Waxworks (1923)

Article #143 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing date: 8-6-2001
Posting date: 12-20-2001

A wax museum hires a writer to write stories about three of their new wax figures; Harun al Raschid, Ivan the Terrible, and Jack the Ripper.

There’s an impressive cast here; Werner Krauss, Conrad Veidt, and Emil Jannings play the three wax personages, while director-to-be William Dieterle plays the writer, as well as several characters in the three stories. I think the movie is terribly uneven; the first story about Harun al Raschid is an amusing enough fantasy, and is IMHO the best part of the movie. The second part is about Ivan the Terrible, and though it includes some striking sequences (especially one involving an hourglass), I’ve never been able to follow the storyline, if there is one. And for those who are primarily interested in the Jack the Ripper sequence, be forewarened; the running time is almost up by the time they reach this sequence, and no mistake has been made on the running time. This is my way of saying that the last sequence seems nothing more than a joke with which to end the movie, and not a particularly satisfying one.

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