MR. WONG IN CHINATOWN
(director: William Nigh; screenwriters: Hugh Wiley/Scott Darling; cinematographer: Harry Neumann; editor: Russell Schoengarth; music: Edward J. Kay; cast: Boris Karloff (James Lee Wong), Marjorie Reynolds (Roberta ‘Bobbie’ Logan), Grant Withers (Police Capt. Bill Street), Huntley Gordon (Mr. Davidson), George Lynn (Capt. Guy Jackson), William Royle (Capt. Jalme), Lotus Long (Princess Lin Hwa), James Flavin (Sergeant Jerry), Bessie Loo (Lilly May, Maid), Lee Tong Foo (Willie), Richard Loo (Aged Chinese), Angelo Rossitto (Dwarf), Guy Usher (Commissioner); Runtime: 71; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: William Lackey; Monogram Pictures; 1939)
“It offers an exciting climax and a wonderfully droll comical performance by Karloff, and is one of the better films in the low-budget B-film series.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
This is the third Wong film in the series. It has the Chinese sleuth created by Hugh Wiley for Collier’s Magazine being deftly played by the Caucasian Boris Karloff. Scott Darling hands in the entertaining script and William Nigh (“Mr. Wong, Detective”/”The Mystery of Mr. Wong”/”Doomed to Die”) directs the hokum for maximum entertainment value.
It opens with a frightened Chinese lady coming to the San Francisco home of private detective James Lee Wong (Boris Karloff) for help and while waiting for him in the study, she’s killed by a poison dart fired by a sleeve-gun from the open window. Before dying, she scribbles on a notepad Captain J … . The mystery lady is soon identified by a snooping and zealous lady reporter for the Herald, Roberta Logan (Marjorie Reynolds), the ditzy girlfriend of the gruff lead investigator, Capt. Bill Street (Grant Withers), as the Chinese Princess Lin Hwa (Lotus Long) who just arrived on the Maid of the Orient from China. After another baffling murder by the same poison dart weapon, of Hwa’s maid (Besie Loo), the Chinese detective discovers from his confidante in the Tong (Richard Loo) that the princess was on a secret mission to buy arms for her brother’s army back in China. The murder suspects involve a Chinese dwarf (Angelo Rossitto), the boat captain (William Royle) of the Maid of the Orient, the head of a phony airplane manufacturing company based in Los Angeles named Captain Jackson (George Lynn), and a banker (Huntley Gordon) where the princess had a bank account and mysteriously her million dollar bank account was exhausted.
It offers an exciting climax and a wonderfully droll comical performance by Karloff, and is one of the better films in the low-budget B-film series.
REVIEWED ON 6/13/2008 GRADE: B