MURDERS IN THE RUE MORGUE, 1932
Cast: Sidney Fox, Bela Lugosi, Leon Ames, Bert Roach, Betty Ross Clarke
Itís Paris 1845, and the psychotic Dr. Mirakle (Bela Lugosi) will prove to man its kinship with the ape by injecting the blood of a primate into women, but with every attempt a failure, the bodies of the young women end up in the morgue. Touring with the circus, the Crow-Magnum eye-browed Doctor and Eric the ape, his caged companion, take a strong liking to audience member Ms. Mlle. Camille L'Espanaye (Sidney Fox), and together they hunt her down for use in the experiment. But Camilleís love interest-- medical student Pierre Dupin (Leon Ames)-- has been on the trail of Dr. Mirakleís murders. Dupin must race against time and work around the law to save the damsel in distress from the creepy doctor and his monstrous ape.
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After both director Florey and legendary actor Bela Lugosi were dropped by Universal Studios from Frankenstein in 1931, they turned to this project with the help of writers Tom Reed, Dale Van Every, and cinematographer Karl Freund, the late director of the 1932 classic The Mummy staring Boris Karloff. The film speaks loudly for this era of cinema, an age when the craft was still in its training wheels. Sound had only been introduced into film 5 years previous, thanks to the groundbreaking, ever so racists black face film, The Jazz Singer, and the monumental importance of pacing had yet to be fully understood.
Karl Freundís cinematography manages to strike a visual nerve, something critics credited the film for during its release. Though it is watered down by poor rhythm, Freundís work is evident of his passion to tell a story through the lens, but the other side of that focal point has some trouble. Over-dramatized and out dated, the acting comes off too over the top with the modern day audience. Scenes drag on with unrealistic dialogue (maybe it worked back then?) and, unfortunately, it only works for a giggle now.
The film never hit classic status, but other horror intellects may disagree. Murders in the Rue Morgue has only been released on DVD in a Bela Lugosi collection and the original film was screened in early January (2010) at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City.