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The Mysterious Mr. Wong (1934)

Approved | | Mystery | 22 December 1934 (USA)
Investigating a series of murders in Chinatown, wise-guy reporter Jason Barton is captured by the megalomaniacal Mr. Wong, desperately trying to complete his collection of the twelve gold ... See full summary »

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(suggested by the story: "The Twelve Coins of Confucius"), (adaptation) | 2 more credits »
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Cast

Complete credited cast:
...
Mr. Fu Wong aka Li See (as Béla Lugosi)
...
Jason H. 'Jay' Barton
...
Peg
E. Alyn Warren ...
Tsi Tung (as Fred Warren)
...
Moonflower - Wong's Niece
Robert Emmett O'Connor ...
Officer 'Mac' McGillicuddy (as Robert Emmet O'Connor)
...
Jen Yu - Wong Henchman (as Edward Peil)
Luke Chan ...
Professor Chan Fu
Lee Shumway ...
Etta Lee ...
Lusan - Moonflower's Attendant
Ernest F. Young ...
Reporter Chuck Roberts
Edit

Storyline

Investigating a series of murders in Chinatown, wise-guy reporter Jason Barton is captured by the megalomaniacal Mr. Wong, desperately trying to complete his collection of the twelve gold coins of Confucius, with which he will be able to acquire the power to become ruler of a large province in China. Written by Doug Sederberg <vornoff@sonic.net>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

Out of the night creeps a shadow, striking terror into the heart of Chinatown! See more »

Genres:

Mystery

Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

22 December 1934 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

As 12 Moedas de Confúcio  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Filmed mid October-November 1934, released January 25 1935 (copyright 1935). See more »

Quotes

Editor: Did you ever run into a Chinaman by the name of Wong?
Barton: Have I ever run into one that ain't named Wong?
See more »

Connections

Edited into Who Dunit Theater: The Mysterious Mr. Wong (2015) See more »

Soundtracks

Le Roi Lepreuz
(uncredited)
Music by Henri Poussigue
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

 
Bela Lugosi wants to rule China
7 March 2006 | by (Vancouver, Canada) – See all my reviews

Ages ago, so the story goes, Confucius gave 12 coins to his disciples and vowed that anyone who came into possession of all 12 would rule the province of Keelat (wherever THAT is!). Many centuries later 10 of the 12 coins have fallen into the possession of Mr. Wong (Bela Lugosi) who will stop at nothing, including murder, to get the other 2. Therein, my dear readers, lies our plot.

Local newspaper reporter Jason Barton (Wallace Ford) hears about the killings in San Francisco's Chinatown and decides to investigate; or rather he is TOLD to investigate by his editor. Barton tracks the killer to the seemingly innocent shop of Ly See the herb dealer (also Bela) who tries to put him on the wrong trail but after several attempts on his life, Barton realises all roads lead back to the humble Ly See. Could he be more than what he seems? Perhaps!

It would be easy to dismiss this film as anti-Asian and racist but let us consider when it was made. In 1935 many Americans feared what came to be known as The Yellow Peril. They feared that China would take over the USA by sheer force of numbers since China's population well outnumbered that of the US. Furthermore the movie reflects the attitudes of Americans AT THAT TIME toward the Chinese. You need only watch a few minutes of SHANGHAI EXPRESS (1932) or THE MASK OF FU MANCHU (also 1932) to be convinced that Hollywood believed all Asians to be inferior. The dialog in this movie is no exception. When first informed of a killing in Chainatown Ford's character remarks "What do I care about a dead laundryman?". Even MacGillicuddy the friendly cop on the beat down in Chinatown (J. Farrell MacDonald) says things like "Them Chinamen is jabberin' like a room full o' monkeys." and when informed of another death says "Better dead ones than live ones." Sadly this was the attitude of many Americans at the time and this movie, like several others, merely reflects that attitude.

Meanwhile it is a rather good mystery with lots of plots that would do a 12 chapter cliffhanger good with believable villains, good heroes and a plot which never strays too far from believability. Of course Bela's accent is no more Chinese than it was Mexican, Greek, French, German or any other role he had to play in those days but it does lead a touch of exotic authenticity to his role. Obviously turning down the role in FRANKENSTEIN was already beginning to haunt him since Universal loaned him out for this low budget film.

Wallace Ford is quite good as the wisecracking reporter. He fills in the spot left vacant by Lee Tracy after his . . . er . . . "incident" on a Hollywood street and Ford had a niche which he would return to many times in his career.

So is MYSTERIOUS MR. WONG bad? No! Is it a fun film? Yes. Is it worth seeing? Yes! It is 65 minutes well invested in your education into film history and you will not regret it.

Oh, and does Bela's character ever get all 12 coins of Confucius? Now come on, you don't really think I was going to say, did you? Find out for yourself!


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