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 <firstname.lastname@example.org>
I wonder if the Laemmles were trying to tell their new young starlet Sidney Fox something by casting her opposite a man in an ape suit, AND unforgivably giving her top billing over the real (human) star, Bela Lugosi. "Murders in the Rue Morgue" has long been considered the low point of the Laemmle era, loads of atmosphere but ludicrous situations and dialogue to match (some of which was credited to future director John Huston). The embarrassing Sidney Fox had debuted opposite Bette Davis (and Bert Roach) in "The Bad Sister" but is so completely out of her depth here that it's a wonder she lasted two more years. Leon Ames (billed under his real name, Waycoff) debuts in this film (along with future television personality Arlene Francis, who had very few movie credits), but obviously preferred character work over playing romantic leads. Lugosi is truly the whole show, but his character's unhealthy harassment of the tiny Sidney makes him look like a real creep; still, it's the first of his many mad scientists, and his sideshow lecture provides his finest showcase. In viewing this film, I restructured it beginning with the fog-shrouded meeting with the prostitute, followed by her death, then Pierre's first visit to D'Arcy Corrigan's morgue, then the carnival (everything did flow much better that way). Director Robert Florey also completely botches the climax, with three ethnics arguing over which of them is right, and a rooftop chase that creates no tension. Apparently, in creating Ames' character of Pierre Dupin, Edgar Allan Poe virtually invented the fictional detective, about 40 years before Sherlock Holmes, presented as a medical student who conducts his own investigation into the Rue Morgue Murders. In 1942, Universal brought back Dupin (now named 'Paul' rather than 'Pierre'), in the person of actor Patric Knowles, in another Poe adaptation, "Mystery of Marie Roget."
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