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Mystery Of The Wax Museum Blu-ray Review

Wax

“Mystery Of The Wax Museum” is another winner from Michael Curtiz. 

1933’s “Mystery Of The wax Museum” begins in London in the year 1921. The story focuses on Ivan igor- a brilliant sculptor who runs a wax museum. Alas, the business is not doing well and Ivan’s business partner Joe wants to burn the place down to make some money back as he has fire insurance. Ivan is horrified by the idea, but Joe winds up burning the place down and leaving Ivan for dead.

The story jumps ahead to the year 1933 in NY where a lot is happening. Bodies have gone missing, a woman (Joan) may have potentially been murdered, a new wax museum is opening by Ivan (who survived), Joe is in town operating another business, a reporter (Florence) looks into the death of Joan, Igor is mesmerized by Charlotte (Florence’s roomie and the love interest of a wax museum employee), a mysterious burnt face man, etc. How do all of these elements play together? That would be telling. 

Director Michael Curtiz has made many of the greatest films in cinema history (such as “Casablanca” and “The Adventures Of Robin Hood”), but, more than that, he’s made a wide variety of films in different genres. The pre-code “Mystery Of The Wax Museum” is but another multi-genre classic that is part horror, part mystery, and part thriller that was famously later remade as “The House Of Wax.” 

What makes ‘Wax’ so memorable? It’s a very atmospheric and busy movie that packs a lot in for the mere 78 minute runtime. The tight script by Don Mullaly and Carl Erickson gets right down to business and injects a lot of moving pieces that keep everything flowing in a fast-paced manner. The dialogue itself is also very snappy and doesn’t contain an ounce of filler. 

From a production standpoint, this is a very visual film that boasts some massive sets, great production design (especially the wax museums), and a unique color two-tone Technicolor color scheme that gives the movie a very one-of-a-kind style.

Fay Wray may be the biggest name on the cast list, but her part is minimal. It is Glenda Farrell who steals the show as the dedicated fast-talking reporter Florence. In many ways it’s her movies as the story goes through her character’s actions. While he should have had a bit more screentime (not to mention a confrontation with Joe in the end), Lionel Atwill is deliciously creepy as Ivan.

Video/Audio:

Presentation: 1.37:1 1080p. How does it look? The two-color technicolor film has been given an astonishingly beautiful print.

Audio Track: 2.0 DTS-HD MA. How does it sound? A nice crisp Mono track. 

Extras:
* “Remembering Fay Wray”- An interview with Fay’s daughter Victoria Riskin about Fay Wray and her career.
* A before and after restoration comparison with comments by Scott MacQueen.
* 2 commentary tracks. One highly informative track by author/film historian Alan K. Rode and the other by Scott MacQueen (head of preservation for the UCLA Film and Television Archive) who also provides a wealth of Hollywood history. 

 

May 26, 2020 - Posted by | Blu-Ray review | , , , , ,

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