This week, Andrew and I discussed the middling Edgar Allan Poe/Bela Lugosi/Killer Ape Movie “Murders in the Rue Morgue” (1932, Universal). Andrew has developed a theory about horror movies from the 1930’s.
Bela Lugosi speaks Hungarian to the Monkey, in case you were wondering.
Matt’s essay on Murders in the Rue Morgue, available at goldenagehorror.com
Noble Johnson, a bit player in this film, had a very interesting and exciting life.
A stub of an article called “Murders in the Rue Morgue: Edgar Allan Poe’s Evolutionary Reverie”
“The Murders in the Rue Morgue” introduces the detective in a moment of historical crisis, involving current controversies about Pierre-Simon Laplace’s nebular hypothesis and the claim that the universe had come into existence by chance. C. Auguste Dupin offers narratives modeled on those of the historical disciplines to create order in a universe bereft of religious significance. In the story, the presence of the Ourang-Outang not only suggests, from one perspective, the purely arbitrary nature of the murders, it also uncannily anticipates theories of evolution positing the progressive development of organic life that were to appear in Vestiges of the Natural History of Creation (1844) and in Origin of Species (1859). In this way detective fiction acts not merely to perpetuate reigning orthodoxies but to consolidate over time a paradigm shift within the consciousness of its readers.
Tune in next week, we’ll be discussing my favorite of the Lugosi/Karloff pictures, The Black Cat.