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"Shadows of the Orient" was originally (and still is) a Larry Darmour production made under the Empire Films banner in 1935 and released in August of 1935, although Motion Picture Herald did not review it until February of 1936. Following the reorganization of Monogram, after W. Ray Johnston, Scott R. Dunlap, Trem Carr and Paul Malvern broke away from their short stay at Republic Pictures, Monogram was in need of product to fill their exhibitor committments and picked up the film from whatever state-rights limbo it was in, and sent it back out on August 13, 1937 under a Monogram Pictures logo with nothing to indicate it was a re-issue of a two year-old film. Its first New York showing was at the Central Theatre on October 11, 1937, 27 months after initial release through the Empire exchanges, and it had lost three minutes from its original 68 minutes. The Foreword tells it all: "Since the passing of the Oriental Exclusion Act the smuggling of aliens has been constant. Although the smuggling is less than a few years ago, when Chinese were brought into the United States from Mexico in carlots, the traffic has by no means ceased, according to immigration officials. The length of the frontier and sparsely settled regions makes patrolling impossible. These smugglers have no regard for human life and resort to any means to accomplish their selfish ends. The boss of the ring, at this time, is receiving fifteen hundred dollars per head on safe delivery." This film's late 1937 "re-issue" release by Monogram may well be the reason that Esther Ralston used the name of Jane Carleton when she appeared in Universal's "Spy Ring" which was filmed in late 1937. The foreword is quite possibly the only time that the border connecting Mexico with Texas, New Mexico, California and Arizona was referred to as a frontier in the 20th century. —Les Adams <firstname.lastname@example.org>
A disappointingly dull 'actioner' here, that tells of evil Chinese smugglers (which, interestingly enough, are being stashed over the border in Mexico. All of this of course, is controlled by gangsters. A blonde socialite is soon caught up in all of this by getting wooed by the head honcho of this enterprise, who decides to use her for his own means. Luckily, the hotshot police detective hired to the case also has the hots for her.. I was actually surprised at how incompetent this movie was. Filled with boring dialogue, inane fight sequences, and gun fight sequences taken right out of the 'Police Squad' book of crimefighting,. But at least the beginning (where a pilot has a hilarious, and unexpected way to deal with unwanted cargo), and the ending, with it's plane chase (but not the ridiculous plane chase before it, where a plane with a machine gun can't shoot a plane down that's 10 feet in front of it) is interesting, but the rest is an unmitigated bore.
- Nov 26, 2005
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