Lionel Atwill stars as brilliant sculpture Ivan Igor. Igor has a wax museum in London that is sadly unprofitable. Igor’s partner Joe Worth (Edwin Maxwell) decides to burn the place to the ground for the insurance and when Igor tries to stop him, Worth knocks him out and leaves him to die in the flames.
12 years later in New York city Igor shows up with a new wax museum. He survived the fire but is now confined to a wheel chair and his hands were destroyed. As a result he no longer sculpts but has “assistants” such as the shady Professor Darcy (Arthur Edmund Carewe) and the silent Hugo (Matthew Betz).
Igor also has young Ralph (Allen Vincent) working for him. Ralph’s fiance Charlotte Duncan (Fay Wray) bears a striking resemblance to Igor’s old Marie Antoinette statue. Charlotte’s roommate is Florence Dempsey (Glenda Farrell), a reporter looking for a story. Florence was looking into the suicide of Joan Gale (Monica Bannister) whose body has been stolen from the morgue by a mysterious looking figure.
Florence happens to notice that Igor’s Joan of Arc looks an awful lot like Joan Gale. Meanwhile Professor Darcy is also working for Worth and the mysterious figure was seen by Florence at one of Worth’s warehouses.
Director Michael Curtiz would later gone on and direct the classic Casablanca but before he did he made several great precode horror movies for Warner. This was one of them – the other was Doctor X with most of the same cast. Lionel Atwill is awesome as the villain. The movie was remade in 1953 with Vincent Price in Atwill’s role. It’s not too bad as remakes go. My original post here.