Phantom of the Rue Morgue (1954)

Article #1396 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 1-9-2005
Posting Date: 6-8-2005
Directed by Roy Del Ruth
Featuring Karl Malden, Claude Dauphin, Patricia Medina

A student is the prime suspect in a series of brutal murders that take place in apartments in the Rue Morgue in Paris.

I didn’t go into this adaptation of the classic Poe story with high expectations; the title made me suspect that it was going to be one of those adaptations where the original story was going to be thrown out in its entirety. Actually, they use quite a bit of the original Poe story (though once again the character of Dupin has been highly compromised), and I feel they do a better job of working it into the story than the 1932 version with Bela Lugosi does. Despite certain similarities, I don’t see this as a remake of the earlier movie; if anything, I see it as an attempt to repeat the success of last year’s HOUSE OF WAX. Like that movie, this one is in color and was shot in 3D, and I’m willing to bet that the story was chosen because of its period Parisian setting, so they could borrow that as well (I guess they really wanted more Can-Can dancing). There’s a bit too much screaming in this one, but I like Karl Malden’s performance as Marais, and I always like to see Charles Gemora in action; apparently, the latter suffered a heart attack during the filming of this one and was replaced by a stunt double in certain scenes. This is also one of the bloodiest Hollywood movies I’ve seen up to this point of time; it even approaches the level that would be common in the Hammer films to come in a few years.

One question: Do the French really have this dance where the male partners violently throw their female partners to the floor? I’ve seen it pop up a couple of times already. Sometimes I wonder…


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