Whatever happened to Fay Wray? Well, she died in 2004. However, before she starred in the horror classic King Kong, she appeared earlier that year with Lionel Atwill in both Mystery of the Wax Museum and The Vampire Bat. [She was one busy lady!] This time out she plays Charlotte Duncan who becomes the obsession of a gifted wax sculptor whose was horribly disfigured in a fire. Her trademark scream is already present and she does a fine job with the role.
Wray's co-stars, Lionel Atwill [Son of Frankenstein] and Glenda Farrell also help to make this one a top notch thriller. Atwill plays the sculptor, Ivan Igor [what a stupid name!], and gives a memorable performance on par with his Inspector Krogh in Son of Frankenstein. Vincent Price would fill his shoes in the excellent remake House of Wax (1953) and both actors bring something different to the table. Atwill plays it serious and obsessive. Price plays it melodramatic and creepy. I like them both equally. Farrell is hilarious as cracker jack reporter Florence Dempsey. Her over the top acting style is well suited for the role and she brings the humor in the midst of the horror.
Mystery of the Wax Museum was filmed with a unique two color process that works rather well. I'm sure audiences were thrilled to see it in 1933. Kudos must be given to cinematographer Ray Rennahan for the visual feast he gives the audience. It really is a lovely film to look at. Furthermore, director Michael Curtiz [Casablanca, White Christmas] keeps the action moving at a nice pace and composes each scene with great skill and careful attention to detail.
While I am a huge fan of House of Wax, I love this one almost as much as the remake. It is classic 1930's horror and deserves to be seen by a wider audience. As a side note skip the atrocious House of Wax that was remade in 2005 and "stars" Paris Hilton. It's one big pile of poo and should be avoided like a plague of locusts.
For more info check out the film's entry in IMDB.