Public Domain Movies

It! (1967): A Golem Movie Starring Roddy McDowall

DVD Case: It!, Starring Roddy McDowall + The Shuttered Rook, Starring Oliver ReedIt! is a 60s horror movie starring Roddy McDowall. At the time of this review It! was only available as a double feature DVD. The other movie on the disc is The Shuttered Room (reviewed here).

McDowall stars as assistant museum curator, Arthur Pimm, and Jill Hayworth plays the curator’s daughter Ellen Grove, who also works at the museum and is the girl of Pimm’s dreams.

Unfortunately for Pimm, it is a love that can never be. Ellen wants nothing more from him than friendship.

The third major player in the story is a man named Jim Perkins—played by the Canadian actor Paul Maxwell.

Maxwell usually made British movies and nearly always played an American. This movie is no exception because Jim Perkins is supposed to be representative of the New York Museum.

It! begins by showing some London firemen fighting a losing battle against a blazing warehouse. Viewers soon learn the warehouse contained valuable museum artefacts.

As soon as the museum is informed about the fire, the museum curator, Mr Grove, rushes to inspect the damage and Pimm accompanies him.

The warehouse has been reduced to a pile of rubble and everything has been destroyed except for a rather sinister-looking statue. Grove wishes to take a closer look at the statue so Pimm returns to the car to find a torch. Pimm never makes it to the car because he hears Mr Grove scream, rushes back, and finds him lying dead at the feet of the statue, which seems to have moved its arms in the short time that Pimm was away.

The Golem (A Scene from It!)
The warehouse is toast but the golem statue is still standing tall

The statue is taken to the museum, but when a museum worker is found dead at its feet the media begin to call it a cursed artefact and, fearing any further bad publicity, the museum’s management committee decides to get rid of it.

By this time Pimm has discovered the statue is the famous Golem of Prague, created in 1580 by Rabbi Loeb.
Pimm is determined to learn how to control the clay monster and use it for his own benefit so as soon as Perkins arrives at the museum Pimm tries to convince him that the golem is a fake.

Perkins is not so easily swayed. He knows more about the statue than Pimm does and reveals the secret of controlling the clay monster.

Perkins tells Pimm there was originally a scroll of parchment that had to placed under the golem’s tongue. Pimm later discovers the scroll’s hiding place and becomes the golem’s new master, but power often corrupts and one of the first things that Pimm does is order the golem to kill the museum’s new curator.

Pimm’s next move is to take Ellen out for lunch and tell her he can do incredible things. Ellen is not convinced, so he points at the Thames Bridge and tells her that he can knock it down. “Just like that,” he says and snaps his fingers to illustrate the point.

If his statement was meant to impress Ellen it fails miserably because her reaction is to thank Pimm for lunch and then leave.

Roddy McDowall, Paul Maxwell and Jill Hayworth in the movie It!(1967)
Pimm introduces Ellen to Jim Perkins

With a little help from the golem, Pimm makes good on his promise. The bridge comes tumbling down later that evening but he is soon filled with regrets for his recent actions and needs someone to confide in.

Of course, it’s Ellen that he turns to. He rings her and asks if she will meet him at the museum. Ellen agrees but Perkins goes to the museum in her place.

Perkins already has a good idea of what’s going on. He warns Pimm the golem was not designed to serve selfish needs, but there is no reasoning with him and it’s not long before it’s a case of Pimm and his golem versus the British Army.

I found It! a little slow-moving and, to be honest, the story is pretty basic at best but I enjoyed watching it just for Roddy McDowall’s performance. He is great as the uber-efficient Pimm who, at the beginning of the movie, appears to be a very straight-laced and intelligent man.

Appearances can be deceptive because Pimm is a pretty strange guy. He has been borrowing jewellery from the museum and taking it home for his mother to wear for a while before he sneaks it back again.

I’m sure you’ll agree that’s not a good way to behave but the really weird thing about it is Pimm’s mother is dead. She’s been dead so long she’s become nothing more than a desiccated corpse sitting in a rocking chair in Pimm’s living room.

The movie has a runtime of about an hour and thirty-five minutes and although It! may not be one of the best movies ever made, it is a watchable one; especially if you are a fan of the late Roddy McDowall.

To be honest, I have always been a Roddy McDowall fan but I had never heard of this movie. I only bought the DVD because The Shuttered Room is on the same disc and, in my opinion, The Shuttered Room is a much better movie by far.