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

Thursday, June 18, 2015


Henry Brandon, Catherine Craig, William Stelling
DOOMED TO DIE (1940). Director: William Nigh.

Cyrus Wentworth (Melvin Lang) is bitterly opposed to his daughter Cynthia's (Catherine Craig) marriage to Dick Fleming (William Stelling) because he is the son of his shipping rival, Paul Fleming (Guy Usher). Paul is hoping to consolidate both firms, especially after there's an accident at sea which claims many lives. Naturally the Flemings are the top suspects when Cyrus is murdered, but Cynthia sticks by her fiance. Of course Captain Street (Grant Withers) is convinced Dick is guilty, but reporter "Bobbi" Logan (Marjorie Reynolds) gets James Lee Wong (Boris Karloff) on the case. Other characters embroiled in the mystery include Matthews (Wilbur Mack), who works for Wentworth; attorney Victor Martin (Henry Brandon); and insurance adjuster Baldwin (Tristram Coffin). Doomed to Die is not awful and moves fast, but it's just blah; it's a series that ran out of gas early on. One of the problems is that the blustery character of Captain Street and his prickly relationship with Bobbi wore thin. The considerable talents of Henry Brandon [Captain Sindbad] are completely wasted in this movie. This was the penultimate Mr. Wong movie, and the last to star Boris Karloff. Keye Luke replaced him for Phantom of Chinatown. Catherine Craig is much better in this than she was in Spy Train.

Verdict: One last gasp for Karloff's Mr. Wong. **.

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