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Monday, February 29, 2016

Phantom Of The Rue Morgue (1954)

Starring Karl Malden, Claude Dauphin, Patricia Medina, Steve Forrest, Allyn McLerie
Directed by Roy Del Ruth
(actor & director credits courtesy

In 19th century Paris, a police inspector arrests a college professor for the brutal slayings of several women, but the professor insists the true culprit had to have been an animal.

One of several adaptations of Edgar Allan Poe's Murders In The Rue Morgue, the picture is probably less faithful to Poe's story than most, turning his protagonist Dupin into an accused murderer, and casting Malden as the true villain of the piece in the only horror role the actor ever had, to the best of my knowledge.  The script has some clever touches, bestowing on each of the victims a bracelet of jingling bells, and having a real-life acrobat demonstrate the murderer's elusive escape along the Paris rooftops, but requires some real leaps of faith and logic at key moments.  The most effective character in the film is the giant ape that figures in the climax- although it must have been played by an actor in a gorilla suit, its movements are frightening and realistic, and with the picture lensed in 3-D, was probably justifiably startling to audiences of the time.

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