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House of Wax

Editorial review of  House of Wax (1953) starring Vincent Price, courtesy of Amazon.com

House of Wax brought Vincent Price into the horror genre, where he fit as snugly as a scalpel in a mad scientist’s hand. A remake of the 1933 film Mystery of the Wax Museum, this entertaining Gothic shocker casts Price as a sculptor of wax figures; his unwilling victims–er, “models”–lend their bodies to his lifelike depictions of Marie Antoinette and Joan of Arc.The film was one of the top 10 moneymakers of its year, thanks in part to the 3-D gimmick, which explains why so many things are aimed at the camera (why else would the paddleball man be there?). Footnote to history: director Andre De Toth was blind in one eye, and thus could not see in three dimensions.

Quotes from  House of Wax

House of Wax (1953) starring Vincent PriceProf. Henry Jarrod: I’m afraid that the visit of such a distinguished critic may cause my children to become conceited. To you they are wax, but to me their creator, they live and breathe.


Prof. Henry Jarrod: Here we have two great lovers from the past. Cleopatra Queen Of Egypt and Marc Antony, their last meeting. You’ll recall that Antony believing Cleopatra to be dead killed himself with his own sword. When Cleopatra discovered what had happened, she quickly followed her lover.


Prof. Henry Jarrod: Here’s President Lincoln and his assassin John Wilkes Booth. One of my few concessions to the macabre.


Prof. Henry Jarrod: Here we have Joan Of Arc. A favorite subject of mine.


Prof. Henry Jarrod: People say they can see my Marie Antoinette breath, that her breast rises and falls, look at her eyes they follow you where ever you go.
Bruce Allison: You know her eyes do follow you.
Prof. Henry Jarrod: They’re made of glass mores the pity, the exact size and color of the originals, they’re inserted from inside by way of the hollow neck before the head is attached to the body
[looking at the figure of Marie Antoinette]
Prof. Henry Jarrod: forgive me my dear for discussing your intimate secrets, forgive me gentlemen I lose myself at times.
Sidney Wallace: Professor if people knew what you had inside these walls you couldn’t accommodate the crowds, what you need here is exploitation more advertising.
Bruce Allison: That’s what I’ve been telling him.
Prof. Henry Jarrod: I’m afraid my partner wouldn’t agree, he’s not happy here he wants to invest in something else, Mr. Wallace would you care to become a partner in this venture would you buy him out?
Sidney Wallace: I just might take you up on that if my lawyers approve and the price is right.
Prof. Henry Jarrod: With your help I could do wonders and I’d make any sacrifice.
Sidney Wallace: Unfortunately I’m leaving for Egypt I’m financing some excavations there, however I’ll be back in three months and I’ll be glad to discuss it then.


Cathy Gray: [Sue is helping Cathy get ready] Pull it tighter Sue, pull it tighter, I want a waist like Anna Held.
Sue Allen: If I pull it any tighter you’re not going to be able to breathe.
Cathy Gray: Oh that’s alright, I don’t need much breath anyway, as my late friend Matty used to say, if a girl don’t watch her figure the men won’t.
Sue Allen: Matty? Wasn’t that the man you were going to marry?
Cathy Gray: Yes but he hung himself instead.
[giggling]
Cathy Gray: Oh Matty was such a card.
Sue Allen: Well where’s your new friend going to take you tonight?
Cathy Gray: To the Hauffman House for dinner, then to Tony Pastors for the vaudeville show.
Sue Allen: That sounds like fun.
Cathy Gray: Oh yeah he’s a free spender alright, a little bit older than I like them, but awfully distinguished looking, I’m moving up
[stops and breathes in slowly]
Cathy Gray: , I’m moving up honey, no girl ever hits the jackpot till after she passes 14th street.


Prof. Henry Jarrod: Everything I ever loved has been taken away from me , but not you, my Marie Antoinette for I will give you eternal life.


Sgt. Jim Shane: [looking at the wax figure of Joan Of Arc who resembles Cathy Gray] That’s a copy of her face alright , but she didn’t look that way the night we saw her at Ma Flannigan’s rooming house.
Lt. Tom Brennan: Not so composed huh.


Prof. Henry Jarrod: [heavy with menace after Sue unwigs Cathy] You shouldn’t have done that my dear!


Prof. Henry Jarrod: Jarrod is dead. I’m a reincarnation.


Bruce Allison: They always want a body!


Sue Allen: It’s sort of a shock to see your head detached that way.


Scott Andrews: [to Sue, as they watch the can can dancers] You never saw a show like this in Provincetown!


Lt. Tom Brennan: You know, Shane, by the time this guy gets out of Sing Sing, this head will grow a long beard.


Trivia for  House of Wax

  • Warner Bros.’ first 3-D movie, filmed by director André De Toth – who was blind in one eye and hence could not see the effect.
  • The first 3-D color movie ever to be produced by a major American studio. Filming took only 33 days, (from Monday, January 19th, 1953 to Saturday, February 21st, 1953), for its release on Wednesday, April 9th, 1953.
  • Nedrick Young, who plays the alcoholic assistant Leon, was uncredited because he had been blacklisted during the McCarthy “Red scare” era in Hollywood.
  • Phyllis Kirk said that she had “no fond memories” of working with Charles Bronson.
  • The name of Vincent Price’s character was changed to Henry Jarrod from Ivan Igor to avoid alienating Russian viewers.
  • The alcoholic sculptor was a heroin addict in the original version of the film, Mystery of the Wax Museum (1933), but that had to be changed for the remake because the Production Code forbade any mention of drug addiction. (Ironically, a character played by Vincent Price had got away with confessing to drug addiction in Dragonwyck (1946), filmed in 1945, eight years before House of Wax.)
  • The scene where Paul Picerni is rescued from the guillotine by Frank Lovejoy seconds before the blade came down was filmed in one take, using a real guillotine blade. Picerni and director Andre De Toth got into a heated argument when Picerni, on advice from the film’s stuntmen, refused to do the scene as too dangerous (a prop man was to hold up the blade off camera and tell the actors when he dropped it so they could yank Picerni away). De Toth threw him off the picture, but several days later, on orders from studio head Jack L. Warner, De Toth recalled him and had the prop department modify the guillotine to make it less dangerous. After examining the guillotine, Picerni said he would do one take and no more, which is exactly what happened.