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The Mysterious Mr. Wong

USA 1935
produced by
George Yohalem for Monogram
directed by William Nigh
starring Bela Lugosi, Wallace Ford, Arline Judge, Fred Warren, Lotus Long, Robert Emmett O'Connor, Edward Peil sr, Luke Chan, Lee Shumway, Etta Lee, Ernest F. Young, Theodore Lorch
screenplay by Nina Howatt, Lew Levinson, James Herbuveaux, based on The Twelve Coins of Confucius by Harry Stephen Keeler, musical director: Abe Meyer, cinematography by Harry Neumann

review by
Mike Haberfelner

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Mr.Wong (Bela Lugosi), that mysterious Chinaman who by the daytime dresses up as a simple herbs salesman, is trying to attain world domination by collecting the 12 Coins of Confucius (somehow they grant its owner limitless power, but don't ask how), and he even kills his fellow Chinaman to get the full collection. But alas, he only has eleven, and when he tries to get the twelfth, he crosses paths with nosey newspaper reporteer Barton (Wallace Ford), pretty much the only man in town who doesn't believe the story of the police who attribute Wong's murders to a Tong War.

Somehow it seems though that Barton is just bumbling about, hitting dead ends whichever direction he turns to in his investigations and repeatedly  tripping over new corpses, but somehow the twelfth coin eventually makes its way into Barton's possession. And as if that wasn't enough, by sure luck he and his girlfriend Peg (Arline Judge) stumble over Wong's secret hide-out ... which is mostly bad news, because Wong has decided to torture Peg (focussing on her fingernails) to get Barton to tell him where he has hidden the coin. But somehow Barton has managed to inform the police, and in the end Wong is shot as a reward for his attempt to rule the world.

 


First of all, from today's point of view this film is hardly politically correct, it's filled with quite some racist remarks towards the Chinese population (e.g. Wallace Ford quips about a dead Chinaman "one less laundryman"), but it's slightly unfair to judge 70 year old films solely by today's standards ...

Taken by its merits as a B-mystery, The Mysterious Mr.Wong is an ok if not outstanding little thriller with a better than usual wisecracking leading couple (both Wallace Ford and Arline Judge had previously made themselves a name over at RKO) that also handles the comedy aspects of the film. And Bela Lugosi plays his villain role with relish, even if his thick Hungarian accent does not sit well with his role as a Chinaman.

This film, by the way, has nothing in the least to whatsoever do with the Mister Wong series of the late 1930's/early 40's starring Boris Karloff (and Keye Luke, later on), which was also produced by Monogram and mostly also directed by William Nigh.

 

review © by Mike Haberfelner

 

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Tales to Chill
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Tales to Chill
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a collection of short stories and mini-plays
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from the post-apocalyptic
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Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

the new anthology by
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Out now from
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On the same day
a Burglar wants to kill you
and your Ex wants
to make up ...
... and for the life of it,
you can't decide
WHICH IS WORSE!!!

 

A Killer Conversation

produced by and starring
Melanie Denholme
directed by
David V.G. Davies
written by
Michael Haberfelner
starring
Ryan Hunter and
Rudy Barrow

out now on DVD