WEST OF SHANGHAI
(director: John Farrow; screenwriters: from the play “The Bad Man” by Porter Emerson Browne/Crane Wilbur; cinematographer: L. William O’Connell; editor: Frank DeWar; music: Heinz Roemheld; cast: Boris Karloff (General Wu Yen Fang), Beverly Roberts (Jane Creed), Ricardo Cortez (Gordon Creed), Gordon Oliver (Jim Hallet), Sheila Bromley (Lola Galt), Douglas Wood (Myron Galt), Gordon Hart (Dr. Abernathy), Richard Loo (Mr. Cheng), Chester Gan (Captain Kung Nui ), Vladimir Sokoloff (General Chow Fu-Shan), Selmer Jackson (Harry Hemingway), Tetsu Komai(General Ma); Runtime: 65; MPAA Rating: NR; producers: Bryan Foy/Hal B. Wallis/Jack L. Warner; Warner Bros.; 1937)
“Boris Karloff is a hoot as a noble Chinese warlord.“
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
The third remake (1923 & 1930) of the play “The Bad Man” by Porter Emerson Browne is competently directed by John Farrow (“The Big Clock”/”Where Danger Lives”/”His Kind of Woman”) and is tautly written byCrane Wilbur. The setting is changed from Mexico to China. Boris Karloff is a hoot as a noble Chinese warlord, speaking in broken English.
Oil man Gordon Creed (Ricardo Cortez) and rival oil man Myron Galt (Douglas Wood) and his pretty daughter Lola (Sheila Bromley) are on a train bound for the frontier of north China, where the American oilmen are interested in the oil fields of the American Jim Hallet (Gordon Oliver). Myron is already Jim’s partner, but is going there to give him more funds because he defaulted on his loan; while the sneaky Gordon is going there to offer Jim more money to go partners with his big investment company and to visit his estranged wife, Jane (Beverly Roberts), who is a medical missionary in the province under Dr. Abernathy (Gordon Hart).
The visitors are met at their destination by Jim and are surprised a war is raging between the nationalist army and the rebel bandit General Wu Yen Fang (Boris Karloff). Jim takes them for shelter to the medical mission, but Fang soon attacks and holds them for ransom. Since Jim once saved Fang’s life, so as a return favor Fang tries to resolve the romantic triangle between Jim and Gordon over Gordon’s missionary wife. Lola also loves Jim, which adds a little more to the complications. When the contradictory Fang, appearing to be a ruthless egomaniac to outsiders but inside his character reveals a man of principles, views Gordon as a slimy husband, a double-crosser to his friends and an unscrupulous businessman, he shoots him and then bravely faces the firing squad when the regular army of General Ma (Tetsu Komai) overruns him at the mission.
REVIEWED ON 11/24/2010 GRADE: B