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Murders in the Rue Morgue (1932)

A mad scientist seeks to mingle human blood with that of an ape, and resorts to kidnapping women for his experiments.


Robert Florey


Edgar Allan Poe (story), Robert Florey (adaptation) | 3 more credits »
1 win. See more awards »


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Complete credited cast:
Bela Lugosi ... Dr. Mirakle
Sidney Fox ... Mlle. Camille L'Espanaye
Leon Ames ... Pierre Dupin (as Leon Waycoff)
Bert Roach ... Paul
Betty Ross Clarke ... Mme. L'Espanaye
Brandon Hurst ... Prefect of Police
D'Arcy Corrigan ... Morgue Keeper
Noble Johnson ... Janos The Black One
Arlene Francis ... Woman of the Streets


In 19th Century Paris, the maniacal Dr. Mirakle abducts young women and injects them with ape blood in an attempt to prove ape-human kinship. He constantly meets failure as the abducted women die. Medical student Pierre Dupin discovers what Mirakle is doing too late to prevent the abduction of his girlfriend Camille. Now he desperately tries to enlist the help of the police to get her back. Written by Gary Jackson <garyjack5@cogeco.ca>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Edgar Allan Poe's dramatic story of the horrors of Paris See more »


Passed | See all certifications »





English | Danish | German

Release Date:

21 February 1932 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Murders in the Rue Morgue See more »


Box Office


$190,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Universal Pictures See more »
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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Noiseless Recording Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


The character of Pierre Dupin, played by Leon Ames, reappeared in another Poe story done by Universal, "Mystery of Marie Roget" (1942) , this time with Patric Knowles in the role (now called Paul Dupin). See more »


During the sequence in which the gorilla carries the girl across the rooftops, a few of the shots make it very clear that he's holding a stiff-necked female mannequin and not a real person. See more »


Dr. Mirakle: [Responding to an audience member who has accused him of heresy] Heresy? Do they still burn men for heresy? Then burn me monsieur, light the fire! Do you think your little candle will outshine the flame of truth?
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Crazy Credits

At the end of the film, the cast list is shown again with the heading, "A GOOD CAST IS WORTH REPEATING...." See more »


Featured in 100 Years of Horror: Bela Lugosi (1996) See more »


Swan Lake Overture
Written by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky
Played during the opening credits
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

An appreciated but underrated Universal and Lugosi short triumph
6 March 2010 | by secondtakeSee all my reviews

Murders in the Rue Morgue (1932)

King Kong was released by RKO in 1933, a story of an ape captured by white hairless apes and brought to a foreign land. And this is exactly the beginning of the 1932 Rue Morgue, as Bela Lugosi, playing Dr. Mirakle, appears as flamboyant sideshow impresario with an ape in a cage. His trick (if it is one) is knowing how to translate ape talk to English (or French, maybe, since we are in Paris). His point is that the apes are us, that evolution is true. "Can you understand what he says? Or have you forgotten?" Not the most honorable spokesman for science, no doubt, but he is a mad scientist, and is setting out to create some kind of unexplained human/ape hybrid.

The movie is filled with dramatic innovations, and a very high technical standard (for Universal, a minor studio player until this time). And the transfer to DVD is terrific. Ten minutes into the film, Lugosi breaks the fourth wall and looks into the camera to challenge the viewer to accept evolution and its consequences.. (The Scopes trial was 1925, so this is a hot topic.) Watch for the camera attached to the swing about 32 minutes in. There are echoes of Frankenstein (1931) with the madman and his doltish assistant, as well as the angry mobs. And there is Lugosi himself, with all the aura carrying over from his breakthrough in Dracula (also 1931).

The cinematography by Karl Freund is totally amazing. There are not astonishing tricks, just consistent, brilliant framing and lighting, scene after scene. (If only he had shot Dracula--oh, he did! Yes...check that out, too.) 1920s German Expressionist films find a true expression here (not Caligari, for sure, but a high water mark for American movies of the time). Simple things like shadows and angles, of course, but also moving camera in subtle ways (the camera falling slightly when approaching someone in a window, for example). Completely first rate.

It's common in these movies to have eccentric villains, grotesque monsters, and Gothic settings with wild special effects. And to have the common person as a balance to all this madness. These apply a little comic relief but in a silly way from our perspective. (The "common" person at the time in other movies was far more vivid and timeless, like Crawford or Cagney, but that would overwhelm the villains as well as the budget). In this case, one of the common folk is a resourceful doctor, and this search for the bad guy takes on a larger role than in the other monster movies.

The movie isn't a sparkling masterpiece. The acting throughout (even by Lugosi, really) isn't always spot on, but it works overall, and is consistent. There is a comic moment near the end (when we are most anxious for action) where the character have an argument in different languages, and it's so perky I'm assuming they felt they couldn't take it out, but it doesn't advance the plot. It does deal with Logosi's characteristic odd accent. And for fun, there is an anachronism, half an hour in, when a bicycle rides through the little town, decades before they were made like that.

It won't matter if you don't believe in evolution. The movie plays loose with the concept, and Dr. Mirakle says at one point, with his beady eyes: "Do you think your little candle can outshine the truth?"

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