Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Mystery of the Wax Museum (1933)

"Mystery of the Wax Museum"
Another classic with Lionel Atwill (Ivan Igor) and Fay Wray (Charlotte Duncan) in a classic horror movie made during the same era as Karloff's "Frankenstein" and Lugosi's "Dracula."
But our "Mystery . . ." was different.
It was made in an early version of Technicolor with a two-strip method for red and green.
It was also different because it had Glenda Farrell as a reporter who figures out what's going on in Igor's new wax museum.
This is several years before she became another reporter in the Torchy Blane series.
"Mystery of the Wax Museum" starts out in London in 1921 when Igor's museum is burned down by his partner who'd rather have the insurance money than a business that's losing money.
Igor is so badly burned in the resulting fire that we don't seem him again until New Year's Eve of 1933 in New York.
(My, how time flies! It only took two years for Price to turn up in his movie!)
Igor just "happens" to live in the same apartment building as June Gale, a suspected suicide whose body is stolen from the morgue.
Farrell (Florence Dempsey) comes to the aid of Gavin Gordon (George Winton), Gale's former love.
She figures out that there's something rotten in the new wax museum: They're turning dead bodies like Gale's into wax figures and Igor wants to turn Farrell's friend, Fay Wray, into Marie Antoinette.
"Mystery of the Wax Museum" is well-written with plenty of suspense from a play by Charles Belden.
Farrell ends up with some spiffy lines like,
"OK, brother, then you can go to some nice warm place and I don't mean California."
Even better is,
Gordon: "I've only known you twenty-four hours but I'm in love with you."
Farrell: "Doesn't usually take that long."
When Ivan Igor gets the line, "I offer you immortality, my child. Think of it: in a thousand years you shall be as lovely as you are now!" . . . Miss Maven keeps thinking fine but what will her INSIDES look like?!
The monster makeup is so good that Farrell get to say,
"I don't know what he was but he made Frankenstein look like a lily!"
The excellent supporting cast includes Frank McHugh as Farrell's combative editor.
He gets the best line in the whole movie when Farrell gives him the raspberry over the telephone,
"A cow does that and gives milk besides!"
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