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Phantom of Chinatown (1940)

Approved  |   |  Action, Crime, Drama  |  18 November 1940 (USA)
6.2
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Ratings: 6.2/10 from 270 users  
Reviews: 19 user | 7 critic

Detective James Lee Wong is on the scene as archaeologist Dr. John Benton, recently returned from an expedition in China where a valuable ancient scroll was recovered, is murdered while giving a lecture on the expedition.

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(screenplay) (as Joseph West) , (original story) (as Ralph Bettinson) , 1 more credit »
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Title: Phantom of Chinatown (1940)

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
...
...
Win Len
Grant Withers ...
Charles Miller ...
Dr. John Benton / Cyrus Benton in Newspaper (as Charles Miller)
Huntley Gordon ...
Dr. Norman Wilkes
Virginia Carpenter ...
Louise Benton
John Dilson ...
Charlie Frasier (as John H. Dilson)
Paul McVey ...
Detective Grady
John Holland ...
Mason
Richard Terry ...
Toreno (as Dick Terry)
Robert Kellard ...
Tommy Dean
Willy Castello ...
Jonas (as William Castello)
Lee Tung Foo ...
Foo
Edit

Storyline

In the middle of a pictorial lecture on his recent expedition to the Mongolian Desert, Dr. John Benton the famous explorer, drinks from the water bottle on his lecture table, collapses and dies. His last words "Eternal Fire" are the only clue Chinese detective Jimmy Wong and Captain Street of the police department have to work on. Win Lee, Benton's secretary, reveals the doctor's dying words refer to a scroll which tells the location of rich oil deposits. Wong and Street then begin the search for the killer among Benton's associates. Written by Les Adams <longhorn1939@suddenlink.net>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

A thousand suspects... 20 fingerprints... a Chinese temple... Mr. Wong solves a murder! See more »


Certificate:

Approved
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

18 November 1940 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Het spook van Chinatown  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Mirrophonic Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

This was the only Hollywood film of the period in which an Asian detective was played by, and top billing was given to, an actor (Keye Luke) who was actually Asian. See more »

Quotes

James Lee Wong: Greetings. Only the eyebrows of youth would have the temerity to call the beard of age at such an hour.
See more »

Connections

Follows Mr. Wong, Detective (1938) See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

 
Unheard Of
30 October 2008 | by (Buffalo, New York) – See all my reviews

As Boris Karloff moved on to bigger and better things in the horror film genre, the Mr. Wong series from Monogram got a final run with an actual person of Oriental heritage in the title role. Fascinating the mind set of Hollywood in those days.

And who would it have to be for, but a poverty row outfit like Monogram in one of their series films. Keye Luke who moviegoers knew better as the number one son of that other Chinese detective Charlie Chan, gets to play a younger version of that noted scholar and criminologist James Lee Wong. Luke plays him just as Boris Karloff did as a man who went to both Oxford and Heidelburg and did not speak in fortune cookie aphorisms.

But I'm sure it must have confused the living daylights out of the Mr. Wong audiences when the relationship between Wong and homicide police captain Street of the SFPD was so different. Grant Withers played Street in all the Wong films and he was not at all resentful about deferring to the older man's knowledge. The same way Captain Stottlemeyer defers to Adrian Monk on that show.

But with Luke, Withers is at first downright hostile, in fact this film of necessity is set back to when they first meet and Withers most reluctantly bows to Luke's skill for investigation.

The leader of an expedition to China where an ancient scroll was taken from a Ming Emperor's tomb is murdered while giving a lecture. And the scroll goes missing as well. There are a whole host of suspects, including a pilot that had been lost in the desert, but he turns up rather early in the film.

It might have been nice if Keye Luke had inaugurated the series instead of an Occidental like Karloff, good as he was. History could have been made.


6 of 7 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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