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Mystery of the Wax Museum

(1933 c 78')

En: 5 Ed: 5

In this adaptation of Charles Belden's play a sculptor of wax figures is maimed in a fire but recreates his work by using murder victims.

In 1921 London Ivan Igor (Lionel Atwill) shows off his wax figures. Owner Joe Worth (Edwin Maxwell) has lost 15,000 pounds and starts a fire to get 10,000 from the insurance. He and Igor fight, as figures melt in the flames.

On New Year's day 1933 papers report the suicide of Joan Gale. At the morgue a deformed man steals her corpse. Editor Jim (Frank McHugh) tells Florence (Glenda Farrell) to leave newspaper work if she can't get a good story. From the police she discovers Gale may have been murdered with laudanum and visits suspected millionaire playboy George Winton (Gavin Gordon) in jail. She learns eight bodies have been stolen recently.

A new wax museum is opening in New York, and Igor in a wheelchair berates his sculptors. A box with a woman figure is opened. Florence's roommate Charlotte (Fay Wray) likes poor Ralph (Allen Vincent). Winton gets out of jail, and Florence looks at the figures, finding a tag. Igor sees Charlotte as Marie Antoinette and asks her to pose. Florence at the paper looks at Gale's photo, telling Jim that Gale is in the museum. Igor tells people how he trained people to reproduce the figures. Florence learns Joan of Arc was done that morning. Winton picks up Florence, and they follow Darcy (Arthur Edmund Carewe). Florence goes in and finds Gale's body, while police question Winton. Police break in, search, and find whiskey in the box. Darcy is arrested and questioned, while Florence takes a few bottles. Police find Judge Ramsey's watch on Darcy.

Charlotte asks for Ralph at the museum, and Igor sends her to the workroom, where she is locked in and runs from a crazed Igor. Ralph lets Florence in the museum, and she compares Voltaire to a photo of Ramsey. Darcy confesses Ramsey was killed to be Voltaire. Igor offers Charlotte immortality. She rips off his mask, revealing his burnt face. Igor shows her the corpse of Worth. Ralph fights Igor but is knocked out. Charlotte is manacled, and Igor prepares to pour hot wax on her; but police break in, fight with Igor, and shoot him; he falls in the pool of wax. Ralph removes Charlotte before the wax pours on her. Jim tells Florence her story was lucky and asks her to marry him. She looks out the window at Winton but says yes.

This bizarre story of murdering people to make wax figures of them attempts to be explained psychologically by the trauma Igor experienced in the fire, though it's hard to believe a person could be so badly twisted.

Copyright © 1999 by Sanderson Beck

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