The story’s been done a few million times but this is one of the better presentations. Lionel Atwill plays the owner of a wax museum and Glenda Farrell is the energetic reporter determined to get the scoop on why some of the figures are too realistic.
London:1921: Ivan Igor (Lionel Atwill) owns a wax museum on a side street. It’s not successful. One night a critic drops in and is so impressed with the figures he says he’ll get them the attention of the Royal Academy. He’s off to Egypt for now but good things will happen when he returns.
Igor’s partner Joe Worth comes in and has a great idea. They’re out of money so why not burn the place down? The insurance will get them ten thousand pounds. Igor doesn’t want his “children” harmed. Worth starts a fire anyway. The two brawl while Igor’s pride and joy, Marie Antoinette, burns. Igor is knocked out. Worth runs out and locks the door. Igor comes to and watches all his work melt.
New York:1933:- It’s New Year’s Eve. Actress Joan Gale committed suicide a couple days before. Now in spite of the crowds on the street there’s nothing happening. Reporter Florence Dempsey (Glenda Farrell) is told by her editor to dig up a story or she’s fired.
She goes to the police station and gets a tip that Joan’s boyfriend, society playboy George Winton, is being held in jail on suspicion of murdering Joan. Florence talks to him and they become pals. An autopsy is ordered on Joan’s body. Too bad it’s missing. Winton is released.
Igor is in the city and about to open another wax museum. He has to have others do the sculpting for him. He is in a wheelchair and his hands are claws. He’s tough on his employees, especially Ralph Burton. He says he should be more like Professor Darcy. His latest work is Joan of Arc.
Florence comes in and notices a strong resemblance between Joan of Arc and Joan Gale. She also finds a tag which may be from the morgue. Florence’s roommate is Charlotte Duncan (Fay Wray). She’s Ralph’s girlfriend. The two are standing outside the museum when Igor can’t take his eyes off her. She reminds him of Marie Antoinette.
Worth is also in New York. He’s a bootlegger. Florence gets Winton to drive her around. They follow Darcy back to Worth’s warehouse. She tells the cops that Joan’s body is in the basement and there’s some horrible looking guy creeping around. Of course when the cops investigate the box Joan is supposed to be in all they find is booze.
They arrest Darcy who is a junkie. The rest of the movie moves nicely with Farrell wise cracking her way through it. There’s a nice finish to it all and it’s definitely worth seeing.
Right after this movie Fay Wray became immortal as Ann Darrow in “King Kong.”