Murders in the Zoo

Paramount 1933
Starring Charlie Ruggles, Lionel Atwill, Kathleen Burke,
John Lodge, Randolph Scott, Gail Patrick
Universal Home Video, VHS only
Out of print - try eBay or

Lionel Atwill in his early Hollywood days used to wax philosophically about his love for villainous roles. He relished all that was sinister and dark in his choice of film roles, and Murders in the Zoo is proof positive. In the opening moments of the show, Atwill gleefully sews up his wife's suitor's mouth, so in his words, "He'll never kiss another man's wife," and leaves the hapless victim at the mercy of jungle beasts while he and his spouse sail for America with a cargo ship hold full of exotic animals for his zoo. Now that's a beginning!

You'd think the wife would learn, but alas old habits die hard. So, Atwill's old habits become homicidal.

Charlie Ruggles is thrown into the mix for comic relief as the prissy press agent, who arranged a benefit dinner to raise funds for the zoo, and cleans the wild animal cages in his multi-tasking duties. When he traps a wayward snake that has bumped off another of Atwill's wife's admirers, he asks for laundry service. When Atwill's wife accuses him of the murderous crime, Atwill cracks with a wry smile, "You don't think I sat there with an eight foot mamba in my pocket, do you? It would be an injustice to my tailor." It's anyone's guess as to whether Atwill or Ruggles is funnier or has the better lines.

This one is rich with atmosphere and lush photography, and is proof positive that Paramount Studios was more than capable of producing top flight horror movies in the 30s. For anyone who's into this genre, this is a must see! But don't write us about the eight foot mamba in your pocket, or your laundry needs!

Back to Home Page