Fresh from Chinatown in New York, Harry Young has taken over the illegal import business in the seamy Limehouse district of London, where he cold-bloodedly disposes of rivals and runs a ...
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Fresh from Chinatown in New York, Harry Young has taken over the illegal import business in the seamy Limehouse district of London, where he cold-bloodedly disposes of rivals and runs a smoky nightclub. He falls for a low-class, white pickpocket, diminishing his pride in the Chinese half of his heritage and sparking the jealousy of the nightclub's moody star performer. Written by
One of over 700 Paramount Productions, filmed between 1929 and 1949, which were sold to MCA/Universal in 1958 for television distribution, and have been owned and controlled by Universal ever since. See more »
Drawing its title from the 1922 jazz standard, "Limehouse Blues" is a fast-paced, moody mix of crime and infatuation in a seedy London district. Director Alexander Hall and cinematographer Harry Fischbeck maintain a consistent aura throughout, making this film as brief and surprisingly good as a potsticker. George Raft plays Harry Young, an upstart crime boss of mixed heritage (one character calls him a "half-and-half"), who has infiltrated Limehouse from New York. Oddly, Raft needed little makeup to believably play half-Chinese. Whether Harry Young's wardrobe is of English or Chinese make, it is impeccable in every scene and seems to be part of the storytelling. Harry owns and even performs in a Limehouse nightclub with Tu Tuan (sultry Anna May Wong). He is closely in tune with his Asian culture, but that is shaken when white chippy Toni (Jean Parker) with xenophobic tendencies comes into his life. Parker is not for an instant plausibly British, becoming the biggest hurdle in suspending disbelief. Toni's stepfather Pug (malicious Montagu Love) is Harry's chief rival on the docks. Inspector Sheridan (Robert Loraine) has them both under a watchful eye. When Harry falls for Toni, and Toni starts seeing another young fellow (the hint is that he is a thoroughbred unlike Harry), and Tu Tuan's jealousy leads her to revenge, and someone ends up dead, well there you have a plot. Along the way we get slimy John Rogers, always just right Billy Bevans and even an uncredited Eric Blore creating his staple character. In heritage alone, Harry Young would seem a bit out of type for Raft, but his clear comfort in the part makes one think he drew on his New York memories of those he knew to put this one across. "Limehouse Blues" is a tasty trip through the Chinese sector, touching on race relations and self-value.
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