June 27, 2015
Mystery of the Wax Museum.
Review #719: Mystery of the Wax Museum.
Lionel Atwill (Ivan Igor), Fay Wray (Charlotte Duncan), Glenda Farrell (Florence Dempsey), Frank McHugh (Jim), Allen Vincent (Ralph Burton), Gavin Gordon (George Winton), Edwin Maxwell (Joe Worth), and Holmes Herbert (Dr. Rasmussen) Directed by Michael Curtiz (#125 - Casablanca and #416 - Yankee Doodle Dandy, #505 - The Adventures of Robin Hood, and #529 - Mildred Pierce)
Remember House of Wax (#271) with Vincent Price? Mystery of the Wax Museum is the original version, made by the same studio (Warner Brothers) that would make the remake 20 years later, with this movie based off an unpublished story, The Wax Works. This movie utilizes two-color Technicolor, a unique system utilized in some films (like the 1925 version of Phantom of the Opera), although the reception to the system was lukewarm due to the perceived artificial qualities it projected. This was one of only three films that Warner Brothers had under this system, and the last. Anyway, the movie's color actually helps set the mood very nicely because its artificial quality here makes the movie seem creepy, which for a movie like this, works. It works for a mystery like this, which moves quickly and never seems padded, setting its characters up and their motivations just fine. Atwill and Wray are the highlights, both having good scenes, sometimes together. The movie is quickly resolved, and I'm impressed at how it managed to be just effective, without having to resort to much final thoughts. It's a movie that looks good in its own way while being a fine little mystery that can be good for anyone looking for a quick 30's film to watch.
Overall, I give it 8 out of 10 stars.