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>
Part of the original Shock Theater package of 52 Universal titles released to television in 1957, followed a year later by Son of Shock, which added 20 more features. See more »
During the sequence in which the gorilla carries Camille across the rooftops, he climbs up a pipe using both hands, when one hand should be occupied by the girl he is carrying. 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?
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At the end of the film, the cast list is shown again with the heading, "A GOOD CAST IS WORTH REPEATING...." See more »
"Murders In the Rue Morgue" was Universal's follow up for star Bela Lugosi after the huge success of "Dracula" (1931). He did appear in other films during this period but mostly in minor roles. In fact, in one of the worst career moves of his career, Bela had turned down the role of the monster in "Frankenstein" (1931).
This film made in 1932, two years before the introduction of the infamous Production Code, contains many situations that would have not been allowed under the Production Code. For example, even the suggestion of a liaison between an ape and a woman would have never been allowed and the clear identification of a prostitute likewise. It's probably why this film was not seen for many years.
Lugosi, donning his mad scientist hat, plays the mysterious Dr. Mirakle who works in a carnival sideshow in 1845 Paris. He displays his man-like ape (actually it looks like a full grown chimpanzee) Erik while searching for a human female to presumably mate with the monster. One night pretty Camille L'Espanaye (Sidney Fox) and her beau, medical student Pierre Dupin (Leon Waycoff) visit the carnival and take in Dr. Mirakle's show. During the show, the ape is give the girl's bonnet and becomes obsessed with her.
Meanwhile we learn that Mirakle has been searching for the right blood match for his pet. We discover that two women have been murdered (offscreen) already. One dark night, Mirakle comes upon a "woman of the streets" (Arlene Francis) who has just witnessed the deaths of two "suitors" in a knife fight. The good doctor lures the poor wench to his laboratory where we witness his torture of her and her rather cold disposition of her corpse when she dies after she is injected with the ape's blood.
All the while Mirakle has kept his eye on the comely Camille. Then one night he sends the ape to Camille's room and..............
The film is well directed by Robert Florey who utilizes Universal's dark fog filled sets to great effect. Lugosi is quite terrifying in this role. Although he did get teamed with Boris Karloff in the mid thirties, he never achieved the heights he should have at Universal. With his personal off screen problems well documented, he made a number of poor choices in his movie roles. During the period when his star should have been rising he kept appearing in cheap poverty row features and serials which did little to advance his career.
Others in the cast include Bert Roach as Paul, Pierre's friend, Brandon Hurst as the Prefect of Police and D'Arcy Corrigan as the Morgue Keeper.
A very young John Huston contributes some additional dialog for the story. Leon Waycoff became Leon Ames and enjoyed a lengthy career as a character actor.
One of Lugosi's best.
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