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

Thursday, April 2, 2015


Boris Karloff and Grant Withers
MR. WONG, DETECTIVE (1938). Director: Hugh Wiley.

Mr. Wong is the third Oriental sleuth introduced after Charlie Chan and Mr. Moto. James Lee Wong originally appeared in stories that appeared in Collier's and was the subject of several pictures for cheapie studio Monogram (where Charlie Chan eventually wound up). In this first Mr. Wong movie, Wong (a well-cast Boris Karloff) receives a plea for help from the frightened Dayton (John Hamilton), who runs a chemical company and who is convinced that someone is out to get him. As usual in these pictures, the client winds up dead, and there are more murders to follow. The murder method is poison gas but the killer is especially clever in figuring out how to get the gas to the victim. Suspects and other characters include Captain Street (Grant Withers of Radio Patrol) who's investigating the case; his gal, Myra (Maxine Jennings); the bitter inventor Roemer (John St. Polis); the mysterious Olga Petrov (Evelyn Brent of Daughter of Shanghai); and Dayton's partners, Meisle (William Gould) and Wilk (Hooper Atchley). The performances are fine and the picture moves fairly quickly, although a musical score certainly would have helped. Withers and Brent also appeared together in the serial Jungle Jim

Verdict: Not bad intro to the Mr. Wong series. ***.

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