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"The Mummy" was a 1932 film directed by Karl Freund, starring Boris Karloff and Zita Johann. Originally, Universal Studios producer Carl Laemmle Jr. had commissioned story editor Richard Schayer and Nina Wilcox Putnam to develop "Cagliostro," about a 3,000-year-old magician who stayed alive by injecting himself with nitrates and sought to avenge himself upon all women who resembled his ex-lover. But John L. Balderston, a "New York World" reporter who had covered the opening of Tutankhamun's tomb in 1922, was hired to write the script, and he gave the movie and Egyptian theme and changed the protagonist's motivation. Freund had been the cinematographer on 1931's "Dracula," for which Balderston had written the script, but "The Mummy" was Freund's directorial debut and Balderston's first script that was not adapted from an earlier source. Karloff had risen to superstardom on the basis of "Frankenstein," also from 1931. An Egyptian priest, Imhotep, had been mummified alive for attempting to resurrect his forbidden lover, the princess Ankh-es-en-amon, but was revived millennia later when his tomb was discovered by archaeologists Sir Joseph Whemple and Dr. Muller. Despite Muller's warning, Sir Joseph's assistant read aloud from the Scroll of Thoth: "Herein are set down the magic words by which Isis raised Osiris from the dead.'O! Amon-Ra -- Oh! God of Gods -- Death is but the doorway to new life -- We live today -- We shall live again -- in many forms shall we return -- Oh Mighty One." Imhotep came to life and fled with the scroll while the assistant laughed insanely (and later died in a straitjacket.) A decade later Sir Joseph's son was about to abandon a new expedition when Ardath Bey (an anagram of the phrase "death by Ra") arrived and offered to show him the where Ankh-es-en-amon was buried. As Ardath read from a scroll in the Cairo Museum, Helen Grosvenor (the half-Egyptian daughter of the English governor of the Sudan) fell into a trance and began speaking in ancient Egyptian. Believing her to be Ankh-es-en-amon's reincarnation, Ardath (who had already long-distance strangled Sir Joseph to death) tried to kill Helen in order to mummify and resurrect her, but she remembered her past life and prayed to Isis to save her. The statue of the goddess emitted a beam of light that destroyed the Scroll of Thoth, thereby reducing Ardath to dust.
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