Mystery of Marie Roget (1942)

Article 2417 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 11-8-2007
Posting Date: 3-25-2008
Directed by Phil Rosen
Featuring Patric Knowles, Maria Montez, Maria Ouspenskaya

When the body of a woman with a mutilated face is found, the victim is believed to be a missing actress. Then the actress shows up. Then she disappears again, and another body is found; this time it is really hers. Dupin investigates with the help of the local prefect.

If there is any Poe story that I would expect to undergo major revision before it was turned into a motion picture, this would be the one; it isn’t so much a story as speculation on the solution of a real-life murder case. This one has a story, though it’s not a particularly good one, but the cast is interesting, though it’s really hard to buy that Maria Montez (with a French accent) is the granddaughter of Maria Ouspenskaya (with a Maria Ouspenskaya accent). The latter is a suspect largely because she keeps a pet leopard (but, then, who doesn’t?), and, for that matter, the daughter is also a suspect (that is, until she becomes a victim). The horror elements are the fact that it comes from a Poe story, the presence of the leopard, and the gruesomeness of the murders. For me, most of the enjoyment of the movie is just watching Maria Ouspenskaya act, even in a strange-looking wig. Keep your eyes open for Charles Middleton as a curator of a zoo that gets a new addition to its menagerie.



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