Murders in the Zoo (3/31/1933) Randolph Scott herpatologist and boy detective or ‘why do we even HAVE that lever?’ Big game psychopath Atwill, obessively kills any man who he catches talking to his wife, God knows how many maître d’s he’s offed before we catch up with him practicing a little whip stiching in the jungle. Unfortunately his wife is the beautiful Panther woman, Kathleen Burke, in a bit of stunt casting, I mean whom ELSE would you cast? Like many of Atwill’s non-mysterious villains, we already know who done it, we are just waiting around to see how he gets caught doing it. The hook in this film are the animals, and suffering bear cubs and big cat chaos aside, they come off pretty well in this film. THEY aren’t as frightening as Atwill’s casual killer.
Comic relief Ruggles is at his Ruggly best terrified of the animals he’s trying to promote, and scene stealing with abandon. He’s much more of a protagonist than Randolph Scott in this film. Science geek is really not Scott’s milieu, his scientist is so brilliant he dopes out the murder weapon and then invites the villain to come by after dark and talk it over. Randy, get a horse.
Despite having terrible taste in men, Burke’s stalked wife has some grit about her, when she invades her husband’s study to recover the murder weapon, too bad I was starting to like her. No rear screen projection to be found at climactic dinner party IN the carnivore enclosure. A lot of real lions, real pumas, real leopards, but no one told them this was a movie, when they DO get turned loose upon each other, with the aforementioned lever, they seem to be having a very unpleasant time of it. There are two other really great gags in the film, the tossing the woman into the alligator pit stunt is very well done, if it wasn’t for lack of blood curdling screaming it looks quite real. And the constrictor cameo at the end of the film, had a hell of a stunt double and I hope they paid Atwill extra for his contibution.
It’s an adequate little comedy/murder with animals, worthy of any double bill, as long as there’s a newsreel and a short AND a cartoon and I get to take home a piece of sandwich glass. BTY When Gail Patrick is holding two bottles of milk in front of her chest, and says ‘They are nice, aren’t they?’ she’s talking about the orphaned bear cubs chained up the fence right?