Down 68,847 this week

King of Chinatown (1939)

Approved  |   |  Action, Crime, Drama  |  17 March 1939 (USA)
Your rating:
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 -/10 X  
Ratings: 6.2/10 from 60 users  
Reviews: 3 user | 1 critic

Violene and death stalk the Chinese of a big American city, but one man, Dr. Chang Ling, and his daughter, Dr. Mary Ling, defy the racketeers who are responsible, and, against terrific odds, bring peace to their oppressed neighbors.



(story), (screenplay), 1 more credit »
0Check in

Fall TV: 15 Returning TV Shows Worth Binge Watching

Which returning shows do we recommend binging on? We've picked out 15 great options for you. Read this and more lists in our Fall TV section.

Read our list

User Lists

Related lists from IMDb users

a list of 139 titles
created 26 Sep 2012
a list of 626 titles
created 28 Nov 2012
a list of 207 titles
created 11 May 2013
list image
a list of 150 titles
created 31 May 2013
list image
a list of 14 titles
created 6 months ago

Related Items

Connect with IMDb

Share this Rating

Title: King of Chinatown (1939)

King of Chinatown (1939) on IMDb 6.2/10

Want to share IMDb's rating on your own site? Use the HTML below.

Take The Quiz!

Test your knowledge of King of Chinatown.
Learn more

People who liked this also liked... 

Certificate: Passed Crime | Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.4/10 X  

Chinese-American woman tries to expose illegal alien smuggling ring.

Director: Robert Florey
Stars: Anna May Wong, Charles Bickford, Buster Crabbe
Certificate: Passed Crime | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.4/10 X  

Princess Ling Moy, a young and beautiful Chinese aristocrat lives next door, unbeknownst to her, to Dr. Fu Manchu, a brilliant but twisted genius who is out to rule the world. She is ... See full summary »

Director: Lloyd Corrigan
Stars: Anna May Wong, Warner Oland, Sessue Hayakawa
Crime | Drama | Mystery
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.4/10 X  

An altered remake of 1933's "White Woman," finds cabaret-singer Kim Ling, daughter of a Chinese general who has been accused of absconding with government funds, arriving in the Straits ... See full summary »

Director: Kurt Neumann
Stars: Anna May Wong, J. Carrol Naish, Eric Blore
Crime | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.2/10 X  

A gangster tries to fix things so that he can marry a rich society woman.

Director: Robert Florey
Stars: Anna May Wong, Akim Tamiroff, Gail Patrick
Certificate: Passed Adventure | Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  

A loose woman rediscovers a former lover during a dangerous train ride to Shanghai.

Director: Josef von Sternberg
Stars: Marlene Dietrich, Clive Brook, Anna May Wong
Chu Chin Chow (1934)
Certificate: Passed Action | Adventure | Comedy
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.1/10 X  

Musical retelling of the "Ali Baba and the 40 Thieves" Arabian Nights tale.

Director: Walter Forde
Stars: George Robey, Fritz Kortner, Anna May Wong
Tiger Bay (1934)
Crime | Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.9/10 X  

A young Englishman abroad, Michael, visits the local low-life spot of Tiger Bay to test his assertion that the spirit of human romance survives even in the most unpromising of circumstances... See full summary »

Director: J. Elder Wills
Stars: Anna May Wong, Henry Victor, Lawrence Grossmith
Mystery | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  

Mei Lee Ling, an astrology expert, tells one of her fellow passengers on a ship, that he will die within two days and the next day he is dead. The police suspects that Mei does know ... See full summary »

Director: William C. McGann
Stars: Margaret Lindsay, Anna May Wong, Lola Lane
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.5/10 X  

After the Japanese invade China in WW 2, a young woman leads a band of partisans against the occupying troops.

Director: William Nigh
Stars: Anna May Wong, Harold Huber, Mae Clarke
Drama | Musical
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7/10 X  

In Russia, a Chinese dancer gives herself to a duke to save her brother's life.

Directors: Richard Eichberg, Walter Summers
Stars: Anna May Wong, Georg H. Schnell, John Longden
Java Head (1934)
Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  

The port city of Bristol, England, in the 1800s is home to Java Head, a sailing ship line company. The owner has two sons. One, a handsome seafarer, is in love with a local girl, but cannot... See full summary »

Directors: Thorold Dickinson, J. Walter Ruben
Stars: Anna May Wong, Elizabeth Allan, John Loder
Crime | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.2/10 X  

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 ... See full summary »

Director: Alexander Hall
Stars: George Raft, Jean Parker, Anna May Wong


Cast overview, first billed only:
Frank Baturin
Dr. Chang Ling
Philip Ahn ...
Robert 'Bob' Li
Mike Gordon
Bernadene Hayes ...
Dolly Warren
'Rip' Harrigan
Ray Mayer ...
'Potatoes', Chauffeur
Richard Denning ...
Protective Association Henchman
Archie Twitchell ...
Hospital Interne
Eddie Marr ...
Henchman Bert
George Anderson ...
Charles B. Wood ...
Henchman Red
George Magrill ...
Second Gangster


Violence and death stalk the Chinese faction of a large American city, but one man, Dr. Chang Ling, and his daughter, Dr. Mary Ling, defy the racketeers who are responsible and, against terrific odds, bring peace to their oppressed neighbors. Gangland overlord Frank Baturin is shot and only the intervention and operation by Mary Ling saves his life. She performs the operation because it is her duty as a doctor, but she also thinks Baturin was shot by her father following a quarrel with Baturin. The racketeer then sets out for vengeance against the man who had actually tried to kill him in order to take over the Chinatown rackets. Written by Les Adams <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Action | Crime | Drama | Sport


Approved | See all certifications »




Release Date:

17 March 1939 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

O Rei do Bairro Chinês  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Mirrophonic Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


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 »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

My first taste of Wong
8 March 2010 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Before seeing this movie, I'd never heard of Anna May Wong, so seeing that a woman of Chinese extraction played a lead role in this movie in 1939 was a surprise. Seeing that she played the role without being shoehorned into a stereotype was even more of a surprise. Her English was like silk, but that was the most oriental thing about her voice. Her performance in this movie was serviceable, but it's understandable that she didn't cause more of a stir in Hollywood, regardless of ethnicity.

In contrast to the racial authenticity of the leading lady, the same occidental actor who played Charlie Chan played her father, working hard to be something other than Charlie Chan but to still be the older Chinese American man. Somehow, during the course of this move, his off-pitch monotone reminded me of Dan Ayckroyd's Conehead skits. Plus, he got to deliver some of the strangest attempts to praise the Chinese identity within the American community: "We do not eat American food. I do not think many Chinese have heard of your great American dish, chop suey." While this is a nice try, it sounds pretty odd, considering that the producers couldn't put a real Chinese American actor into the part. At least they got an oriental, albeit a Korean-American to portray the younger man.

Rounding out this multi-cultural cast is Armenian-Russian playing a Russian mafioso who operates in Chinatown. He's the king, but he eventually shows another side, thanks to the kindness Dr. Ling (Wong) shows to him. Of course, she has her own motives for the kindness, but it all makes sense eventually.

During the first 30 minutes of the movie, it seems there are two stories moving independently. Only slowly do they begin to move together, and the handling of the points they overlap and intersect could have been the source of more character drama. As it is, they are too abruptly shoved against each other as some unseen clock ticks away expected run time.

There's an interesting montage in the middle of the film, which doesn't further the story at all. I'm guessing that there was some gambling and extortion and someone was getting rich. This montage is interesting mainly for being a bit obtuse. As unreal as it seems, there was more story here than this movie could contain. I imagine they cut out some of the clues about what was really happening so that Ms. Wong could have more screen time. Maybe it was in her contract.

Some things aren't quite explained, just mentioned. Dr. Ling dotes on her recovering patient so heavily, and we are left to wonder how a newspaper could stress a man so much after a gunshot wound, but still, she takes no chances. Pretty devoted for a surgeon who becomes a nursemaid (with an assistant nursemaid to boot).

And then, the film wraps up. Yes, just like that. I think someone died in the end, but I really couldn't tell. Maybe it would be too stressful for us to know the truth about that.

As I watch a movie like this, I try to imagine its potential. The story isn't a bad outline and I could definitely see Michelle Yeoh bringing more to the main role. Without massive changes, the story would still need to take place in the 30s, and ironically, I doubt current movie- goers would believe the Chinese-American female surgeon could exist in that era.

0 of 2 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Message Boards

Discuss King of Chinatown (1939) on the IMDb message boards »

Contribute to This Page

Create a character page for: