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Drums of Fu Manchu (1940) More at IMDbPro »


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Down 2% in popularity this week. See why on IMDbPro.
Sax Rohmer (book)
Franklin Adreon (original screenplay) ...
View company contact information for Drums of Fu Manchu on IMDbPro.
Release Date:
15 March 1940 (USA) See more »
RUTHLESS DICTATORSHIP (original ad - all caps) See more »
The nefarious Dr. Fu Manchu searches for the keys to the tomb of Genghis Khan, in order to fulfill a... See more » | Add synopsis »
User Reviews:
The Yellow Peril In Serial Style See more (10 total) »


  (in credits order) (verified as complete)

Henry Brandon ... Dr. Fu Manchu
William Royle ... Sir Dennis Nayland Smith
Robert Kellard ... Allan Parker
Gloria Franklin ... Fah-Lo-Suee
Olaf Hytten ... Dr. Flinders Petrie
Tom Chatterton ... Prof. Edward Randolph
Luana Walters ... Mary Randolph
Lal Chand Mehra ... Sirdar Prahni [Chs 9-10]
George Cleveland ... Dr. James Parker [Ch.1]
John Dilson ... Prof. Ezra Howard [Chs.5-6]
John Merton ... Loki

Dwight Frye ... Prof. Anderson [Ch.5]
Wheaton Chambers ... Dr. Humphrey [Chs.2-3]
George Pembroke ... C.W. Crawford
Guy D'Ennery ... Ranah Sang [Chs.1,7; b.g.4]
rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Lowden Adams ... Blake, Randolph's Assistant [Ch. 1] (uncredited)
Philip Ahn ... Dr. Chang [Ch.4] (uncredited)
John Bagni ... Dangra - Spy at Fort [Ch.8] (uncredited)
Ann Baldwin ... Miss Frisbie - Winchester's Secretary [Ch.1] (uncredited)
Robert Blair ... Police Sergeant at Randolph's [Ch. 1] (uncredited)
George Bruggeman ... Fort Telegrapher [Ch.13] (uncredited)
Budd Buster ... Dacoit 2 on Train [Chs.1-2] (uncredited)
Tommy Coats ... Dacoit 13 in Asia [Chs.9-12] (uncredited)
Victor Cox ... Tartar [Chs. 14-15] (uncredited)
Joe De Stefani ... High Lhama [Ch.15] (uncredited)
Art Dillard ... Dacoit 7 at Headquarters [Chs.3-6] (uncredited)
Bert Dillard ... Dacoit 16 in Fu Manchu's Hut [Ch.14-15] (uncredited)
Akim Dobrynin ... Solar Mirror Native [Ch.9] (uncredited)
Frank Ellis ... Tartar [Chs. 14-15] (uncredited)
James Fawcett ... Dacoit (uncredited)
James Flatley ... Pegai, Dacoit 4 [Chs.1-2] (uncredited)
Augie Gomez ... Wax Museum Dacoit (uncredited)
Jennifer Gray ... Stewardess [Ch.6] (uncredited)
Duke Green ... Clay Street Dacoit 6 [Ch. 2] (uncredited)
Alan Gregg ... Dacoit 5 Pilot [Chs.1, 3-4] (uncredited)
Jamiel Hasson ... Tribal Chieftain [Chs.12-14; b.g.1,4,7-8] (uncredited)
John Lester Johnson ... Cardo, Howard's Servant [Ch.5] (uncredited)
John Judd ... Dacoit 17 in Fu Manchu's Hut [Chs.14-15] (uncredited)
Edward Kaye ... Dacoit 3 on Wires [Ch.1] (uncredited)
Bert LeBaron ... Railroad Fireman [Chs.1-2] (uncredited)
James B. Leong ... Chinese Si Fan Member [Chs.1,4,7-8,14] (uncredited)
Eric Lonsdale ... Sentry [Ch.8] (uncredited)
Paul Marion ... Si-Fan Messenger at Hotel [Ch.7] (uncredited)
Merrill McCormick ... Koomerow's Aide [Ch.13, background] (uncredited)
John Meredith ... Fort Gate Sentry [Ch. 13] (uncredited)
Tofik Mickey ... Hindu Si Fan Member [Chs.1,4,7-8,14] (uncredited)
Jack Montgomery ... Cleanshaven Villainous Native [Chs.13-14] (uncredited)
Norman Nesbitt ... Wally Winchester [Ch. 1] (uncredited)
Bill Nind ... Lhama's Telegrapher [Ch.13] (uncredited)
Tony Paton ... Temple Guard [Chs.9-10] (uncredited)
Charles Phillips ... Railroad Mail Car Clerk [Ch.1] (uncredited)
John Picorri ... Prof. Krantz [Ch.6] (uncredited)
Paul Renay ... Nihala Tribe Chief Kandhar [Chs.14-15] (uncredited)
Vinegar Roan ... Dacoit 11 in Temple, Killed by Arrow [Chs.9-10] (uncredited)
Jack Roper ... Dacoit 10 Looking in Window [Ch.4] (uncredited)
Hector V. Sarno ... Scarred Native (uncredited)
Ernest Sarracino ... Dowlah Rao - Arrested Dacoit 9 [Ch.5] (uncredited)
Carl Sepulveda ... Mustachio'd Villainous Native [Chs.13-14] (uncredited)
Lee Shumway ... Police Lieutenant Corrigan at Wax Museum [Ch.5] (uncredited)
Robert R. Stephenson ... Tartar Si Fan Member [Chs.1,4,7-8,14] (uncredited)
Walter Stiritz ... Koomerow's Aide [Ch.13, background] (uncredited)
Harry Strang ... Police Lt. Wade at Winchester's Office [Ch.1] (uncredited)

George Suzanne ... Dacoit (uncredited)
Al Taylor ... Dacoit 8 at Headquarters, Howard's and Lee's [Chs.4-6] (uncredited)
Ken Terrell ... Shanghai St. / Wax Museum Dacoit 18 [Chs. 1, 5] (uncredited)
Evan Thomas ... Maj. Carlton [Chs.8,13-15] (uncredited)
Kam Tong ... Crawford's Manservant [Ch.7] (uncredited)
Michael Vallon ... Temple Guard [Chs.9-10] (uncredited)
Francis Walker ... Koomerow, Lhama's Emissary [Ch.13] (uncredited)
John Ward ... British Consul Wilson [Ch.7] (uncredited)
Frank Wayne ... Dacoit 14 with Microphone [Chs.10-12] (uncredited)

Ted Wells ... Dacoit 15 Wearing Hat [Chs. 11-13] (uncredited)
Bill Wilkus ... Dacoit 12 in Temple [Chs.9-10] (uncredited)
Henry Wills ... Tartar [Chs. 14-15] (uncredited)
Bob Woodward ... Tribesman (uncredited)
Bill Yrigoyen ... Hillsman with Knife [Chs.12-13] (uncredited)
Joe Yrigoyen ... Dacoit (uncredited)

Directed by
John English 
William Witney 
Writing credits
Sax Rohmer (book)

Franklin Adreon (original screenplay) and
Morgan Cox (original screenplay) (as Morgan B. Cox) and
Ronald Davidson (original screenplay) and
Norman S. Hall (original screenplay) and
Barney A. Sarecky (original screenplay) and
Sol Shor (original screenplay)

Produced by
Hiram S. Brown Jr. .... associate producer
Original Music by
Cy Feuer 
Karl Hajos (uncredited)
William Lava (uncredited)
Paul Sawtell (uncredited)
Cinematography by
William Nobles (photography)
Film Editing by
William P. Thompson  (as William Thompson)
Edward Todd 
Art Direction by
John Victor Mackay 
Set Decoration by
Morris Braun (uncredited)
Makeup Department
Bob Mark .... makeup supervisor (uncredited)
Production Management
Mack D'Agostino .... unit manager
Al Wilson .... production manager
Second Unit Director or Assistant Director
Louis Germonprez .... assistant director (uncredited)
Sound Department
Daniel J. Bloomberg .... sound (uncredited)
Charles L. Lootens .... sound (uncredited)
Special Effects by
Howard Lydecker .... special effects (uncredited)
Theodore Lydecker .... special effects (uncredited)
Tommy Coats .... stunts (uncredited)
James Fawcett .... stunts (uncredited)
Duke Green .... stunt double: George Pembroke (uncredited)
Bert LeBaron .... stunts (uncredited)
David Sharpe .... stunt double: Robert Kellard (uncredited)
Ken Terrell .... stunts (uncredited)
Ted Wells .... stunts (uncredited)
Henry Wills .... stunts (uncredited)
Bob Woodward .... stunts (uncredited)
Bill Yrigoyen .... stunts (uncredited)
Joe Yrigoyen .... stunts (uncredited)
Costume and Wardrobe Department
Adele Palmer .... wardrobe supervisor (uncredited)
Crew verified as complete

Production CompaniesDistributors

Additional Details

Also Known As:
269 min (15 chapters)
Aspect Ratio:
1.37 : 1 See more »
Sound Mix:
Mono (RCA High Fidelity Recording)
UK:U | USA:Approved | USA:Passed (National Board of Review)

Did You Know?

Chapter Titles: 1) Fu Manchu Strikes, 2) The Monster, 3) Ransom in the Sky, 4) The Pendulum of Doom, 5) The House of Terror, 6) Death Dials a Number, 7) Vengeance of the Si Fan, 8) Danger Trail, 9) The Crystal of Death, 10) Drums of Doom, 11) The Tomb of Genghis Khan, 12) Fire of Vengeance, 13) The Devil's Tattoo, 14) Satan's Surgeon, 15) RevoltSee more »
Movie Connections:
Referenced in Tiovivo c. 1950 (2004)See more »


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8 out of 11 people found the following review useful.
The Yellow Peril In Serial Style, 18 October 2005
Author: gftbiloxi ( from Biloxi, Mississippi

Sax Rohmer (1883-1859) was among the most popular novelists of the early 20th Century. He was particularly well known for his creation of the character Fu Manchu--a truly diabolical Chinese scientist who, along with his equally evil daughter Fa Lo See, sought world domination through the most vicious means possible. In the process, Rohmer virtually created the idea of "the yellow peril" in the American and European mind, and his distinctly racist characterizations would color Western concepts of the far East for half a century.

Rohmer's Fu Manchu has reached the screen on several occasions, perhaps most notably in an unexpectedly sadistic 1932 THE MASK OF FU MANCHU, starring Boris Karloff and Myrna Loy. The 1940 serial was directed by Republic Studio's reliable team of John English and William Witney, and at the time it was felt to propel the genre to a new height; in hindsight, however, it seems fairly obvious that English and Witney's SPY SMASHER and THE ADVENTURES OF CAPTAIN MARVEL are really the high water mark of Republic serials. Whatever the case, the directing team does indeed give this tale considerable style and drive.

The story is very linear: Fu Manchu (Henry Brandon) is aided by lethal daughter Fah-Lo-Suee (Gloria Franklin) and a host of mind-controlled henchmen in an effort to secure the scepter of Ghengis Kahn--and thereby fulfill an ancient prophecy that will cause all of Asia to rise up under his leadership and get rid of those wretched Anglo-Saxon types for once and all. Needless to say, the Anglo-Saxons, both English and American, take an extremely dim view of the whole thing and set out to thwart his evil designs.

The serial starts out extremely well, with a host of imaginative visuals bolstered by a host of equally imaginative tortures. Unfortunately, Henry Brandon's Fu Manchu proves considerably more interesting than any of the good guys who oppose him, and in consequence the whole thing looses steam long about the fifth chapter and doesn't really regain it until the final third. But Brandon's memorable performance, the often remarkable visual designs, and the impressive fight choreography does make it entertaining throughout--even if you do wind up rooting for Fu Manchu instead of Sir Dennis Naylund Smith (William Royle) and his incredibly tiresome friend Allan Parker (Robert Kellard), who are supposed to be the heroes of the piece.

The whole thing, of course, is just as racist as it can be, and the final chapter is appallingly so. But even though it may cause you to roll your eyes it remains a fun sort of thing for hardcore serial fans, who will likely enjoy it quite a bit. As for the DVD--the film has been remastered, but the picture is rather fuzzy and the sound occasionally muddy as well. The package contains a brief but entertaining and enlightening documentary (described as a commentary) by Richard Valley and a handful of cast biographies for good measure.

Gary F. Taylor, aka GFT, Amazon Reviewer

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