Paris...at the turn of the century. Inspector Vidocq investigates a series of unexplained murders at a Grand Guignol-type theatre...where the players have suddenly become real-life victims. Based on the story by Edgar Allan Poe.
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 <email@example.com>
The character of Pierre Dupin, played by Leon Ames, reappeared in another Poe story done by Universal, "Mystery of Marie Roget" (1942) , this time with Patric Knowles in the role (now called Paul Dupin). See more »
When the ape is carrying the heroine over the rooftops, in one shot a shop sign in the background is reversed, indicating this shot was "flipped" in editing. See more »
[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 »
At the end of the film, the cast list is shown again with the heading, "A GOOD CAST IS WORTH REPEATING...." See more »
I won't go into the plot details as many have done that before me, but "Murders in the Rue Morgue" is worth a look for several reasons.
The first is the overall look of the film from legendary DP Karl Freund (Dracula, Metropolis, and many others). The sets are outstanding, the lighting is great, and the overall atmosphere is perfect. Everything comes off as some creepy nightmare.
The second reason to see "Murders" is Bela Lugosi, who owns every scene he is in. He is sufficiently strange and intimidating as the mad doctor.
The third reason is the overall story line. OK, forget the whole mixing of the ape and human blood thing and this movie is very similar in plot line to "The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari", just substitute the ape for Cesare the Somnambulist. It also contains some very strong (for its time) scenes involving the doctor "administering" to his patients.
OK, now some things that aren't so hot.
First, the cutting between the man in the ape suit and the real ape's face is distracting. The shots don't match and some serious suspension of disbelief is required for this not to be a deal breaker. I've heard that Florey's film was cut against his wishes to add these scenes and remove others. That would explain why these scenes seem out of place.
Also, as others have referred to, the comic relief is really not very good. At the time, however, this type of thing was common in films that were thought to be very intense. The comedy was used to relieve the tension so the audience could be set up for the next batch of horrors. Most of it doesn't work in this film.
Overall, I felt this film was well worth a look, and I've watched it several times just to admire the outstanding work of Karl Freund.
19 of 20 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?