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Phantom of Chinatown (1940) More at IMDbPro »

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Up 27% in popularity this week. See why on IMDbPro.
George Waggner (screenplay)
Ralph Gilbert Bettison (original story)
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Release Date:
18 November 1940 (USA) See more »
A thousand suspects... 20 fingerprints... a Chinese temple... Mr. Wong solves a murder! See more »
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. Full summary » | Add synopsis »
Plot Keywords:
User Reviews:
Even without Karloff, Phantom of Chinatown is still one of the better films of the Mr Wong series See more (18 total) »


  (in credits order) (verified as complete)

Keye Luke ... James Lee 'Jimmy' Wong

Lotus Long ... Win Len
Grant Withers ... Capt. Street
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
rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Lynton Brent ... Radio News Broadcaster (uncredited)
Jack Cheatham ... Stakeout Cop (uncredited)
Heinie Conklin ... Detective in Refrigerator (uncredited)
William Gould ... Policeman (uncredited)
Bruce Mitchell ... Police Officer Stationed at Front Door (uncredited)
William J. O'Brien ... Extra in Audience at Benton's Lecture (uncredited)
Victor Wong ... Charley Won (uncredited)

Directed by
Phil Rosen 
Writing credits
George Waggner (screenplay) (as Joseph West)

Ralph Gilbert Bettison (original story) (as Ralph Bettinson)

Hugh Wiley (characters from "James Lee Wong" series in Collier's Magazine)

Produced by
Paul Malvern .... producer
Original Music by
Edward J. Kay  (as Edward Kay)
Cinematography by
Fred Jackman Jr. (director of photography)
Film Editing by
Jack Ogilvie 
Art Direction by
Charles Clague 
Second Unit Director or Assistant Director
Mack V. Wright .... assistant director (uncredited)
Art Department
Dave Milton .... interior decorator (as David Milton)
Sound Department
William R. Fox .... sound director (as William Fox)
Crew verified as complete

Production CompaniesDistributorsSpecial Effects

Additional Details

Also Known As:
62 min
Aspect Ratio:
1.37 : 1 See more »
Sound Mix:
Mono (Western Electric Mirrophonic Recording)
USA:Approved (PCA #6779)

Did You Know?

Possibly the very first instance where Hollywood produced a 'prequel,' because this last entry in the series depicts the first meeting between Mr. Wong and Capt. Street.See more »
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 »
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What is notable about this film?
Is this available on DVD?
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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful.
Even without Karloff, Phantom of Chinatown is still one of the better films of the Mr Wong series, 2 March 2014
Author: TheLittleSongbird from United Kingdom

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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