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Rowland V. Lee
The Eye of the Daughter of the Moon, a golfball sized sapphire has been stolen in China and smuggled into the US. Richards, a rich man who knows a curse was placed on the Eye by the Emperor Hong Chong Tu as he buried it in his dead unfaithful wife's heart, expects to be murdered for receiving it. He shows Mr Wong the Eye and a death threat note. At a party, during a game of "Indications", Richards is shot, seemingly by his secretary, Peter Harrison. Add a peeking Chinese butler and maid, a budding singer, another criminologist, Richards' lawyer and an unsigned changed will. Mr Wong helps Street sort out the details to uncover all the secrets and the murderer. Written by
John P Roberts, Jr
When compared to the typical genre mystery of it's time, this movie is quite good. Karloff raises the level with his measured acting, and the film is mercifully free of the comic relief clowning that was so common at the time.
This is one of those 'house' mysteries. Most of the action occurs in one house - the house of a wealthy man, as always. And, as is so often true in the genre, the detective just happens to be on the scene when the murder occurs. Another plus for this film is that the policeman - Detective Street - is not a buffoon. Street is less a foil than an aid to Mr Wong, allowing us to take the story seriously - although we can't be too serious. There are obvious red herrings, and sudden reveals of facts we didn't have. For all that, the Wong series came after the clunkiness of the early talkies had been worked out, and the acting is much closer to what we would come to expect from classic studio products.
Although I always struggle with Karloff as a Chinese - unlike the Chan series, for some reason - I have to say the role he played got the job done. This film is out of copyright, and is available online for free, and on at least one low-priced mystery collection. I found it at the library in a 5 CD Mystery and Murder set.
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