TCM Summer Under the Stars: Fay Wray

What a day for classic horror on Turner Classic Movies!  All day long on August 4, it’s “Summer Under the Stars” featuring the original scream queen, Fay Wray.  Included in the lineup are six must-see films: Doctor X (1932), Black Moon (1934), The Clairvoyant (1935), The Mystery of the Wax Museum (1933), King Kong (1933) and The Most Dangerous Game (1932).

Below, please enjoy mini-reviews for three of them.  I’ve never seen Black Moon, so my DVR will be running at 12:15 PM (CT), and I’ll write about it later.  King Kong and The Most Dangerous Game deserve feature-length reviews at some time in the near future.

Doctor X (1932)

Written by Robert Tasker & Earl Baldwin
Directed by Michael Curtiz
Starring Lionel Atwill, Fay Wray
US Release Aug. 27, 1932
RT 76 min.
Home Video Warner Home Video
Classic Horrors rating = 7 (out of 10)

doctor-x-poster

Doctor X is based on the play, “The Terror” by Howard W. Comstock and Allen C. Miller and filmed in two-color Technicolor. Reporter Lee Taylor (Lee Tracy) investigates the “Moon Killer Murders” at the Long Island beach-side estate of Doctor Xavier (Lionel Atwill), where the police have given the doctor 48 hours to apprehend the killer in his own unorthodox way. While he’s there, Taylor falls in love with Xavier’s daughter, Joan (Fay Wray).

This one really surprised me; I enjoyed it a lot. It reminded me a little of Agatha Christie, but was uniquely entertaining. Potentially annoying Lee Tracy was actually funny. It was a good little mystery that I didn’t figure out ahead of time.

Mystery of the Wax Museum (1933)

Written by Don Mullaly & Carl Erickson
Directed by Michael Curtiz
Starring Lionel Atwill, Fay Wray, Glenda Farrell
US Release Feb. 18, 1933
RT 77 min.
Home Video Warner Bros.
Classic Horrors rating = 7 (out of 10)

936full-the-mystery-of-the-wax-museum-poster

Ivan Igor (Lionel Atwill) relocates to New York City after a fire destroys his wax museum in London. A spunky reporter, Florence Dempsey (Glenda Farrell), investigates when a series of disappearances seems tied to Igor and the wax museum.

More mystery than horror, it nonetheless has a shocking moment during its exciting conclusion. Images I’ve seen over the years emphasize those elements rather than those from the majority of the movie. Farrell is delightful, a real stand-out, and she is from my home town of Enid, Oklahoma!

The Clairvoyant (aka The Evil Mind) 1935

Written by Charles Bennett & Bryan Edgar Wallace
Directed by Maurice Elvey
Starring Claud Rains, Fay Wray
US Release July 15, 1935
RT 81 min.
Home Video Synergy Ent.
Classic Horrors rating = 7 (out of 10)

The-Clairvoyant-images-80f72ac3-ae0c-4884-9d9b-1c5b80c559e

Faux mind-reader Maximus (Claude Rains) discovers he can really see the future whenever love Christine (Jane Baxter) is in close proximity. This, of course, doesn’t sit well with his wife, Rene (Fay Wray). Predicting the future is a blessing and a curse, ultimately putting him on trial for causing the accidents he foresaw.

It’s an interesting movie with a lot packed into it, but not really horror at all. I liked the performances and direction by Maurice Elvey. Overall, I think it has more layers and depth than most mystery-thrillers of the time. At the very least, it’s more original.

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