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Saturday, June 21, 2014

Mystery Of The Wax Museum (1933)

In 1921 London, a sculptor (Lionel Atwill) does remarkable work recreating historical figures in realistic fashion using wax. But his business partner (Edwin Maxwell) torches the place to get the insurance money, destroying not only the wax figures but burning the sculptor so severely that his hands are rendered useless. Jump to 1933 New York and the doctor is opening another wax museum but its remarkable how some of the sculptures look like recent murder victims. Perhaps not as well known as its 1953 remake HOUSE OF WAX, this Michael Curtiz film is still frightful fun. It's shot in the early two strip Technicolor process which lends the film a ghoulish ambience. The film's leading ladies, Glenda Farrell as a feisty reporter and Fay Wray as her pretty roommate, both get a chance to show their lung power in true scream queen fashion. Anton Grot's art direction is quite marvelous, notably Wray's descent into the bowels of the museum's depths where its German expressionist design comes to the forefront. This being a pre-code film, it gets away with showing a junkie (Arthur Edmund Carewe) going into withdrawal fits. With Frank McHugh, Gavin Gordon and Allen Vincent.

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