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Murders in the Rue Morgue (1932-Robert Florey)

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

Postby MikeBSG » January 28th, 2013, 9:18 am

A very thoughtful post, intotheNitrate.

The terrific book "American Gothic" by Jonathan Rigby looks at American horror films from 1896 to 1956. The big surprise to me from the book was how often apes appeared in American horror movies of that (pre-Civil Rights) era. They were far more common than vampires or werewolves. Indeed, while Rigby doesn't explicitly say this, I got the impression that vampires and werewolves were largely the monsters of choice for emigre filmmakers while the more "American" filmmakers tended to go for the apes.

How this works out for "Murders in the Rue Morgue" is that it was directed by Robert Florey, an emigre, and written by John Huston, an American. So while the very Weimarish look of the film can be attributed to Florey, the speech came from Huston. Huston has a reputation of being both a liberal and a practical joker. Maybe the speech was Huston's way of twitting the audience? Certainly, as some writers have pointed out, it is not a speech you expect to find in a movie less than a decade after the Scopes trial. Most books on Huston act as if his brief stint with Universal never happened, (He also wrote an excellent Wyatt Earp-themed western, "Law and Order" at that time.) so I don't know if Huston ever said what he was up to with this movie. Certainly he never really returned to the horror genre (although I guess he made one around 1980, "Phobia," that was considered so bad it was never released.) so he may have been happy to put this behind him.

And, as I understand it, "Murders in the Rue Morgue" did provoke some harmful controversy and was not a box office success, to the extent that Universal cut a lot of talk about reincarnation from "The Mummy" which came out later in 1932 trying to make that film less controversial.

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

Postby RedRiver » January 28th, 2013, 1:01 pm

I like "Rue Morgue." It's just silly enough to be fun; just creepy enough to be exciting.

story-telling that leads to a predictable resolution.

Not if you're twelve. The first time I saw it, I practically fell out of my chair!

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

Postby intothenitrate » January 29th, 2013, 11:09 am

Hi Mike. I had no idea that Huston was working so early in the thirties. I remember in the title credits that Florey is given credit for the story.

As far as public objection is concerned, I have to sympathize a little. The scene where he experiments on and then disposes of the streetwalker is pretty shocking...although I secretly love it too.
"Immorality may be fun, but it isn't fun enough to take the place of one hundred percent virtue and three square meals a day."
Goodnight Basington

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

Postby MikeBSG » January 29th, 2013, 10:04 pm

As I understand it, Huston worked for Universal for about a year, then left the United States and tried to make it as an artist in Paris. After sleeping on park benches for a while, he came back to Hollywood and eventually ended up as a writer for Warner Brothers, which is when he began seriously applying himself to movies.

But I am always impressed by "Law and Order" (1932) directed by Edward L. Cahn, which Huston wrote. It is a terrific Wyatt Earp film (although the characters names have been changed.) Walter Huston is Earp and Harry Carey is the Doc Holiday figure.

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

Postby Western Guy » January 30th, 2013, 2:09 pm

Yes Mike, LAW AND ORDER Is a great Western and quite gritty for the time (wish TCM would get around to showing it). Based on the novel "Saint Johnson" by W.R. Burnett (my favorite writer), the story later urbanized as an unusually violent and downbeat (for the era and the studio which produced it: MGM) gangster flick: THE BEAST OF THE CITY.

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

Postby RedRiver » January 30th, 2013, 6:01 pm

I've read very little of W. R. Burnett's fiction. But it seems as if half the movies of that era were based on his stories! ASPHALT JUNGLE is probably the book I most want to read.

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

Postby Western Guy » January 30th, 2013, 7:47 pm

You're right, RedRiver. Burnett was a very prolific writer whose work covered many genres (as well as formats). Was credited as a writer on SCARFACE (appropriately), later WAKE ISLAND and later yet: THE GREAT ESCAPE. Amazing list of credits both as a novelist and screenwriter -- and not forgetting those films adapted from his books, such as NOBODY LIVES FOREVER, based on his intriguingly-titled novel "I Wasn't Born Yesterday" and the John Wayne Western DARK COMMAND.

From Wikipedia: He (Burnett) left his civil service job to move to Chicago when he was 28, by which time he had written over a hundred short stories and five novels, all unpublished.

His tombstone should read: The epitome of perseverance.

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

Postby RedRiver » January 31st, 2013, 1:51 pm

I do have access to a copy of LITTLE CAESAR. For some reason, that one doesn't appeal to me. I read a lot of crime fiction. Not so much ORGANIZED crime. I have read NOBODY LIVES FOREVER. Didn't know about the original title. The copy I had was probably re-titled after the Garfield film.


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