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Waxworks (1924) More at IMDbPro »Das Wachsfigurenkabinett (original title)

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Release Date:
February 1929 (USA) See more »
The owner of a Waxmuseum needs for three of his models stories to be told to the audience. For that reason he has hired a writer... See more » | Add synopsis »
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User Reviews:
Paul Leni's Seldom-Seen Anthology Homage to Caligari See more (21 total) »


  (in credits order)

Emil Jannings ... Harun al Raschid

Conrad Veidt ... Ivan the Terrible

Werner Krauss ... Jack the Ripper / Spring-Heeled Jack

William Dieterle ... The Poet / Assad the Baker / A Russian Prince (as Wilhelm Dieterle)
rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Olga Belajeff ... Eva-Maimune-Eine Bojarin
John Gottowt ... Inhaber der Panoptikums
Georg John
Ernst Legal

Directed by
Leo Birinsky 
Paul Leni 
Writing credits
(in alphabetical order)
Henrik Galeen 

Produced by
Leo Birinsky .... producer
Alexander Kwartiroff .... producer
Cinematography by
Helmar Lerski 
Art Direction by
Paul Leni 
Costume Design by
Ernst Stern 
Production Management
Artur Kiekebusch-Brenken .... production manager
Second Unit Director or Assistant Director
William Dieterle .... assistant director
Art Department
Paul Dannenberg .... props
Alfred Junge .... assistant art director
Fritz Maurischat .... assistant art director
Camera and Electrical Department
Hans Lechner .... still photographer
Music Department
Jon Mirsalis .... music performer: 1996 alternate version (as Jon C. Mirsalis)

Production CompaniesDistributors

Additional Details

Also Known As:
"Das Wachsfigurenkabinett" - Germany (original title)
"Caliph of Baghdad" - International (English title) (segment title)
"Harun Al-Rashid" - International (English title) (segment title)
"Ivan the Terrible" - International (English title) (segment title)
"Jack the Ripper" - International (English title) (segment title)
"The Caliph of Baghdad" - International (English title) (segment title)
See more »
65 min | USA:83 min (restored version)
Aspect Ratio:
1.33 : 1 See more »
Sound Mix:

Did You Know?

The "Harun al Raschid" episode reportedly inspired Douglas Fairbanks to make The Thief of Bagdad (1924)See more »


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13 out of 16 people found the following review useful.
Paul Leni's Seldom-Seen Anthology Homage to Caligari, 9 April 2005
Author: gftbiloxi ( from Biloxi, Mississippi

In the wake of World War I, German film was sharply influenced by expressionism, an arts movement which is less concerned with imitating reality than in using design to reflect psychology and emotion. THE CABINET OF DR. CALIGARI brought the style to the screen in 1919, and throughout the 1920s many directors would create projects under its influence.

German director Paul Leni (1885-1929) was one such--and although he is best recalled for his later Hollywood films, most notably the stylish THE CAT AND THE CANARY, the 1924 German WAXWORKS shows him very near the peak of gifts. It is also very clearly an homage of sorts to THE CABINET OF DR. CALIGARI; not only would Leni cast two of that film's actors in major roles, he drew from the film's style for both sets and cinematography.

WAXWORKS is an "anthology" film, a collection of stories bound together by a running thread. A young writer (William Dieterle) is employed by a carnival sideshow wax museum to write stories about several of their figures: a Baghdad Caliph, Ivan the Terrible, and Spring Heeled Jack. As he writes, the film segues into the story the writer invents.

The longest of the three stories concerns Harun al Raschid, a Caliph of Baghdad who falls in love with a baker's wife--and then seeks to take her for his own. Featuring the celebrated Emil Jannings as the Caliph, the episode is a mixture of light comedy and Arabian Nights fantasy, particularly noted for the greatly stylized sets that recall the earlier CALIGARI and THE GOLEM to somewhat softer effect. It also offers the very rare opportunity to see Jannings, famed for his dramatic roles, in comic mode, and he proves equally adept with this bit of fluff as with his more "serious" work.

The second episode is a fantasy suggested by Russian ruler Ivan the Terrible, who delights in poisoning prisoners but finds himself fearful of his highly gifted poison-mixer. Ivan is played by Conrad Veidt, who appeared as the murderous Cesare in CALIGARI; one of Germany's most popular actors of the silent screen, Veidt was also noted for his gift at playing insanity, and his Ivan is the very incarnation of madness. As in the earlier episode, the sets are also fantastic, although perhaps not so obviously so.

Fine though the first two sequences are, it is really the last that is most famous, and justly so. Here Leni sets the story against the carnival itself and presents it in grotesque, dreamlike images that very deliberately recall CALIGARI; moreover, he casts actor William Dieterle, who played Caligari himself, as a menacing killer who slowly stalks his terrified victims. The killer is referred to as both Spring Heeled Jack and Jack the Ripper; clearly, however, he is more akin to the latter. The cinematography in this sequence is particularly fine, using multiple exposures in a way that foreshadows Leni's stylish THE CAT AND THE CANARY.

In an overall sense, WAXWORKS is quite fine, and were it not for the fact the final sequence is so short I would easily give it a full five stars. The Kino DVD also offers a very good transfer, complete with original tinting; unfortunately, however, it offers no bonus material except a Leni short--an unexpected but mildly interesting "filmed crossword puzzle." Although some may find the anthology nature of the film a bit off-putting, silent fans will likely love WAXWORKS from start to finish.

GFT, Amazon Reviewer

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