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Fearing for his life, businessman & owner of Dayton Chemicals Inc. Dayton
(John Hamilton) turns to Oriental detective Mr.Wong (Boris Karloff), who
advices him to, before doing anything drastic, have a good night sleep, &
offers to talk things over the next morning.
Not the best of advices, maybe, for in the morning, Dayton is first
threatened by scientist Carl Roemer (John St.Polis), who claims Dayton has
stolen his formula for a poison gas, with a gun, then, after he has called the
police to take care of Roemer, Dayton is found dead in his office. Police
detective Sam Street (Grant Withers) immediately jumps to conclusions &
arrests Roemer for shooting Dayton - problem is, Dayton was not shot but
poisoned by gas, & only thanks to Wong - who does show up shortly after
Dayton's death - are pieces of the globe containing the gas found.
Not convinced of Roemer's guilt takes investigations into his own hands
& starts with Wilk (Hooper Atchley), Dayton's business partner, where 2
sinister characters, Baron Von Krantz a.k.a. Anton Mohl (Lucien Prival) &
Countess Dubois a.k.a. Olga Petroff (Evelyn Brent) also happen to show up as
well as Dayton's other business partner Meisel (William Gould). & among all
these possible suspects, Wilk receives a letter from Roemer, warning him that
his life's in danger. Wilk locks himself inside his office & calls the
police - but as they show up, he is already dead, poisoned just like Dayton,
& Wong again finds pieces of the glass globe.
& as a trail again leads to Roemer, who is still in police custody, his
questioning gets even tougher until he breaks down, admitting that he has
evidence against Meisel, which he wasn't willing to disclose since Meisel
threatened to harm Roemer's wife (Grace Wood). The police now rush to Meisel,
whom they only find dead, killed by the same gas as Dayton & Wilk - was it
suicide, one might wonder ...
Only for Wong, the case is not closed yet, as at his home he is threatened
by Anton Mohl, Olga Petroff & their thug Lescardi (Frank Bruno), who are
involved in some smuggling of chemicals & who notice the detective on their
trail. But fortunately, Wong has arranged for the police & Roemer to stop
by at his house & arrest the trio of smugglers on any number of charges,
but not the murder of Dayton, Wilk & Meisel.
But who, you may ask, did commit the killings then, and how ?
It was Roemer after all, who has planned the crimes months ahead &
planted a globe containing the gas in each man's office, & the globes were
made of glass that would break by the frequency of a police siren. All Roemer
had to do now was to arrange for the police to come to each man's house - which
he could easily do from out of prison, thereby also having the perfect alibi
When big Fox had amazing success with its Charlie Chan-series
& even its house-produced rip-off, the Mister Moto-series,
little Monogram decided they wanted to have a piece of the cake as well, &
found perfect source material in Hugh Wiley's stories about Mister Wong,
yet another oriental supersleuth.
Of course, Boris Karloff, a tall British actor with a very accurate &
soft-spoken English pronounciation, was, despite his versatility, totally
unconvincing as a Chinaman, & the series didn't catch on quite as well as
the Charlie Chan-series, even when, after 5 films, the lead was
handed over to Keye Luke - formerly Charlie Chan's Number One Son
- for Phantom
of Chinatown (1940) - who was the only Oriental of his time to play
an Oriental detective.
Eventually, the series was shelved
altogether in 1940, but in 1944 Monogram did acquire the rights to the Charlie Chan-series,
& naturally no longer needed to bother with an imitation. However, most Mister
Wong-films were later remade as in Monogram's
Charlie Chan-series, this
one as Docks of New Orleans in 1948.
This film, the first entry into the Mr.Wong-series is a slow & predictable but not
altogether unintelligent crime drama, it does however lack some good-natured
humour that would - among many other B-mystery-series - make the Charlie Chan-series so loveable.
By the way, the Mister Wong-series has nothing to do with
the 1935 Bela Lugosi-vehicle Mysterious Mr. Wong, also directed by
William Nigh, also for Monogram.