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Murders in the Rue Morgue (1932-Robert Florey)

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Murders in the Rue Morgue (1932-Robert Florey)

Postby moira finnie » October 24th, 2012, 9:44 pm

Murders in the Rue Morgue (1932-Robert Florey) is on TCM right now. What a kinkster freak show this pre-code is! The youngest Leon Ames I've ever seen is in this flick and apparently Arlene "I've Got a Secret" Francis is even in this movie as "A Woman of the Streets." Any opinions on this one?
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Re: Murders in the Rue Morgue (1932-Robert Florey)

Postby charliechaplinfan » October 25th, 2012, 8:10 am

I've got this movie and never got around to watching it, I'll bump it up to the top of the queue and join in the discussion.
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Re: Murders in the Rue Morgue (1932-Robert Florey)

Postby Western Guy » October 25th, 2012, 8:54 am

Moira, Lugosi is good as Dr, Mirakle; the period is nicely realized and there are a couple of creepy scenes; and, yes, a young Arlene Francis plays a victim of Lugosi's mad experiments. Oh, and the movie is short enough to not overstay its welcome, running at just over an hour.

Those are the pluses.

On the downside, Leon Ames and Sidney Fox are an awfully dull romantic couple (IMO). And the scenes with Erik the Ape are hilarious, with very bad intercutting between Charles Gomora in his ape suit and closeups of a real chimpanzee. Of course they look nothing alike.

I'd personally rate it a 2 1/2 out of 5. Would be a much lower score if not for Bela.

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Re: Murders in the Rue Morgue (1932-Robert Florey)

Postby RedRiver » October 25th, 2012, 12:49 pm

I liked it a lot as a kid. A more mature viewing found it slightly awkward. But the plot is classic! The 1950's PHANTOM OF THE RUE MORGUE is a little more polished. But the older one has that old time, Universal charm we've come to love. It's not bad!

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Re: Murders in the Rue Morgue (1932-Robert Florey)

Postby charliechaplinfan » October 25th, 2012, 2:29 pm

If it runs just over an hour it's perfect for putting on whilst I pile through the ironing on the kids half term week.
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Re: Murders in the Rue Morgue (1932-Robert Florey)

Postby Rita Hayworth » October 25th, 2012, 3:49 pm

RedRiver wrote:I liked it a lot as a kid. A more mature viewing found it slightly awkward. But the plot is classic! The 1950's PHANTOM OF THE RUE MORGUE is a little more polished. But the older one has that old time, Universal charm we've come to love. It's not bad!


Hey RedRiver, you are right on the nose here and I for one; support this assestment 100% ... and I have seen both of them ... and the 50's version is much better that the 32 version because it is more seasoned, more graphic, and slightly better suspense. The 32 version is a bona-fide classic because Lugosi made it memorable at times.

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Re: Murders in the Rue Morgue (1932-Robert Florey)

Postby Western Guy » October 26th, 2012, 12:03 pm

But come people: You can't tell that cross-cutting between costumed ape performer Gemora and the real organgutan or baboon, whatever primate used in closeup shots, isn't ridiculous.

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Re: Murders in the Rue Morgue (1932-Robert Florey)

Postby charliechaplinfan » October 26th, 2012, 1:39 pm

It was awfully funny and so obvious which was ape and which was a man in a suit. What a strange film, Bela makes you stay with it though. I have to say I really like Sidney Fox, not as much for her role here which is insipid but she looks like Mary Pickford's child and carries the same aura, if Janet Gaynor hadn't come along and nailed all the pretty waif type roles perhaps Sidney would be better known.

One scene fascinated me and it was the scene with Sidney on a flowered swing, very pretty but it was the camera angle that interested me, the camera must have been fixed to the swing and rose and fell as Sidney was swung backwards and forwards, thinking of how big the cameras were at the time, it mustn't have been the easiest thing to act naturally if you imagined what could happen if the camera came lose.
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Re: Murders in the Rue Morgue (1932-Robert Florey)

Postby MikeBSG » October 27th, 2012, 8:05 pm

I do like that scene on the swing.

There are aspects of this movie that I like. John Huston apparently wrote the script (one of his first, if not the first.) Also, Universal apparently recut the movie, rearranging scenes against Florey's wishes.

Still, I think "The Face Behind the Mask" is Florey's best horror movie. But his TV horror work, "The Changing Heart" for "Alfred Hitchcock Presents," "Perchance to Dream" for "The Twilight Zone," and "The Incredible Dr. Markesan" (with Karloff) for "Thriller" far outshines his horror movies.

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Re: Murders in the Rue Morgue (1932-Robert Florey)

Postby moira finnie » October 28th, 2012, 10:44 am

These videos may help those of us who are often intrigued by Mike's incisive recommendations. These give us a chance to explore Robert Florey's work further. My favorite of these would be Peter Lorre's touching performance, which begins below in The Face Behind the Mask (1941):

The Face Behind the Mask (1941)
[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KySqVgQN8Wg[/youtube]

Alfred HItchcock Presents: The Changing Heart (1961)
[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S5LaYuHcTiU[/youtube]

The Twilight Zone: Perchance to Dream (1959)
[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9_dhacV0SFc[/youtube]

Thriller: The Incredible Dr. Markesan (1962)
[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MYjVqxTIkvQ[/youtube]
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Re: Murders in the Rue Morgue (1932-Robert Florey)

Postby MikeBSG » October 28th, 2012, 9:15 pm

Lorre is indeed wonderful in "Face Behind the Mask." What intrigues me about that movie, and makes it as much a film noir as a horror film, is that Lorre is essentially a good guy who is corrupted/destroyed by America as opposed to an evil foreigner who must be destroyed to protect America. Not the kind of message one expects to find in a Hollywood movie of 1940/1941.

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Re: Murders in the Rue Morgue (1932-Robert Florey)

Postby Western Guy » October 29th, 2012, 9:51 am

Yes, and there's a lot of plot and good character development in the film's short running time. Excellent film indeed. Only wish it could be released on DVD -- perhaps in a Peter Lorre Collection!

Lorre was one of the most consistently entertaining actors in the business. A brilliant man!

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Re: Murders in the Rue Morgue (1932-Robert Florey)

Postby charliechaplinfan » October 29th, 2012, 11:11 am

I'd love a Peter Lorre collection, so many of his films need a release.
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Re: Murders in the Rue Morgue (1932-Robert Florey)

Postby ChiO » October 29th, 2012, 11:17 am

Florey has one of the more fascinating resumes in film -- from the Marx Brothers' THE COCOANUTS (1929) to The Outer Limits (1964), and the marvelous films mentioned above in-between, plus a turn as Associate Director of MONSIEUR VERDOUX (Chaplin 1947).

But the one that really gets me is an experimental film he made in 1928 with Slavko Vorkapich and, as cinematographer, Gregg Toland (and an uncredited Paul Ivano): THE LIFE AND DEATH OF 9413: A HOLLYWOOD EXTRA.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gkSxZJwOe_c[/youtube]
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Re: Murders in the Rue Morgue (1932-Robert Florey)

Postby intothenitrate » January 28th, 2013, 7:33 am

Robert Florey -- if I've got this right -- submitted a treatment for Frankenstein when Universal was kicking around the idea of bringing it to the screen. It may have been his script that Lugosi famously rejected because it rendered the monster as a grunting, murderous brute. In The Murders in the Rue Morgue, we get the brute in the form of a captive ape, and Lugosi in a fully realized, speaking (and machinating) role.

I was working my way down the directory of my Bela Lugosi Collection DVD to The Black Cat, and decided to take a look at this little gem again. It certainly falls a little short of the Greats of that era, but I found that I appreciate it more with each viewing.

CCF, you said that, weaknesses notwithstanding, "Bela makes you stay with it." I agree. One is tempted to fast-forward over the scenes with Leon Ames and Sidney Fox (to your point, WG). But the other thing that kept me watching was the incredible atmosphere created by the technical team, what David Skal calls "Hollywood Gothic." If you turn the sound down, you would think you were watching a silent from the Weimar period in Germany, thanks to cinematographer Karl Freund. It's a period piece, set in 1840's Paris. It's not a Paris that sparkles, but a Paris that -- on the street-level -- shows the years of wear and filth. Pierre, the male lead, makes a little speech to that effect to the SIdney Fox character, but the sentiment is much more eloquently expressed in the art direction, set design and lighting. {Also, if I'm not mistaken, we get to see little architectural remnants from the sets of Frankenstein.}

If I remember my Poe correctly, Piere Dupin is a detective in the original story the film takes its name from. The fact that it was an ape -- an "Ourang-outang" -- that commits the atrocities is a big reveal at the end of the mystery. The ape is the one agent that would have been able to gain entrance to a locked apartment, have the strength to shove the mother up the chimney, and carry away the girl. The script of this film is not so clever. There is no mystery, no red herrings, just step-by-step, in-you-face story-telling that leads to a predictable resolution.

Maybe Florey got better with age, but the film is eminently watch-able because of Lugosi and the artful execution. [And no, I didn't have a problem with the ape. I just went with it].

Here's one final thing that's got me wondering. In the first part of the film, when we meet Dr Mirakle at the carnival, he gives a very earnest, scholarly dissertation about evolutionary theory. To my ears, it sounds pretty well-reasoned, up to but NOT including his concluding remarks. The thesis presented at this mid-century side-show predates Darwin by forty-some-odd-years. {Is that an anachronism?} But more to the point, what I'm wondering about is the intent of the filmmakers in 1930s Hollywood. By delivering a discourse to us on evolutionary theory through the character of a madman, are they intending to dismiss, disparage, or cast it in a sinister light? Is that a "horror" that chilled 1930s audiences that just goes right over our heads today? One could ask the same question about the horror factor of The Island of Lost Souls. [Which, by the way, also features the fabled Gemora ape costume}.

Hmmmm.
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Goodnight Basington


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