Murder in the Museum (1934) - Rotten Tomatoes

Murder in the Museum (1934)

Murder in the Museum





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The distinguished Henry B. Walthall, a major star of the early silent screen, headlined this cheap whodunit that fully capitalized on his remaining box-office pull in the hinterlands. Walthall plays Professor Mysto, a carnival magician warned by his boss, Carr (Lynton Brent), that a group of reformers headed by the police commissioner (Joseph W. Girard) and a teetotalist councilman (Sam Flint) are after him. When the latter is murdered, both Mysto, Carr, and a concessionaire (John Elliot) are among the suspects, the last mentioned admitting ownership of a .45-calibre gun. The concessionaire, however, is released when it becomes clear that the lethal bullet came from a .38-calibre weapon. Newspaperman Jerry Ross (John Harron), who is in love with the commissioner's pretty daughter (Phyllis Barrington), attempts to scoop the competition by unmasking the killer, but is knocked unconscious by a hooded figure. Carr, who is guilty of selling bootleg liquor in his establishment, manages to flee the law but is eventually killed by a jealous employee. None of this leads Jerry closer to the killer, who, it later turns out, has invented a device that equips a .45-calibre gun to fire .38-calibre bullets. In the end, however, the killer is unmasked and Jerry proposes to the police commissioner's daughter.more
Rating: Unrated
Genre: Drama, Mystery & Suspense, Classics
Directed By:
In Theaters:
On DVD: Mar 15, 2005

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Henry B. Walthall
as Professor Mysto, Sta...
John Harron
as Jerry Ross, Reporter
Phyllis Barrington
as Lois, Brandon's Niec...
John Elliott
as Detective Chief Snel...
Donald Kerr
as Museum Barker
Joseph W. Girard
as Police Commissioner ...
Symona Boniface
as Fortune Teller
Sam Flint
as Councilman Newgate
Steve Clemente
as Knife Thrower
Albert Knight
as King Kiku
Lynton Brent
as Museum Manager
Al Hill
as Detective
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Critic Reviews for Murder in the Museum

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Audience Reviews for Murder in the Museum

When a city councilman is murdered while on a fact-finding mission to a local "museum of oddities", the police commisioner (Girard) emerges as the most likely suspect. However, crimebeat reporter Jerry Ross (Herron) sets out to prove his innocence in order to impress tthe commisioners niece (Barrington), a beautiful young lady he's taken an interest in.

"Murder at the Museum" is a nicely executed who-dunnit with an unusual and unpredictable setting of a Skid Row freak show. Everyone in the establishment has a dark history with secrets, but which of the them had enough darkness in their background to murder the holier-than-thou crusading councilman? And how was the crime committed?

In addition to its convincingly drawn seedy sideshow setting, the film is blessed with a fast-moving plot, well-crafted dialogue and a cast of talented actors. The characters are all engaging and interesting and the usual annoying traits of the stock character of the wise-cracking reporter who outsmarts the police are not quite as nerve-grating as they often are, both due to the writing and to the inherent charm of actor John Harron.

There is one odd bit in the film that made me curious about where Monogram Pictures might have recieved funding for the film. Smoking is a part of every day life, so characters smoking in a film do not cause me to throw hysterical fits the way it does some people, but there's a scene in the film that feels like it should be in a cigarette commercial. It is so strange and so out of place that I can't help but wonder if it's there at the demands of an investor. (I can't really say more about the scene without giving away part of the movie, but if you see the film you'll know exactly what I'm referring to.)

As far as I've been able to determine, "Murder at the Museum" is only available on DVD from Alpha Video, and the print they used had some unfortunate damage to it... like the key couple of seconds missing where a masked killer is throttling the life out of Jerry Ross. It's not unusual for old films from long-gone studios to be in bad shape, but it's something I feel obligated to point out when it disrupts the flow of the story.

Nonetheless, the Alpha Video edition appears to be the only one available, and the $8 price tag makes up for the damaged print. Fans of mystery movies from the early days of film won't regret adding it to their collections.

You can read more about the film and order it from by clicking here.

Murder in the Museum
Starring: John Harron, Henry B. Walthall, Phyllis Barrington, Donald Kerr, Steve Clemente and Joseph W. Girad
Director: Melville Shyer

Steve Miller

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