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If you've never seen this Parisian outing in 3-D, you must. It's been decades since the last time I enjoyed it at a temporary 3-D revival, but I remember the effects quite well. I won't discuss the story because too many commentators have already discussed how it is modified from Poe's original, but the script works. It is a horror movie, after all, which makes me think the writer who critiqued the "over the top" and "stilted" acting, doesn't realize that like fair rides we go to these movies to be thrilled and shudder. By current slasher film standards, this movie is very tame ... but it effectively depicts enough to give you nightmares, if you really think a bout what's going on. As mentioned, the 3-D effects are stunning. No, this movie is not as good per se as "House of Wax" but it is definitely worth a look. Why the devil doesn't Warner Brothers release both HoW and PotRM on DVD in 3-D using the shutter process utilized for the Imax releases?
Rory Del Ruth directed this film supposedly based on the classic Edgar
Poe story 'Murders in the Rue Morgue' though showing only the slightest
resemblance. A number of young women are brutally murdered and all
points to Professor Dupin (Steve Forrest). However, Dupin continues to
protest his innocence but his attempts to prove it to exasperating
Bonnard (Claude Daulphin) are ignored by the abhorrent police
I found this movie to be quite entertaining. To begin with the story moves slowly and one has to question where this movie is going? However, the final twenty minutes or so are very tense leading up to an almost blistering and highly exciting finale. Steve Forrest is great as Dupin, the university professor apparently caught up in the middle of a very elaborate murder plan, and commands his role as if it were written for him. Unfortunately the rest of the cast did not seem to perform to the same standard in my opinion with the exception of Karl Malden in the role of Dr. Marais. Even though Malden certainly hammed it up a bit his performance was still of a high quality and during a particular scene gave one of the more fearsome horror performances I have been privileged enough to witness.
Phantom of the Rue Morgue's finest quality is in its thriller aspect. As all murders are off-screen and only the aftermaths are shown the film searches out for a different type of brutality and succeeds but unfortunately rather late on. During the first half of the film 'Phantom.' remains a pleasant crime thriller but suffers somewhat from slowness in places. All this changes when it becomes obvious to us all who the killer is and what their motive is for doing so. Upon acquiring this knowledge we are given an insight into one of the more disturbed killer minds in horror and also some marvellous final scenes.
Despite the occasional slowness and poor acting I still quite liked this film. Though I must admit I found the first half to be of only average quality and reasonably dull when the story eventually become more interesting 'Phantom of the Rue Morgue' managed to regain my attention. I can understand its low rating on IMDb but I don't think it's a true representation of this film. 'Phantom.' certainly has flaws but is worth watching if only for the blistering finale. My rating for 'Phantom of the Rue Morgue' - 6.75/10
In 19th century Paris, a series of gruesome murders baffles the police.
In each case a woman is found beaten to death inside a locked room.
Suspicion soon falls on innocent Professor Pierre Dupin (Steve
Forrest). Maybe somebody should look at his colleague Dr. Marais (Karl
Malden), who has a caged gorilla and bad luck with the ladies.
Warner Bros. horror-thriller, originally released in 3D. It's essentially a color remake of the 1932 Murders in the Rue Morgue, but with more ties to Poe than Universal bothered to have. Despite improving in some areas, it's not as good overall. Roy Del Ruth's direction is flat and Karl Malden can't match Lugosi's manic performance in that earlier film. Also, Lugosi's Dr. Mirakle had a far more interesting motivation than Malden's Dr. Marais. But the lack of chimpanzee close-ups and Steve Forrest making a better hero than Leon Ames are both pluses in favor of this over the 1932 film. Comparisons aside, this is a nice time-passer that you'll probably enjoy. Anthony Caruso is creepy as Malden's one-eyed henchman. It's not scary (it doesn't really try to be) but it is entertaining. Look for Merv Griffin in a tiny role as a college student.
I recall watching this as a kid, though not the opinion I had made of it back then. With this in mind, I am baffled by its maligned reputation (the "Leonard Maltin Film Guide" gives it a measly **); mind you, I would not say that I prefer it to the classic 1932 Bela Lugosi version but it is more readily enjoyable (and faithful to its source). The film, in fact, is quite stylish in color with special care given to the art direction and a worthy follow-up to Warners' success of the previous year HOUSE OF WAX (1953); like that one, it was one of the numerous genre efforts from the early 1950s to be made in 3-D (though, typically, it was used gratuitously more often than judiciously). The cast is effective, too: Karl Malden adds an Actor's Method sensibility to the lead role of biologist/misogynist, Claude Dauphin is fine as the Police Inspector investigating the various gorilla slayings, Steve Forrest ideal as the handsome hero/accused and Anthony Caruso as Malden's loutish henchman/gorilla keeper. The murders are well-done, suggesting the animal's brutish strength without actually showing it even the 3-D process comes in handy here as one of the victims throws something at the ape in defense and the latter responds by throwing a chair back at the girl!; there is, however, a goof in the scene depicting the killing of the circus performer (assisting her jealous husband in a knife-throwing act) as she is seen taking off the tell-tale bracelet but is then unaccountably back at her hand in a shot of the mangled (albeit conveniently covered) body! On a personal note, Malta's name comes up a number of times throughout the film: the Maltese cross on a sailor's (eventually revealed to be Caruso) scarf and his inopportune meeting in a dingy tavern with a drunken former 'colleague' (sealing his fate by unwisely disclosing his knowledge of the ape's existence). The latter stages, veering from the Poe tale, actually feel closest to Universal's earlier adaptation as Malden cannot hold back his obsession with heroine Patricia Medina (engaged to his former student, and presently incarcerated, Forrest), an impulsive move which can only lead to the expected poetic justice of the climax in which the villain meets his own grisly come-uppance at the hands of the trained (read: abused) gorilla. By the way, having included a handful of films during this challenge in which this type of animal was featured as a menace (two more followed in quick succession), I came to realize just how many were made over the years. Finally, as I said in the beginning, this is pretty much underrated both as horror/monster movie and as adaptation of a highly-influential literary work.
Although not in the same league with Warner's HOUSE OF WAX, at least
this version of the Edgar Allen Poe story has some interesting
ingredients that make it passable entertainment. First and foremost,
the always dependable KARL MALDEN as a sinister man terrifying Paris
with his ape and a pleasant supporting cast that includes CLAUDE
DAUPHIN, PATRICIA MEDINA and a very young and slim MERV GRIFFIN.
David Buttolph's music adds some flavor to the improbable Poe story and the sets and costumes provide additional quality. But the basic story is so silly that none of it seems quite credible. You just have to suspend your disbelief long enough to enjoy the tale, expanded a bit from Poe's original short story with only modest returns.
STEVE FORREST, as a man wrongly accused, gives the film's most earnest performance but it's KARL MALDEN and his ape companion that you're most likely to remember.
At any rate, a vast improvement over the stilted '32 version directed by Robert Florey with a very young Leon Ames as the romantic lead and Bela Lugosi providing the only thrills.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
A murderous fiend is destroying Parisian lovelies and law enforcement
seems powerless to stop him. But who is it and what drives him to
savagely attack beautiful women at night? Is it even a man? Zoologist
Dr. Marais (Karl Malden) could hold the answer to the killer in Paris.
A mean-spirited remake of Robert Florey's atmospheric 30s chiller
starring Bela Lugosi, with Malden in the Dr. Mirakle role of devious
scientist who can control ape to heinously kill women, implicating
friend Professor Paul Dupin (Steve Forrest), a teacher of psychology,
by placing items he had given to his fiancé, Jeanette (Patricia Medina;
who Malden is in love with) at crime scenes.
With glossy sets and nice production value, "Phantom of the Rue Morgue" shows the destructive aftermath of the killer ape's rampage, with rooms laid to waste, female (and a male) bodies discovered bloodied, and the familiar "wrong man" scenario utilized (imprisoned innocent man trying to get police to believe that he didn't and couldn't commit the murders he is set up by Malden for). Malden implements "psychotic eyes" to convey his madness, simmering to the surface when Jeanette, who Marais is infatuated with, he feels betrayed because she denies his advances. Predictable and lacking real chills, "Phantom of the Rue Morgue", to me, is an interesting failure, probably of interest to horror fans for Malden's involvement and its status as a remake of an underrated classic. Not that well known, "Phantom of the Rue Morgue" has a dark streak, to be sure, and was perhaps pretty potently violent in its time. The melodramatic score adds to the Hollywood gloss of the picture; I felt this was an affectionate homage to Universal studios 30s/40s horror. The ending, where Malden's antics come back to haunt him, closing at his zoo, goes through the motions and lacks atmospheric thrills which came easily even with the lesser Universal studios' B-movie efforts, like the inferior Mummy series. Claude Dauphin is Paris Inspector, Bonnard, persistently assured that he has caught the right man for the crimes...even when it is obvious no human could commit the crimes where a great deal of strength would be needed and superior agility to escape from such heights. Anthony Caruso has a fun part as a surly one-eyed assistant to Marais, killing an acquaintance who knows too much about the ape in a memorable scene. There's a great knife throwing scene and an acrobatics demonstration, both providing some decent suspense. Good cast helps, even if the film never quite becomes altogether involving.
This is a good version of the Poe story, and I liked it much more than the
Bela Lugosi version. This held my attention throughout the whole movie. The
color cinematography was very effective and Steve Forrest and Patricia
Medina make a very believable couple. The ending is a bit unintentionally
funny, at least to me. And it sure is something to see a very young and a
very slim Merv Griffin. LOL.
But I do like this version, I think because the Lugosi version has a weird look to it. This is the better version.
As a series of strange murders plague a small area of Paris, the lack
of clues force the police to team up with the prime suspect in the case
to find the maniac responsible when he claims a friend's trained killer
gorilla is responsible and targeting his fiancée.
This was a fairly impressive and fun effort that has a lot going for it. One of the better elements here is the fact that there's a large amount of attack scenes on the victims, which really drives this one nicely as these continuous sequences provide plenty of action, shocks as well as generating some sultry teases with the women being targeted being quite attractive overall. As the attacks are framed so the audience doesn't see the culprit, and the only times they are is when they're obscured or casting a shadow on the wall, it leaves a distinct impression, and the fun continues due to the investigation done to recreate the crime at the scene, and the evidence either way makes for some fun times overall. The fact that these investigations point to the main purpose of this one is a little troubling since they can drag on at times especially when they keep trying to pin it on the hero through flimsy circumstances that won't work in any real courtroom. The other real flaw is the romance angle that appears late in the film, which stops the film cold and comes out-of-nowhere to create a really confusing mess, though it does solve the film's murders quite nicely. Overall, this one was pretty enjoyable.
Today's Rating-PG: Violence.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
***SPOILERS*** Remake of the original "Murders in the Rue Mourge" both
in color and 3-D with the added attraction of Charles Gemora repeating
his role as the gorilla, he was an over-sized chimpanzee in the
original, Sultan. Gemore does an excellent job swinging on fire escapes
and rooftops despite being 22 years older and having a touch of
arthritis in his arms and legs.
It's when there's a series of brutal murders at the Rue Mourge district in Paris that the bumbling Paris police inspector Bonnard, Claude Daphin, feels that the murders were committed by psychology professor Paul Dupin, Steve Forrest! That's only because he happened to be on the scene of one of them. It's when one of Paul's fellow tenants Camille,Dolores Dorn, is found murdered in his apartment house and stuffed up the chimney that Inspt. Bonnard has him arrested for her as well as the two other Rue Morgue murders. While Inspt. Bonnard and the Paris Police are barking up the wrong tree or chimney the real killer, the gorilla, escapes the scenes of his crimes through the Paris sewer system.
The gorilla who was a baby when he was caught by one-eyed Jacques, Anthony Caruso, in far off Madagascar was raised by Jacques' boss Dr.Marals, Karl Malden, back at his zoological center outside of Paris. It's Dr.Marals in is his experimenting on the nature of both man and beasts has come up with a way to turn on or off a person's or gorilla's aggressive behaviors. And most of all what makes them violent and how to control that violence. Dr. Marals who's wife left him by killing herself is obsessed with pretty Jeanette, Patricia Medina, who just happens to be Paul Dupin's fiancée! It's in trying to frame Paul in the Rue Morgue murders that the crazed and love sick Dr. Marals thinks he can win Jeanette over! That's if he keeps on fooling the police and Inspt. Bonnard that it's Paul and not him and his pet gorilla-Saltan-who's been doing all the killing!
It takes a while and a number of murders for Paul to convince the somewhat muddled headed Paris Police Insector Bonnard to realize what's reallying going on in the Rue Morgue but by then Dr. Marals had kidnapped Jeanette and locked her up, with the gorilla standing guard, in his mansion. With the police hot on his tail Dr. Marals releases his zoo animals, lion tigers and leopards, to distract them with the gorilla climbing up to his secret study room where he's holding Jeanette hostage!
***SPOILERS**** Trapped on a tree, after dropping Jeanette to safety below, with nowhere to go the gorilla in refusing to give himself up is then shot down to the ground by a barrage of fire by some half dozen police sharpshooters. But before he finally expires he gets his hands on the handcuffed Dr.Marals who ordered sultan not to surrender but to kill everything in sight and ends up ringing his neck thus killing him instead! The gorilla like we in the audience had realized what a total nut case his master Dr.Marals really was. It's when he started to mess around with Jeanette, whom the gorilla was madly in love with, that Sultan went totally bananas! And it was Dr. Marals as well as his assistant the one-eyed Jacques, whom the big monkey killed earlier in the movie, who ended up paying with his life for it!
This version of "Phantom of the Rue Morgue" is far superior to the earlier Bela Lugosi version in virtually every respect! Firstly, the music score by David Buttolph adds a sinister spine tingling note that heightens the element of fright. The cast members, all of them, led by Karl Malden and the underestimated Claude Dauphin as the Inspector, move the plot along and ably hold the audience's attention as the story unfolds. The mood, the period, the locale of turn-of-the-century Paris are all re-created very well by Director Roy Del Ruth. The garish hues of Warner Color, too, heighten the imagery. Having first seen this flick more than half a century ago as a young boy, I was terrified then. Given some of what makes it to the screen these days, "Phantom" is, indeed, quite tame by comparison! Nonetheless, it is a very entertaining horror flick of the period
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