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Phantom of Chinatown (1940)

6.2
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Ratings: 6.2/10 from 234 users  
Reviews: 17 user | 6 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), (original story), 1 more credit »
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Title: Phantom of Chinatown (1940)

Phantom of Chinatown (1940) on IMDb 6.2/10

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
...
Grant Withers ...
Lotus Long ...
Win Len
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
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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:

Phantom of Chinatown  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Mirrophonic Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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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 The Mystery of Mr. Wong (1939) See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

 
surprising relevance today
6 August 2004 | by (Montreal) – See all my reviews

Poverty Row programmers like this may now seem incredibly hokey, but at the same time they're fascinating time capsules of American mores of those bygone (and maybe not so bygone) days. This one is routinely scripted and handled with little inspiration (though lots of pace), yet it's quite idiosyncratic for its time. Most obviously, a real Asian (Keye Luke, better known as Charlie Chan's Number One Son) is finally given the opportunity to play an Asian detective. The screenwriters certainly take advantage of the unique casting, turning a lot of the expected racially-insensitive material on end -- Luke gets in a real zinger when he brashly compares the looting of a Mongolian sarcophagus to having a Chinese adventurer dig up and purloin George Washington's corpse from its tomb. Also relevant to the 21st century is the fact that the tomb raiders are not so much seeking the legendary Eternal Flame for cultural or historic reasons, but due to the conjecture that it is produced by a hidden treasure trove of priceless oil. Quite refreshing attitudes for a 40s B-movie, with some vivid scenes of Chinatown life and interesting travelogue footage of a seemingly authentic excursion to Northern China.


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