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Triple Feature!

Doctor X  /  Mystery of the Wax Museum  /  The Kennel Murder Case

Mystery of the Wax Museum
January 13, 2018 - 7:30 pm
Alan K. Rode will sign copies of Michael Curtiz: A Life in Film beginning at 6:30 p.m.

Doctor X  (1932)

Perhaps the most gruesome of the early sound horror movies was also the first of its genre filmed in two-strip Technicolor (and also in black and white).  A series of brutal murders involving cannibalism occur under a full moon near Dr. Xavier’s (Lionel Atwill) laboratory, whose residents include his daughter (Fay Wray) and a quartet of weird scientists.  Will reporter Lee Taylor (Lee Tracy, naturally) unmask the Moon killer in time?  Scripted by ex-con Robert Tasker and Earl Baldwin with exquisite production design by Anton Grot. 

35mm, Technicolor, 76 min.  Production/Distribution: First National Pictures, Inc.  Director: Michael Curtiz.  Screenwriter: Robert Tasker, Earl Baldwin.  Based on the play The Terror by Howard W. Comstock and Allen C. Miller.  Cinematographer: Ray Rennahan, Richard Towers.  Editor: George Amy.  Cast: Lionel Atwill, Fay Wray, Lee Tracy, Preston Foster, John Wray.

Mystery of the Wax Museum  (1933)

This legendary horror classic was the last and best of Hollywood’s two-strip Technicolor features.  A fire set by a double-crossing partner destroys sculptor Ivan Igor’s (Lionel Atwill) London museum with its dazzling array of historical wax figures.  A crippled Igor opens a new museum in New York City as people and corpses suddenly begin to disappear.  Co-starring Fay Wray (who bears an uncomfortable resemblance to Marie Antoinette) and the Warner Bros. wisenheimer duo of Glenda Farrell and Frank McHugh.  Curtiz’s innovative camera work is accentuated by Anton Grot’s ethereal production design.  The film was remade as House of Wax (1953).

35mm, Technicolor, 77 min.  Production/Distribution: Warner Bros. Pictures, Inc., The Vitaphone Corp.  Director: Michael Curtiz.  Screenwriter: Don Mullaly, Carl Erickson.  Cinematographer: Ray Rennahan.  Editor: George Amy.  Cast: Lionel Atwill, Fay Wray, Glenda Farrell, Frank McHugh, Allen Vincent.

The Kennel Murder Case  (1933)

Curtiz’s supple direction and a deft turn by William Powell makes for a masterpiece of a murder mystery that is the best screen adaptation of S.S. Van Dine’s famed sleuth Philo Vance.  A society swell (Robert Barrat) involved with the Long Island Kennel Club turns up dead the next morning in his locked bedroom.  Was it suicide or murder?  There is no shortage of suspects (Mary Astor, Ralph Morgan, Frank Conroy, Paul Cavanagh and Jack La Rue) in this complex yarn that only Philo Vance (Powell) can unravel despite the dubious assistance of Detective Heath (Eugene Pallette) and District Attorney Markham (Robert McWade).

35mm, b/w, 73 min.  Production: Warner Bros. Pictures, Inc.  Distribution: Warner Bros. Pictures, Inc., The Vitaphone Corp.  Director: Michael Curtiz. Screenplay: Robert N. Lee, Peter Milne.  Based on The Kennel Murder Case by S.S. Van Dine.  Cinematographer: William Rees.  Editor: Harold McLernon.  Cast: William Powell, Mary Astor, Eugene Pallette, Ralph Morgan, Robert McWade.