6.9/10
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Mystery of the Wax Museum (1933)

The disappearance of people and corpses leads a reporter to a wax museum and a sinister sculptor.

Director:

Michael Curtiz

Writers:

Don Mullaly (screen play), Carl Erickson (screen play) | 1 more credit »
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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Lionel Atwill ... Ivan Igor
Fay Wray ... Charlotte Duncan
Glenda Farrell ... Florence Dempsey
Frank McHugh ... Jim
Allen Vincent ... Ralph Burton
Gavin Gordon ... George Winton
Edwin Maxwell ... Joe Worth
Holmes Herbert ... Dr. Rasmussen
Claude King ... Mr. Galatalin
Arthur Edmund Carewe ... Sparrow - Professor Darcy
Thomas E. Jackson Thomas E. Jackson ... Detective (as Thomas Jackson)
DeWitt Jennings ... Police Captain
Matthew Betz ... Hugo
Monica Bannister ... Joan Gale
Edit

Storyline

In London, sculptor Ivan Igor struggles in vain to prevent his partner Worth from burning his wax museum...and his 'children.' Years later, Igor starts a new museum in New York, but his maimed hands confine him to directing lesser artists. People begin disappearing (including a corpse from the morgue); Igor takes a sinister interest in Charlotte Duncan, fiancée of his assistant Ralph, but arouses the suspicions of Charlotte's roommate, wisecracking reporter Florence. Written by Rod Crawford <puffinus@u.washington.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

Images of wax that throbbed with human passion! Almost woman....what did they lack? See more »


Certificate:

Passed | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

18 February 1933 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Mystery of the Wax Museum See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Warner Bros. See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (Vitaphone)

Color:

Color (2-strip Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

To emphasize the similarities between the wax figures and the characters, some names are alike. For example, the suicidal Joan Gale inspires the statue of Joan of Arc. Charlotte, who should have been killed to recreate the figure of Marie Antoinette, was also the real name of the young lady who killed Marat, from the 'Assassination of Marat' depicted in the museum. See more »

Goofs

Florence's scarf goes from being buttoned in the editors office to unbuttoned in the police station, and the button on her scarf changes sides at least once. See more »

Quotes

Florence: I'm gonna make you eat dirt, you soap bubble.
See more »

Connections

Remade as House of Wax (2005) See more »

Soundtracks

Agitato
(uncredited)
Music by Bernhard Kaun
Stock cue played over main titles
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more »

User Reviews

 
Colorful Horror Film
23 January 2000 | by Ron OliverSee all my reviews

London after dark. A gallery of life-like wax figures. An argument, a fight & a fire. A man left to die in the flames. And as they melt, the figures seem to weep at their own destruction.

So starts MYSTERY OF THE WAX MUSEUM, credited as the first horror film with a modern urban setting - New York City. Glenda Farrell is the brash, blonde reporter trying to help her pal Fay Wray discover the secrets of a new wax museum just about to open, and those of its director Lionel Atwill, who is confined to a wheelchair due to a past accident. Murder & mayhem & wax-covered flesh will all figure into the plot before the mystery is solved.

This was one of Atwill's best roles, playing an artist driven to dementia by the destruction of the only things he ever really loved. His is a very special, nuanced performance.

Like DOCTOR X the year before, MYSTERY OF THE WAX MUSEUM benefits from wonderful Anton Grot sets (especially the wax bath) and from having been filmed in early two-strip Technicolor, which makes all the ghastly figures seem to come alive...


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