Mystery of the Wax Museum (1933)

72 or 75 mins | Mystery, Horror | 18 February 1933

Director:

Michael Curtiz

Cinematographer:

Ray Rennahan

Editor:

George Amy

Production Designer:

Anton Grot

Production Company:

Warner Bros. Pictures, Inc.
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HISTORY

This film was also known as Wax Museum . It was the last film to be made with the two-color Technicolor process. Some contemporary sources refer to Charles S. Belden's story as a play. Andre de Toth directed a 3-D version of the story called House of Wax in 1953 starring Vincent Price, which was also released by Warner Bros. Although a TV series based on the idea was to have been made, it did not make it to television and the pilot was released as the theatrical feature Chamber of Horrors in 1966 (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1961-70 ; F6.0733). Roger Corman also used the basic story in Bucket of Blood in 1959. Modern sources state that a large photographic blow-up of a scene featuring Lionel Atwill and Fay Wray was used as a theatrical backdrop in The Florentine Dagger directed by Robert Florey in 1935. According to modern sources, the enormous heat generated by the lights needed for the two-color process made the wax figures melt, so in most scenes, the figures were played by ... More Less

This film was also known as Wax Museum . It was the last film to be made with the two-color Technicolor process. Some contemporary sources refer to Charles S. Belden's story as a play. Andre de Toth directed a 3-D version of the story called House of Wax in 1953 starring Vincent Price, which was also released by Warner Bros. Although a TV series based on the idea was to have been made, it did not make it to television and the pilot was released as the theatrical feature Chamber of Horrors in 1966 (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1961-70 ; F6.0733). Roger Corman also used the basic story in Bucket of Blood in 1959. Modern sources state that a large photographic blow-up of a scene featuring Lionel Atwill and Fay Wray was used as a theatrical backdrop in The Florentine Dagger directed by Robert Florey in 1935. According to modern sources, the enormous heat generated by the lights needed for the two-color process made the wax figures melt, so in most scenes, the figures were played by actors. More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Film Daily
18 Feb 33
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
23 Dec 32
p. 3.
International Photographer
1 Jun 33
p. 13.
Motion Picture Herald
7 Jan 33
p. 23.
New York Times
18 Feb 33
p. 13.
Variety
21 Feb 33
p. 14.
DETAILS
Alternate Title:
Wax Museum
Release Date:
18 February 1933
Premiere Information:
New York opening: week of 16 February 1933
Production Date:
began week of 8 October 1932
Copyright Claimant:
Warner Bros. Pictures, Inc.
Copyright Date:
3 February 1933
Copyright Number:
LP3623
Physical Properties:
Sound
Color
Technicolor
Duration(in mins):
72 or 75
Country:
United States
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

In London in 1921, Mr. Igor's critically successful wax museum is burned down by his partner for the insurance money. Igor is trapped in the flames and all his work is destroyed. Twelve years later in New York, Igor watches from his window while the body of Joan Gale is taken to the morgue. Her rich young boyfriend, George Winton, is arrested for her murder, but when an autopsy is ordered, the police find the body has been stolen. Wisecracking reporter Florence Dempsey decides she will prove Winton's innocence. She accompanies her roommate Charlotte Duncan to Igor's new wax museum to visit Charlotte's fiancé Ralph Burton, Igor's assistant. There, Florence is struck by the resemblance between a wax statue of Joan of Arc and the dead Joan Gale. When Winton is released from prison on bail, he and Florence follow Igor's drug addict assistant, Sparrow, hoping to find out the truth about the museum. Meanwhile, Igor has trapped Charlotte in the museum. He tells her that because his hands were damaged in the fire, preventing him from sculpting, he has been killing people who resemble his burned statues, and once they are dipped in wax, he displays them. He plans to immortalize Charlotte as Marie Antoinette. She screams in response, and hearing her cries, Ralph breaks into the museum. He struggles with Igor, who falls into a vat of wax and dies. Florence gets her story and a surprise proposal from Jim, her ... +


In London in 1921, Mr. Igor's critically successful wax museum is burned down by his partner for the insurance money. Igor is trapped in the flames and all his work is destroyed. Twelve years later in New York, Igor watches from his window while the body of Joan Gale is taken to the morgue. Her rich young boyfriend, George Winton, is arrested for her murder, but when an autopsy is ordered, the police find the body has been stolen. Wisecracking reporter Florence Dempsey decides she will prove Winton's innocence. She accompanies her roommate Charlotte Duncan to Igor's new wax museum to visit Charlotte's fiancé Ralph Burton, Igor's assistant. There, Florence is struck by the resemblance between a wax statue of Joan of Arc and the dead Joan Gale. When Winton is released from prison on bail, he and Florence follow Igor's drug addict assistant, Sparrow, hoping to find out the truth about the museum. Meanwhile, Igor has trapped Charlotte in the museum. He tells her that because his hands were damaged in the fire, preventing him from sculpting, he has been killing people who resemble his burned statues, and once they are dipped in wax, he displays them. He plans to immortalize Charlotte as Marie Antoinette. She screams in response, and hearing her cries, Ralph breaks into the museum. He struggles with Igor, who falls into a vat of wax and dies. Florence gets her story and a surprise proposal from Jim, her editor. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.