In France, an insane surgeon's obsession with an actress from England leads him to replace her pianist husband's hands that got mangled in an accident with the hands of a late knife murderer which still have the urge to throw knives.
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 <firstname.lastname@example.org>
This film was produced before the Production Code. When it was re-made only 20 years later, as House of Wax (1953), all references to drug use were removed and a character was changed from a junkie to an alcoholic. See more »
When Florence is studying the wax figure of Joan of Arc she glances down and sees a tag laying in a crate, when she picks it up she's not wearing gloves but is wearing them when she puts the tag in her pocket. See more »
My dear, why are you so pitifully afraid? Immortality has been the dream, the inspiration of mankind through the ages. And I am going to give you immortality!
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She has been so sorely maligned. Despite what has been claimed by others here, Glenda Farrell was not a bad actress. A little broad sometimes perhaps, but not bad. She is a dynamo of live energy, which the film badly needs, for the only other energetic character in the film is Atwill, and only Farrell has the force to bring him down(that the script does not let her do so personally betrays the character). It is not Farrell's performance or even her character which is the problem of the film, but the script which makes that character necessary. Chock Full O' undeveloped characters (only Atwill and Farrell qualify as more than ciphers)whose paths cross coincidentally,Farrell's reporter is the one in the middle bringing the disparate elements together. A reporter or policeman had to be the central character, for only one of those two would be privy to all or even enough of the info needed to solve the puzzle, or to even recognize that the puzzle existed. And only a female reporter could be Fay Wray's roommate, as female police detectives or beat cops didn't exist(at least not in Hollywood). And only a fast-talking, wisecracking, brash and fierce female reporter able to beat the stereotypical fast-talking, wisecracking, brash 1930's male reporter at his own game could find the story AND crack the case before the police. Others have objected to the attention given the comic relief, apparently misunderstanding the term. Comic relief characters are supporting characters, and in this film, despite third billing, Glenda Farrell is the female lead. Fay Wray was a freelancer and able to negotiate better billing even though her role doesn't deserve it. Had she not had a real lead in the companion film DR.X, it's unlikely she would have been asked to take such a small part. Charlotte is needed in the story only for a face, and her face and scream are all Wray is allowed to bring to the role. As outstanding as those two attributes are, they don't add up to a real character. And while Farrell cracks wise, she is doing serious work central to the tale. A role with comedic content is not automatically a comic relief part. The script is a mess, letting down the great concept. HOUSE OF WAX is a much tighter script, more linear, combining ingenue and snoop into one role, and beefing up the part of the disfigured sculptor. It drops the very extraneous playboy character and the loose ends which trail in his wake. But most agree that HOUSE is boring compared to MYSTERY, and in addition to the direction and editing, much of MYSTERY's drive comes from the girl reporter and the crack actress who played her. Even if you do find her grating, Glenda Farrell is never boring.
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