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Phantom of Chinatown (1940)

Approved | | Action, Crime, Drama | 18 November 1940 (USA)
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.

Director:

Writers:

(screenplay) (as Joseph West), (original story) (as Ralph Bettinson) | 1 more credit »
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Cast

Complete credited cast:
...
...
Win Len
...
Charles Miller ...
Dr. John Benton / Cyrus Benton in Newspaper (as Charles Miller)
Huntley Gordon ...
Dr. Norman Wilkes
Virginia Carpenter ...
Louise Benton
...
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
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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
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The last of the six-film series, and the only one not to star Boris Karloff, replaced by Keye Luke. Monogram owed the distributors one more Wong feature, and had completed Karloff's six-picture contract with the horror film The Ape (1940). 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

Edited into Who Dunit Theater: Phantom of Chinatown (2015) See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

 
Even without Karloff, Phantom of Chinatown is still one of the better films of the Mr Wong series
2 March 2014 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

The 6 Mr Wong films(five of which with Boris Karloff in the title role) are not great films, however they are all far from bad either. Phantom of Chinatown may not have Karloff but it is for whatever foibles it has one of the better films in the series. The photography can lack finesse in places while the film is scripted competently if routinely though with a fair few bright spots. And Grant Withers still doesn't do much for me, going for shouting his lines and frozen facial expressions, though not quite as badly as in Mr Wong in Chinatown, rather than subtlety. The sets are very nicely done though, and the music score is jaunty and eerie as to expect. There is some humour here and it manages to be of the funny and witty kind, the Chinese treasures and Washington Bones comparison agreed is the most inspired. The story is not exceptional but it is diverting and has a good deal of mystery and suspense. It also doesn't try to do too much so it is not as convoluted as a couple of Karloff's entries were, especially Mr Wong in Chinatown(you may have guessed already that that it is my least favourite of the 6, though it's still not a bad film). Luckily too, despite there being the risk of being there Chinese are portrayed sympathetically and any stereotyping(if any at all) is equally tastefully done, nothing at all to be offended at. Phantom of Chinatown moves along at a brisk pace, so the film was never a dull watch. Keye Luke may not be as enigmatic as Karloff but he for obvious reasons is still much more convincing as a Chineseman. He had big shoes to fill and fills them admirably, giving a very charming and sometimes amusing performance. Lotus Long is also wonderfully mysterious, and while not of the outstanding kind the supporting cast are competent at the least. To conclude, a decent film and one of the better Mr Wong films, even without Karloff. 7/10 Bethany Cox


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