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DRUMS OF FU MANCHU (directors: John English/William Witney; screenwriters: from the book by Sax Rohmer/Franklin Adreon/Morgan B. Cox/Sol Shor/Norman Hall/Ronald Davidson; cinematographer: William Nobles ; editors: Edward Todd/William Thompson; music: Paul Sawtell; cast: Henry Brandon (Fu Manchu), William Royle ( Sir Dennis Nayland Smith), Robert Kellard (Allen Parker), George Cleveland (Professor Parker), Gloria Franklin (Fah Lo Suee), Olaf Hytten (Dr. Petrie), Luana Walters (Mary Randolph), John Merton (Loki); Runtime: 68; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Hiram S. Brown Jr.; VCI Entertainment (Republic); 1940)
Henry Brandon is excellent as Fu Manchu.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

The superior 1940 Republic serial of 268 minutes and 15 chapters is amazingly made into an efficacious abridged 68 minute feature. It uses the same title. Directors John English and William Witneydo a nice job with the only serial I can think of named after the villain. It’s based on the book by Sax Rohmer. The well-written screenplay is by Franklin Adreon, Morgan B. Cox, Sol Shor, Norman Hall and Ronald Davidson. Henry Brandon is excellent as Fu Manchu.

The intense plot is about the villainous Fu Manchu, the leader of a gang known as the Si-Fan. Fu Manchu possesses mystical hypnotic power and through that power has made a zombie-like slave army for himself. He sends his minions, called Dacoits, to Central Asia hoping to start tribal wars that will allow the evil one to acquire the all-powerful Sacred Scepter of Genghis Khan. This instrument will give the evil doctor control of all the tribes in Asia. Fu Manchu is further helped by Fah-Lo-Suee (Gloria Franklin), his sexy Eurasian daughter. Thwarting the evil one’s plans are Sir Nayland Smith (William Royle), of the British Foreign Office, his assistant Dr. Petrie (Olaf Hytten), and his youthful American associate Allan Parker (Robert Kellard). Allan’s father, archaeologist Professor Parker (George Cleveland), was killed by Fu Manchu.

The popular serial gets its title because whenever the sinister Dr. Fu Manchu is ready to kill, sounds of strange drums can be heard coming from somewhere unknown.

It’s one of the better cliffhanger serials.


Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”