The Mammy’s Cuss

August 27, 2012

Watching the new Blu-ray of <I>Bud Abbott Lou Costello Meet Frankenstein</I> (1948) last night, I was reminded of a true story exemplifying the notion that, back in the forties, audiences really found Universal’s monsters frightening.

In 1944 my paternal grandmother was looking for a movie to send my father, then about seven-and-a-half, his younger brother, and their older cousin (about 14). In the paper she saw a listing for “The Mammy’s Cuss,” suggesting I suppose a lighthearted comedy of some sort – imagine Claudette Colbert and her black maid Hattie McDaniel suddenly having to care for 14 children days before the big society ball.

It was, alas, a misprint, and the movie in question turned out not to be “The Mammy’s Cuss” but rather The Mummy’s Curse, featuring Lon Chaney Jr. as Kharis, the Bandaged One. According to them, it was one of the most terrifying things they’d ever seen, with my father and his brother crouched on the sticky theater floor, unwilling even to look over the backs of the seats in front of them.

Of course, it’s hard today to imagine any reaction other than extreme boredom with regard to The Mummy’s Curse, one of the longest 60-minute movies in film history. But, it just goes to show you….

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