The Murders in the Rue Morgue (TV Movie 1986) Poster

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Pretty decent adaptation
Vomitron_G9 February 2009
-- The Book:

An very involving read. An intelligent murder mystery (albeit not too complex, as it is a short story) in which the reader can't do anything but tag along for the ride. Lots of clever deductions and conclusions will have you both scratching your head and smiling when the killer's identity is finally revealed.

-- The Movie:

This made-for-TV adaptation does stay true to the nature of Poe's short. It's an adequate adaptation, both in look, feel and atmosphere. David Epstein, writer of the teleplay, did his best to give the characters more depth as well as adding a few. More than decent performances by George C. Scott and Rebecca De Mornay. Val Kilmer, at the time a rather inexperienced actor, gave it his best shot too, one can tell. My only grief is, that the movie was made for TV. In Poe's story, the two murders - or at least the aftermath - are described in gruesome detail. They had to be, because those murders are the core of the plot; the events that jump-start the whole mystery. Sadly, we don't get to see the bloody details in the movie, and we can only guess how brutal the murders were. Revealing the killer at the end, worked a little better in the book (due to the nature of the killer), but the effects were convincing enough. It's a good film, though horror enthusiasts searching for kicks and thrills might find it a bit disappointing.
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A Fairly Faithful Adaptation of the Poe Tale
gavin694230 October 2012
A detective (George C. Scott) comes out of retirement to help his daughter's fiancé (Neil Dickson) prove that he did not commit a series of murders.

I really enjoyed this film, and was surprised to see it was the only attempt to adapt the Poe tale since the 1930s (the one in the 1970s hardly counts as being remotely close to the source material). While I think some liberties were taken (my memory of the story is not perfect), it follows the general feel and does its best to keep the mystery going as long as it can.

And, indeed, that is what I enjoyed most about the film -- the mystery! How did the killer get in and out of the house? What was the motive? Why did he not want the gold coins? Even though I already knew the story, they successfully brought me along for the ride.
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Closest yet to Poe, but still not quite there
FISHCAKE5 September 1999
While the basic crime plot of Poe's story is the framework of this color film noir, we have tacked onto it a melange of elements not in the story, not the least of which is having Dupin as a cashiered, or maybe just retired, Inspector of Police. The "real" Dupin was often consulted by the Prefect of Police, but he was a private citizen, a recluse if you will, with marvelous powers of ratiocination. Furthermore, where did the writers get the idea that the Prefect hated Dupin. According to the stories he pretended a supercilious attitude, but knew that often without Dupin he was nowhere. In this film, we see Dupin at work but get no details about his "ratiocination". It's a good cast, though, and interesting seeing them at work. Give it an A+ for atmosphere, but a C- for classic tale telling.
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andrei cretulescu28 October 2002
I've been waiting to see this film for about 10 years. There never was and there NEVER will be a truly great screen adaptation of Edgar Allan Poe. Because it can't be done. Given that Poe is definitely one of my favourite writers, you probably would suggest that I shouldn't watch any movie (or TV movie) based on one of his writings. True. But I love movies, and one of the best I've seen is The Pit and the Pendulum, directed by the great Roger Corman, which is an adaptation of Poe's short story and has virtually NOTHING to do with it. But Corman is Corman and he did 5 or 6 movies based (inspired by...) on Poe, and they're all classics (if you love this kind of cinema), and Vincent Price is absolutely splendid and...enough about history. Therefore, you should never expect a brilliant(or even decent)adaptation of Poe, but if you agree with that and if you are prepared to swallow characters and facts that aren't present in Poe's story (Murders in the Rue Morgue, that is) then you're in for a treat. The lugubrious atmosphere, the fluid camerawork, the impressive production design and the magnificent location all add panache to a well told (by David Epstein) and well directed (by Jeannot "Somewhere in Time" Szwarc) tale. And let's not forget the great, late George C.Scott, whose presence alone makes the film worthwile. And listen closely...If you love Poe just on paper, better stay away! If you haven't read the story (and if you like Scott), stick with it! Just remember - if you want a gore movie, wait till Dario Argento makes his own version. If you want an intellectual/perverse/subversive flick, talk to Polanski or De Palma. This one is just a TV movie.
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Excellent TV movie
Lamia760926 August 2002
I checked this out last night from our Library. I was more than a little surprised by how good it was. I hadn't read Rue Morgue since I was in 6th grade, so I didn't remember the plot. This seems to have upset a few people, since apparently the movie didn't follow the plot of the original story. I truly enjoyed it and if hadn't been for the segways I wouldn't have known it was made for TV. It looked great and is by far one of the best made for TV movies I've ever seen...especially given that it was made in 1986. George C Scott is always such a presence on screen. If you get a chance please watch in on VHS instead of TV with all the commercial breaks. You could probably find it at a library..if you live in a metro area.
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Just Didn't Deliver
ccthemovieman-11 November 2006
Considering the fine start in this film, the movie overall was a huge disappointment. Part of that great beginning was the cinematography, a real eye-grabber particularly in the first 5-10 minutes.

The story begins to drag after awhile and it wasn't worthwhile sticking with it all the way - even though I did - because the ending is very unsatisfying.

I didn't recognize Rebecca deMornay, she looked so young. Val Kilmer, too, must have been at the beginning of his career. Being a TV movie, the language was pretty tame, which was nice, but the story just didn't deliver. It's not something I would give a second look.
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Poe would have been so proud!!
dtucker8619 September 2003
This is one of the classics truly brought to life. Edgar Allen Poe was one of my favorite authors and he was a true magician with the English language. This is a beautiful TV film that really did justice to one of his greatest works thanks to one of our finest American actors. George C. Scott was one of those rare breed of actors who could do everything and anything and did it!He was that good at what he did. He made any film that he was in excellent. He gave a masterful performance as the great detective Dupin in this film and Rebecca De Morney gave him excellent support as his daughter. This film really brought Paris to life and is beautiful to look at. There was an older version of this film starring Bela Lugosi that really took liberties with Poe's story and made it into a cheap horror film, they didn't do it here and that is what makes it worth watching. This was an early example of "psychological profiling" Dupin tried to match any individual into his profile of the murder and had to come up with the fact that it wasn't a human at all. It is far-fetched! but Scott makes it worth your while. Everything about this film from the musical score to the smallest supporting performances is A plus.
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not good, in spite of the cast
hbs1 October 2001
It isn't terrible, but it's just another mediocre TV movie in spite of the cast and story (the Poe story is ridiculous, but it's fun). The story lurches along until the last 15 minutes, when it falls flat on its face. The ending is abrupt, leaving major story threads flapping in the breeze, and the clumsy attempt to surprise the 1 in 100 viewers that hasn't heard the plot of the Poe story is very distracting. There is also a subplot involving a feud between the detective and the police commissioner that is totally unnecessary. Finally, the cinematography is occasionally muddy. On the plus side there is the good cast and the locations are very attractive, so it's tolerable.
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A solid cast brings the old story back to life
Leofwine_draca29 August 2016
Warning: Spoilers
An interesting adaptation of the Edgar Allan Poe short story, THE MURDERS IN THE RUE MORGUE concentrates heavily on costumes (which are admittedly classy) and scenery at the cost of atmosphere and suspense. That's not to say that it isn't a good film, but it does lack that necessary oomph needed to drive it into being something really good. The main reason I found the film had no suspense was that I had read the short story previously and so I already knew the identity of the killer (which is kept ambiguous throughout the film).

The acting here is superb, and much of the weight lies on the shoulders of the late, lamented George C. Scott, who is perfectly cast as the fussy and brilliant detective Dupin (a forerunner of Sherlock Holmes), and has all the mannerisms and intelligence down to a tee. He is given able support by the fresh-faced Val Kilmer in a supporting role, while Rebecca De Mornay, better known to audiences for her role as a psychotic nanny in THE HAND THAT ROCKS THE CRADLE, is the token female caught up in the danger. Also appearing is the comedy gent Ian McShane, star of TV's LOVEJOY! Sadly he is not flogging any antique paintings in this film.

The gore is light, with some blood splashed over the walls being the main highlight. One interesting aspect is the murder scenes in a park dotted through the film, which serve no real purpose and are a result of the '80s slasher craze, which don't really fit in with the rest of the murder mystery format. There are some great animatronics in the film too. If you're a fan of crime fiction or of Poe then this film is worth seeing as an above average adaptation. It's also a lot similar to a Sherlock Holmes story (with Scott as Holmes and Kilmer as Watson) so if you're anything at all a fan of this kind of classic locked-room murder story (like I am) then this one might be worth a look, even if only for Scott's presence.
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"Nothing comes before chess, my dear".
lost-in-limbo14 June 2014
Edgar Allan Poe's story sees another adaptation in this 80s made-for-TV outing starring some names in George C Scott, Rebecca De Mornay and Val Kilmer. It's diverting, but very unexceptional and stagy in the details. In honesty it's the strong performances that really carry this one, especially a stalwart Scott and a headstrong De Mornay. How the cast worked of each other kept me glued. Some atmospherics are etched out nicely, with fitting period details of a turn of a century Paris and there's a dark, grim air lurking about. The deaths happen off screen, but there's something ghastly about them and that's mainly due to its effective use of sound. However the story is all about the investigation/mystery of two murdered women and it's somewhat stiff in its execution of it. Even with the script throwing around ideas, theories in its quest to uncover the motive of the puzzling deaths it just fared as a typical crime plot of outrageous circumstances. Still at least it didn't find itself getting distracted by certain sub-plots. Earnest entertainment.
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Scott is Great but the Film is a Disappointment
Michael_Elliott5 September 2012
The Murders in the Rue Morgue (1986)

** (out of 4)

Made-for-TV version of the Edgar Allan Poe story has Detective Auguste Dupin (George C. Scott) coming out of retirement after his daughter (Rebecca DeMornay) comes to him saying that her fiancé has been charged with the brutal murder of a group of people. There aren't any real clues and it appears the murderer just vanished from the scene of the crime and it doesn't take long for the veteran detective to realize something strange is going on. This version of the familiar story really comes across as a disappointment for a number of reasons, which is a real shame since we got such a good cast of actors. The screenplay is the real villain here because the entire thing is shown from the detective's point of view. I'm going to guess that if you were unfamiliar with the story then perhaps this approach would work but if you know who the killer is then the suspense is pretty much taken away from you. The entire film is built around who did the murders but those familiar with the story already know. I think a straight adaptation would have been much more effective had the film let us in on the "secret" and went from there. Another problem is that the music score gets quite annoying at times as it's constantly going into high gear to make you feel as if a scene is all the more dramatic than it really is. Director Jeannot Szwarc (JAWS 2) does a decent job with the material he has to work with. He does manage to build up a nice atmosphere and he also gets some good performances from his cast. Val Kilmer appears in a small role and does a nice job. DeMornay isn't too bad, although she isn't always believable playing the weak lady. She also has to deal with the screenplay giving her an incredibly annoying character. As for Scott, as you'd expect, he's terrific and really delivers a strong performance. It's really too bad he wasn't given a better screenplay because his performance does so much with little to work with. THE MURDERS IN THE RUE MORGUE is pretty flat all around, which is a shame because there's some good stuff scattered throughout.
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All brawn and no brains - good actors miscast, poor direction, poor script
BERSERKERpoetry25 September 2008
When the basic story of a film is good, you naturally want to like it. But, sometimes, about half of the way through, you realize that it hasn't lived up to expectations. Edgar Allan Poe wrote a fantastic tale, no doubts there. But this film is sadly misguided.

Several factors contribute to this. First, David Epstein's screenplay effectively rips all the subtlety out of the source material. Second, director Jeannot Szwarc makes absolutely no attempt to film this in a way that takes advantage of its low budget and venue. Finally, the casting is utterly random. Accents and nationalities are thrown together with total abandon.

In spite of all that, some the cast members manage to put in good performances. George C. Scott (as Auguste Dupin) is really excellent, with great command of his dialogue. Naturally, he is miscast, but acts as if he is in a far better film. A very young Val Kilmer (as Phillipe) is good, but has almost nothing to work with. He too, is miscast, though the main reason I originally watched this. Ian McShane is certainly entertaining, but his character has no subtlety.

After the acting, there's little to say. The only quality the film has left it owes to its source material. This might have been acceptable for an original script, but as a badly adapted story, it is simply disappointing.

The editing seems haphazard at points, either that important scenes were removed, or never filmed. Dupin's realization of the culprit is never explained, nor the contents of his newspaper ad, or any of his deductive process for that matter. Phillipe's process of discovering Adolphe's unfaithfulness is also never explained.

Finally, the intelligence of the script dips considerably by the final scenes. I won't elaborate, but they have all the brains of a 1950s horror B movie. Really weak.

RATING: 6.2 out of 10
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bad acting, implausible plot, and scientifically wrong
anonreview22 November 2012
Warning: Spoilers
This movie is PATHETIC and BORING!. Kilmer and Mornay are stiffer than concrete. the plot is ridiculous--nothing but the worst caricatures and uninformed stereotypical behaviors ever portrayed in a film. the illogical events in the film are untenable--e.g., having sworn to protect the young virgin, the young detective then leaves her alone in the dark park, to be subsequently attacked, even though he knows the murderer is still at large and supposedly in the park! Moreover, it is factually untrue that the "murderer" could have committed this crime, as this species is completely vegetarian and non-violent towards humans unless directly attacked. Check out writings by Birute Galdikas if you have any doubts.

It is shameful to perpetuate such outdated notions about a fellow primate that is on the verge of extinction because of humans.
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