2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
Ah, so! Ah, so what?
F Gwynplaine MacIntyre from Minffordd, North Wales
27 September 2002
"The Yellow Mask" is based on "The Traitor's Gate" a melodramatic stage
thriller by hyper-prolific author Edgar Wallace. It's a messy chop suey.
starters, this is one of those racist "yellow peril" dramas which assumes
that there's no crime or perversion which those sinister Chinese are
incapable of committing. Worse luck, "The Yellow Mask" can't decide what
sort of film it wants to be: it's a thriller, interrupted by bouts of
slapstick comedy and operetta-style musical numbers.
The Chinese prince Li-San (played by Warwick Ward with Sellotape on his
eyelids) has come to London to steal one of the Crown jewels: a
diamond which, three centuries ago, was the eye in the statue of a
god, who now wants it back. (Surprisingly, the script admits that this
diamond only ever got to London in the first place because an Englishman
stole it from the Chinese.) Li-San steals the diamond with stereotypical
Oriental cunning. While he's about it, he also steals Mary Trayne
Seacombe), the innocent fiancee of jut-jawed English guardsman John Carn
Sam Slipper (with a name like that, you know he's comedy relief) is a
Street newspaper reporter who stows away aboard Li-San's ship, which of
course is staffed with a full crew of sinister dacoits and hooded
Sam Slipper is played by Lupino Lane. During his Hollywood period, Lupino
Lane did some of the most virtuoso (and hilarious) acrobatics in the
of movie comedy: Lane's acrobatic skills even surpassed those of Buster
Keaton, and I don't make such comparisons lightly. Here, alas, Lane does
some limp slapstick pratfalls in his attempts to escape the sinister
Oriental hatchetmen of Li-San. Maybe Lane was getting too old, but his
acrobatic abilities here are a pale shadow of his best
Meanwhile, Officer Carn has dashed off to rescue his beloved Mary,
only to stiffen his upper lip. Carn and Mary get locked up in Li-San's
dark Oriental dungeon (separate cells: they're only engaged, not
But the dungeon doors have such lovely Chinese cherry blossoms blooming.
the lovers sing a romantic duet to each other from their dungeon cells.
the dream sequence with Peter Ibbetson.
There is, of course, a happy ending ... but it comes out of nowhere. "The
Yellow Mask" was directed by Harry Lachman, one of the most underrated
directors of 1930s Hollywood. (Lachman spent a year in London, directing
this and several other English films.) Lachman does excellent work here,
he's hampered by a ridiculous script and a dull cast. The best
are given by Lupino Lane and his brother Wallace Lupino ... but their
here are very inferior to their work elsewhere. I'm trying to think up
clever Chinese fortune-cookie joke to finish up this review ... but,
"The Yellow Mask" isn't worth the bother.
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