Murder in the Museum starts off promising with cool spooky music and a wonderful location - a dime museum called the Sphere Museum, billed as "The World's Largest Collection of Natural and Unnatural Wonders." Though the heydey of the dime museums was past when this film was made, it strives to evoke that fascinating freaks and fakirs for nickel era. See the Living Head! Watch the Armless Artist! Have your fortune told by Katura the Seeress! Amaze at the magic of Profesor Mysto!
When a crusading councilman is murdered as he investigates rumored drug dealing (right after the hoochie coochie dance) a newspaper reporter and a spunky young woman go after the killer.
If you're into the sideshows, freakshows and carnivals of the 20s and 30s you'll probably enjoy the dime museum trappings of the story. One detail they definitely got right - after the murder the museum advertises for patrons to "come see the spot where Councilman Newgate was Murdered." That totally would have happened.
There's an actual mystery here (who killed the councilman - and how) and our hero does some actual sleuthing to resolve the case. Watch for Symona Boniface as the menacing fortune teller. She would later go on to menace the Three Stooges in many of their shorts.
MITM was directed by Melville Shyer, considered one of the founding directors of Hollywood. He only directed a handful of pictures but he worked as assistant director on about 150 films. Despite this pedigree, the film suffers from a bit too much staginess and so I'm rating it 3 stars.