A pretty Chinese woman, seeking help from San Francisco detective James Lee Wong, is killed by a poisoned dart in his front hall, having time only to scrawl "Captain J" on a sheet of paper.... See full summary »
When a chemical manufacturer is killed after asking detective James Wong to help him, Wong investigates this and two subsequent murders. He uncovers a international spy ring hoping to steal... See full summary »
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
The failure of the original copyright holder to renew the film's copyright resulted in it falling into public domain, meaning that virtually anyone could duplicate and sell a VHS/DVD copy of the film. Therefore, many of the versions of this film available on the market are either severely (and usually badly) edited and/or of extremely poor quality, having been duped from second- or third-generation (or more) copies of the film. See more »
Having a popular, first-rate actor like Boris Karloff in the title role of its Mr. Wong mystery series added an unaccustomed touch of class to poverty row studio Monogram's usual low-budget lineup of undistinguished programmers. The portrayal of the genteel Chinese detective must have likewise been a nice change of pace for the refined Englishman from the run of monsters and other sinister types he had been typically cast. Okay, so Karloff looked about as much like a Percheron ice wagon horse as a Chinaman. Let's just assume he was one of a those half-British Hong Kong Wongs. In any case he manages to project a convincing Oriental ambiance with only a minimum of makeup, while showing the maximum of sophisticated acting talent his fans have come to expect. Monogram seems to have responded by giving the Mr. Wong series the best staff and the biggest budget the financially disadvantaged studio could scrape together to support Karloff, who was a bigger name than they were used to having around.
The Mystery Of Mr. Wong, second in the series, is immeasurably better produced than the first entry. Nice sets, both interior and exterior, smart, well-lighted cinematography and tight editing complement William Nigh's sharp direction. A full-bodied, original score by Edward J. Kay enhances the drama, action, and suspense while setting the just-right mysterious, exotic, and sometimes spooky atmosphere. The Scott Darling screenplay is complex and intelligent with engaging, at times even snappy, dialog. It presents a classic drawing room style mystery. The principle murder victim is a cad hated by all, which makes practically every character a suspect. Clues appear and disappear, sometimes even falling out of pictures on the wall. Karloff gets a competent supporting cast including elegant, if not so well-known leading lady Dorothy Tree, polished, oft-seen character actor Holmes Herbert, and stalwart Grant Withers in his reoccurring role as tough cop Captain Street. The police in this one are portrayed as less overbearing and bumbling than in the previous entry -- perhaps there were complaints from the policemen's benevolent associations. It's a mixed blessing. While the cops here are more efficient and less disruptive to the cagey Mr. Wong's efforts to solve the case, they are inevitably and sadly less humorous. While those of the politically correct persuasion may complain about an Occidental playing the Chinese detective, these little movies nevertheless gave good employment to a number of Oriental supporting actors, notably in this one Lotus Long, as a maid who knows more than she should about the mystery, Chester Gan as the no-nonsense butler who tries to help the police, and Lee Tung Foo in a reoccurring role as Mr. Wong's efficient manservant. The producers of the series gave pretty Ms. Long parts in two other Mr. Wong numbers, including the leading lady role in Phantom Of Chinatown (1940).
The Mystery of Mr. Wong nimbly belies its cheap origins all the way through -- so well put together, intriguing, smoothly paced, and entertaining, it seems almost like an "A" picture, or at least a big studio a "B" production. Karloff is a delight. Viewing the first two movies in the set, has made the fifteen bucks I sprang for VCI's well restored two-disk album of all six Mr. Wong movies look like the shopping coup of the season. If you like off-beat little mystery potboilers that pack a load of entertainment into a short running time, then Mr. Wong is wight for you! Sorry, I couldn't resist.
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