Hi lads and ladies, it’s your friend Burl! I thought I’d review yet another movie featuring a murderous ape, because I really am pretty fond of those sorts of pictures! Ha ha, hope you’re not tired of them!
So listen, who’s the last person you’d expect to be playing the mad scientist role in a killer ape movie from the 1950s? Probably Marlon Brando! Well, it’s not him in Phantom of the Rue Morgue, but it is the next least likely candidate, Karl Malden! Karl plays a combination zoologist/psychiatrist, which is a professional mash-up we don’t see enough of these days! He’s also a die-hard romantic, deeply in love with his young colleague’s fiancée! And he has access to a killer ape! Ach, that’s a recipe for trouble!
There’s a series of brutal ape murders up and down the Rue Morgue, and much of the picture deals with Police Inspector Bonnard’s confusion at who could possibly be responsible! Neighbors can hear crazy jabbering in what they take to be a foreign tongue, and a man in a nightcap is violently defenestrated, but nobody can catch the maniacal killer! Suspicion soon falls upon the young scientist Paul Dupin, but as much as he protests his innocence, the murders continue and the evidence piles upon him like horse blankets!
Well, eventually things sort themselves out, with the proper human varmints getting their comeuppance, and, as always, the poor ape taking a tumble! I always feel a bit sad for these unlucky simians! Ever since King Kong, or even before that actually, they’ve been handed a pretty raw deal!
Phantom of the Rue Morgue, which of course is a descendant of Edgar Allen Poe’s famous killer ape story, has also been served up a raw deal over the years if you ask ol’ Burl! You can’t find a single positive review of this lush-looking caper, and for my money it’s actually a pretty decent film! There are some fine scenes involving acrobats and other carnival folk, which, in combination with the Parisian setting, give it the feel of a lost chapter out of Children of Paradise! The movie looks great, and the sets are manifique! I think it must have been shot in 3D, like Gorilla At Large, because an awful lot of things get tossed towards the camera!
For all its virtues and for the fact that every single male character (and some of the female ones, ha ha!) has a French-style pencil moustache, I give Phantom of the Rue Morgue two and a half ape-shaped holes in the skylight!