6.8/10
4,261
95 user 45 critic

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 »
Reviews

Photos

Learn more

More Like This 

Doctor X (1932)
Comedy | Crime | Horror
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.4/10 X  

A wisecracking New York reporter intrudes on a research scientist's quest to unmask The Moon Killer.

Director: Michael Curtiz
Stars: Lionel Atwill, Fay Wray, Lee Tracy
House of Wax (1953)
Certificate: GP Horror
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  

An associate burns down a wax museum with the owner inside, but he survives only to become vengeful and murderous.

Director: André De Toth
Stars: Vincent Price, Frank Lovejoy, Phyllis Kirk
Crime | Horror | Sci-Fi
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  

After hapless pianist and ex-con John Elman is framed for murder, he is resurrected by a scientist after his execution.

Director: Michael Curtiz
Stars: Boris Karloff, Ricardo Cortez, Edmund Gwenn
Mad Love (1935)
Certificate: Passed Horror | Romance | Sci-Fi
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  

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.

Director: Karl Freund
Stars: Peter Lorre, Frances Drake, Colin Clive
Certificate: Passed Horror | Mystery
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.3/10 X  

When a nobleman is murdered, a professor of the occult blames vampires; but not all is what it seems.

Director: Tod Browning
Stars: Lionel Barrymore, Elizabeth Allan, Bela Lugosi
Certificate: Passed Crime | Horror
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.5/10 X  

A monomaniacal zoologist is pathologically jealous of his beautiful but unfaithful wife Evelyn and will not stop short of murder to keep her.

Director: A. Edward Sutherland
Stars: Charles Ruggles, Lionel Atwill, Gail Patrick
Certificate: Passed Drama | Horror | Mystery
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.7/10 X  

When corpses drained of blood begin to show up in a European village, vampirism is suspected to be responsible.

Director: Frank R. Strayer
Stars: Lionel Atwill, Fay Wray, Melvyn Douglas
Certificate: Passed Drama | Horror | Sci-Fi
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7/10 X  

An escaped convict uses miniaturized humans to wreak vengeance on those that framed him.

Director: Tod Browning
Stars: Lionel Barrymore, Maureen O'Sullivan, Frank Lawton
The Raven (1935)
Crime | Horror
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7/10 X  

A brilliant surgeon obsessed with Edgar Allan Poe saves the life of a beautiful dancer and goes mad when he can't have her.

Director: Lew Landers
Stars: Boris Karloff, Bela Lugosi, Lester Matthews
The Black Cat (1934)
Adventure | Crime | Horror
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7/10 X  

American honeymooners in Hungary become trapped in the home of a Satan-worshiping priest when the bride is taken there for medical help following a road accident.

Director: Edgar G. Ulmer
Stars: Boris Karloff, Bela Lugosi, David Manners
Certificate: Passed Crime | Horror | Mystery
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.4/10 X  

A mad scientist seeks to mingle human blood with that of an ape, and resorts to kidnapping women for his experiments.

Director: Robert Florey
Stars: Bela Lugosi, Sidney Fox, Leon Ames
Certificate: Passed Drama | Horror | Mystery
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.5/10 X  

Twenty years after 3 murders occur in a castle's "blue room", three men who each want to marry a beautiful girl decide to spend a night in the room to prove their bravery to her.

Director: Kurt Neumann
Stars: Lionel Atwill, Gloria Stuart, Paul Lukas
Edit

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 ... 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:

Another Lovely Woman Vanished from the Earth!...Another Beauty Molded to His Desire! See more »


Certificate:

Passed | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
Edit

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 »
Edit

Did You Know?

Trivia

The shot of the 'monster' lifting up the sheet in the morgue was, along with many other Warner Bros. films of the early 1930s, incorporated into the opening credits of their 1974 musical MAME. See more »

Goofs

Early in the movie, the shadow of the camera is visible on the road as the man crosses the street, and then again when Charlotte walks into the police station, this time on the backs of chairs and on the table. See more »

Quotes

Florence: Listen, Joan Gale's body was swiped from the morgue, have you ever heard of such a thing as a death mask?
Jim: I used to be married to one.
Florence: Then it came to life and divorced you, I know all about that.
See more »


Soundtracks

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

Frequently Asked Questions

See more »

User Reviews

 
Bodies of Evidence
16 November 2008 | by lugonianSee all my reviews

MYSTERY OF THE WAX MUSEUM (Warner Brothers, 1933), reunites director Michael Curtiz with his DOCTOR X (First National, 1932) co-stars, Lionel Atwill and Fay Wray, in another two-strip Technicolor horror/comedy mystery. A carbon copy of DOCTOR X with a few alterations and improvements thrown in, it ranks the finest and most noteworthy of the Atwill-Fay collaborations (1933's THE VAMPIRE BAT for Majestic was their second), as well as the most eerie and mysterious of them all. While Atwill and Wray had equal status in their initial two outings, Atwill this time dominates while Wray, interestingly, has little to do, not making her screen presence until 30 minutes from the opening titles. She's gone for long stretches and is not visible in the fade-out while Glenda Farrell, the secondary female character, comes close to being the lead, or so it appears. Regardless of Wray's limitations, her character is quite crucial to the story and to Atwill's mentally unbalanced character.

Opening with a prologue set in 1921 London introduces Ivan Igor (Lionel Atwill) as a brilliant sculptor of wax figures of noteworthy figures as Joan of Arc, Jack the Ripper, Disraeli, and his most favorite, Marie Antoinette, hoping for his museum to become successful once it opens to the public. Because he's invested more money than anticipated, Joe Worth (Edwin Maxwell), his partner whom he owes back salary, comes upon a plan to get back some of his investment by burning down the museum and collect on the fire insurance. A fight ensues between the two partners, with Worth breaking away, locking Igor inside the museum surrounded by flames where he's left to burn along with his wax figures. Move forward, New Year's Eve, 1933, in New York City. Ivan, who has survived the burning flames, is wheelchair bound. Unable to recreate his wax figures due to his severely burned hands, he hires assistants, Ralph (Allen Vincent); D'Arcy (Arthur Edmund Carewe) and Hugo (Matthew Betz) to sculpt wax figures for him under his supervision. Successfully reproducing his original creations, Igor is unable to do the same with Marie Antoinette, that is, until he meets her replica, Charlotte Duncan (Fay Wray), Ralph's fiancée. In the meantime, a series of murders have taken place with bodies mysteriously disappearing from the morgue from some figure in a cloak. Millionaire playboy Harold Ritten (Gavin Gordon), who happened to be with Joan Gale on the night of her murder, is suspected and jailed. Florence Parks (Glenda Farrell), Charlotte's roommate and gal reporter for the New York Express, is assigned by her editor (Frank McHugh) to investigate. Following her interview with Harold leading to her constant snooping around Igor's 14th Street wax museum, she discovers something quite startling in connection to the murder, hence "the mystery of the wax museum."

If the story sounds at all familiar, it was reworked more famously as HOUSE OF WAX (Warners, 1954) starring Vincent Price in the Atwill role. Due to the popularity of the remake, the original from which it was based, was virtually unknown, especially since no prints of MYSTERY OF THE WAX MUSEUM have survived. Fortunately, an original print was discovered, according to sources, in Jack L. Warner's private vault around the late 1960s. WAX MUSEUM finally turned up on commercial television, notably on New York City's WPIX, Channel 11's "Chiller Theater" on February 10, 1973, where it broadcast annually until 1978, only in black and white format only. It would be another decade before two-strip Technicolor prints surfaced and distributed on home video and DVD, with broadcasts on Turner Network Television (1988-1993) and finally Turner Classic Movies (1994-present).

With Glenda Farrell assuming the wisecracking reporter role Lee Tracy enacted in DOCTOR X, her performance in this venture seems right and warranted, improving over Tracy's lackluster buffoonery. Even if Farrell's character disappoints, the script does not and neither does Atwill. Who could forget his key scenes as the bearded Igor conversing with his favorite wax figure of Marie Antoinette, and his outlook as he witnesses the melting of his "children" in a blazing fire (very realistically done and effective in color), along with his unforgettable confrontation with the screaming Wray as he offers her "eternal life" in the manner that would have done 1925s "Phantom of the Opera" star Lon Chaney proud had he lived to see this.

In some ways, THE MYSTERY OF THE WAX MUSEUM is perfect, in others it's not, but must have been good enough to acquire a remake, find the missing negative for the original and have it displayed as one of the finer horror classics to come out from the 1930s. (**1/2)


6 of 6 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you? | Report this
Review this title | See all 95 user reviews »

Contribute to This Page

Free Movies and TV Shows You Can Watch Now

On IMDb TV, you can catch Hollywood hits and popular TV series at no cost. Select any poster below to play the movie, totally free!

Browse free movies and TV series

Stream Trending TV Series With Prime Video

Explore popular and recently added TV series available to stream now with Prime Video.

Start your free trial



Recently Viewed