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Murders in the Rue Morgue (1932)

6.4
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Ratings: 6.4/10 from 2,098 users  
Reviews: 59 user | 38 critic

A mad scientist seeks to mingle human blood with that of an ape, and resorts to kidnapping women for his experiments.

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Title: Murders in the Rue Morgue (1932)

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Sidney Fox ...
Mlle. Camille L'Espanaye
...
...
Pierre Dupin (as Leon Waycoff)
Bert Roach ...
Paul
...
Mme. L'Espanaye
Brandon Hurst ...
Prefect of Police
D'Arcy Corrigan ...
Morgue Keeper
Noble Johnson ...
Janos The Black One
...
Woman of the Streets
Edit

Storyline

In 19th Century Paris, the maniacal Dr. Mirakle abducts young women and injects them with ape blood in an attempt to prove ape-human kinship. He constantly meets failure as the abducted women die. Medical student Pierre Dupin discovers what Mirakle is doing too late to prevent the abduction of his girlfriend Camille. Now he desperately tries to enlist the help of the police to get her back. Written by Gary Jackson <garyjack5@cogeco.ca>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

Based on a story by Edgar Allan Poe See more »


Certificate:

Unrated | See all certifications »
Edit

Details

Country:

Language:

| |

Release Date:

21 February 1932 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

A Morgue utcai gyilkosságok  »

Box Office

Budget:

$190,000 (estimated)
 »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Noiseless Recording Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »
Edit

Did You Know?

Trivia

Among the caricatures drawn on the walls of Dupin's apartment is the likeness of Edgar Allan Poe, who wrote the story the film is based on. See more »

Goofs

In many scenes, the close-up of a chimpanzee is used for the gorilla. See more »

Quotes

Dr. Mirakle: [Responding to an audience member who has accused him of heresy] Heresy? Do they still burn men for heresy? Then burn me monsieur, light the fire! Do you think your little candle will outshine the flame of truth?
See more »

Crazy Credits

At the end of the film, the cast list is shown again with the heading, "A GOOD CAST IS WORTH REPEATING...." See more »


Soundtracks

Swan Lake Overture
(uncredited)
Written by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky
Played during the opening credits
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

 
An appreciated but underrated Universal and Lugosi short triumph
6 March 2010 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Murders in the Rue Morgue (1932)

King Kong was released by RKO in 1933, a story of an ape captured by white hairless apes and brought to a foreign land. And this is exactly the beginning of the 1932 Rue Morgue, as Bela Lugosi, playing Dr. Mirakle, appears as flamboyant sideshow impresario with an ape in a cage. His trick (if it is one) is knowing how to translate ape talk to English (or French, maybe, since we are in Paris). His point is that the apes are us, that evolution is true. "Can you understand what he says? Or have you forgotten?" Not the most honorable spokesman for science, no doubt, but he is a mad scientist, and is setting out to create some kind of unexplained human/ape hybrid.

The movie is filled with dramatic innovations, and a very high technical standard (for Universal, a minor studio player until this time). And the transfer to DVD is terrific. Ten minutes into the film, Lugosi breaks the fourth wall and looks into the camera to challenge the viewer to accept evolution and its consequences.. (The Scopes trial was 1925, so this is a hot topic.) Watch for the camera attached to the swing about 32 minutes in. There are echoes of Frankenstein (1931) with the madman and his doltish assistant, as well as the angry mobs. And there is Lugosi himself, with all the aura carrying over from his breakthrough in Dracula (also 1931).

The cinematography by Karl Freund is totally amazing. There are not astonishing tricks, just consistent, brilliant framing and lighting, scene after scene. (If only he had shot Dracula--oh, he did! Yes...check that out, too.) 1920s German Expressionist films find a true expression here (not Caligari, for sure, but a high water mark for American movies of the time). Simple things like shadows and angles, of course, but also moving camera in subtle ways (the camera falling slightly when approaching someone in a window, for example). Completely first rate.

It's common in these movies to have eccentric villains, grotesque monsters, and Gothic settings with wild special effects. And to have the common person as a balance to all this madness. These apply a little comic relief but in a silly way from our perspective. (The "common" person at the time in other movies was far more vivid and timeless, like Crawford or Cagney, but that would overwhelm the villains as well as the budget). In this case, one of the common folk is a resourceful doctor, and this search for the bad guy takes on a larger role than in the other monster movies.

The movie isn't a sparkling masterpiece. The acting throughout (even by Lugosi, really) isn't always spot on, but it works overall, and is consistent. There is a comic moment near the end (when we are most anxious for action) where the character have an argument in different languages, and it's so perky I'm assuming they felt they couldn't take it out, but it doesn't advance the plot. It does deal with Logosi's characteristic odd accent. And for fun, there is an anachronism, half an hour in, when a bicycle rides through the little town, decades before they were made like that.

It won't matter if you don't believe in evolution. The movie plays loose with the concept, and Dr. Mirakle says at one point, with his beady eyes: "Do you think your little candle can outshine the truth?"


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