find Ali’s dead body in their tent. Banning breaks out the guns and tells everyone they are getting out in the morning. The beggar sneaks back in and puts some tanna fluid in Babe and Banning’s tents. The Solvani’s are going to sleep in Babe and Banning’s tent while the two men stand guard. Marta gets into silk PJs.

The mummy comes down and chocks Mr. Solvani. When Marta screams, Babe and Banning come running. But the mummy has kidnaps Marta. They see the mummy going into the tomb but they are not there when the men catch up. The two run back, and the beggar tries to throw a knife at them but Banning shots him down. They see the Priest of Karnak medal on the dead beggar and now know where Ananka’s tomb is located and that there are secret tunnels in the cave.

They decide to split up. Wait! What! No, stay together. Banning goes to look for the tunnels and he sends Babe around the mountain. Hey, shouldn’t they have tried this on day one?

The mummy brings Marta to Andoheb inside to the temple that is Ananka’s tomb. He sends the mummy away and straps Marta to the altar. Andoheb tells Marta that he is going to make her his eternal high priestess by giving her a large dose of tanna leaves.

As the mummy heads back to his tomb, Banning spends his time reconstructing a pot. Hey, couldn’t you wait until you get back to the lab? Anyway, he finds the secret tunnel behind the mummy sarcophagus.

Babe makes it to the front of the temple where he shots a jackal so Andoheb knows someone is coming. Andoheb has a revolver too. Not fair. Andoheb doesn’t think Babe will shoot, but he’s a cowboy so he plugs him four times.

Banning finds Marta and starts untying her, but the mummy comes in. Marta, still tied up, quickly tells Banning about the tanna fluid. He smashes one bottle and it stops the mummy. Banning shoots the mummy to no avail and then tries to block the urn of tanna fluid with his body. You know how that works out.

Babe comes in and shots the urn away from the mummy’s mouth. Cowboy. The mummy falls to the ground trying to drink the fluid. Banning wakes up and dumps fire on the mummy. The mummy burns, Marta passes out, and Babe passes out.

Back in the Cairo market, Banning and Marta are looking at old vases the vendor has. Marta says no way, we’re heading back to America. Babe and Mr. Solvani come running up and Banning has been offered a job by the Scripps Museum. The end.

One thing they did in this movie was black out the mummy’s eyes in closeup. It is a great effect.

World-Famous Short Summary – Two guys fight over the best looking girl in town

I hope you enjoyed today’s show. You can find connections to social media and email on my site at There are links in the podcast show notes as well. Remember this show is completely free and independent. All I ask is that you jump over to iTunes and give me a review. It really helps the show get found.

Beware the moors

[1] Rotten Tomatoes

[2] Crowther, Bosley (September 20, 1940). “Movie Review: The Mummy’s Hand (1940)“. The New York Times. Retrieved September 30, 2017.

[3] Tanna leaves: a mystical herb which has the property of attracting and controlling mummies in some mummy movies. Wikipedia.

[4] Inflation calculator

[5] Flinders Petrie

The Mummy’s Hand (1940)

(Visited 99 times, 1 visits today)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.