Leni, a former designer for Reinhardt, seems to have conceived Waxworks as an inventory of expressionistic effects, using a different style, motif, and mood for each of its three episodes. The first is erotic and very funny, with Jannings as a wicked Caliph whose rotundity is echoed by the Bagdad sets, all bulbous walls and secret orifices. The second is a sadistic fantasia, with Veidt as Ivan the Terrible, eventually driven mad by his own tortures. The last is a phantasmagoria of Jack the Ripper (Krauss), pursuing young lovers through a nightmare London of cobblestones and fog. The result is consistently enthralling, years ahead of its time. The poet seen dreaming up the stories, incidentally, was to become the Hollywood director William Dieterle.
Cast and crew