Mystery of the Wax Museum
Henry Blanke, Hal B. Wallis for Warner Brothers
directed by Michael Curtiz
starring Lionel Atwill, Fay Wray, Glenda Farrell, Frank McHugh, Allen Vincent, Gavin Gordon, Edwin Maxwell, Holmes Herbert, Claude King, Arthur Edmund Carewe, Thomas E.Jackson, DeWitt Jennings, Matthew Betz, Monica Bannister
screenplay by Don Mullaly, Carl Erickson, based on the play by Charles Belden
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New York City, 1933: Girl reporter Florence Dempsey (Glenda Farrell) is
in desperate need for a story to not get fired from her job at the
newspaper. So she digs deep into the murder of a Hollywood starlet and the
subsequent disappearance of her corpse, and manages to get the chief
suspect in the case, the girl's rich boyfriend George Winston (Gavin
Gordon) off the hook. During her investigations she stumbles upon a wax
museum where Ralph (Allen Vincent), boyfriend of her roommate Charlotte
(Fay Wray), works, a wax museum that is run by crippled sculptor Dr Igor
(Lionel Atwill). Florence is sure that one of the museum's exhibits looks
a bit too similar to the dead starlet to not be her wax-covered corpse,
and soon she finds that other exhibits in the museum also look like
recently deceased persons.
While Florence is still on the case and
eventually (and rather unintentionally) exposes an alcohol bootlegger, Dr
Igor shows a rather unhealthy interest in Charlotte, that leads to him
taking her prisoner and preparing her to be covered in wax to become his
Marie Antoinette. Florence saves her roommate from being killed only in
the very last moment, and in the end, Dr Igor naturally dies in his own
vat of heated wax.
In the very ending, Florence could leave into a
future of luxury with George Winston in the end, but she chooses her
newspaper editor, with whom she has a love-hate relationship, over him
A film that falls in between a few too many
stools to be great: On one hand it tries to be a horror movie (and its
atmosphere in conjunction with colour photography is handled quite well I
must add), on the other a murder mystery, and one of these girl reporter
flicks that were a dime a dozen in the 1930's. And you know what?
if the girl reporter aspect to the proceedings stands in the way of the
other aspects to come to full bloom, it's Glenda Farrell as the alcoholic
investigative journalist that holds things together, keeps things flowing
smoothly and adds a bit of humour to the whole thing as well. Bus as much
as I liked Farrell's character, Mystery of the Wax Museum is
probably not a movie she should have been in ...