Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

BLACK DRAGONS


BLACK DRAGONS (1941). Director: William Nigh.

Bela Lugosi is, as usual, superior to his material in this movie but Black Dragons is not as awful as some critics may lead you to believe. Lugosi shows up at the tail end of a party of powerful men, and takes immediate mind control of the head of the household, who is hiding a sinister secret. This man never leaves his bedroom, instead giving out orders [actually Lugosi is giving the orders] to members of his staff. He doesn't even come out to see his pretty niece when she shows up out of the blue. One by one Lugosi begins to kill off the man's associates, leaving a small Japanese dagger in their hands to mark the occasion. A young inspector (Clayton Moore of Lone Ranger TV fame) and an undercover lady agent pretending to be the suspicious niece (Joan Barclay) team up informally to try to get to the bottom of things. Why is Lugosi murdering these individuals? The answer is very clever and original but won't be revealed here. Black Dragons is not a great movie by any stretch of the imagination but it holds the attention, and Lugosi's commanding presence and interesting delivery is a definite asset. Click here to read a review of a major biography of Bela Lugosi:
Verdict: Has its moments. **1/2.

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