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Mr. Wong, Detective (1938)

Passed | | Adventure, Crime, Drama | 5 October 1938 (USA)
When a chemical manufacturer is killed after asking detective James Wong to help him, Wong investigates this and two subsequent murders. He uncovers a international spy ring hoping to steal... See full summary »

Director:

William Nigh

Writers:

Houston Branch (screen play), Hugh Wiley (based on: the "James Lee Wong" series in Collier's Magazine written by)
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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Boris Karloff ... Mr. James Lee Wong
Grant Withers ... Captain Sam Street
Maxine Jennings ... Myra Ross
Evelyn Brent ... Olga aka Countess Dubois
George Lloyd ... Devlin
Lucien Prival ... Anton Mohl
John St. Polis ... Carl Roemer
William Gould ... Theodore Meisle
Hooper Atchley ... Christian Wilk
John Hamilton ... Simon Dayton
Wilbur Mack ... Russell
Lee Tung Foo Lee Tung Foo ... Tchin (as Lee Tong Foo)
Lynton Brent ... Tommy
Grace Wood Grace Wood ... Mrs. Roemer
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Storyline

When a chemical manufacturer is killed after asking detective James Wong to help him, Wong investigates this and two subsequent murders. He uncovers a international spy ring hoping to steal the formula for a poison gas being developed by the first victim's company. Written by Jim Beaver <jumblejim@prodigy.net>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

HIS HOBBY IS MURDER! Mr. Wong's main interest is solving murders - and he's an expert at it! Watch Collier's Magazine's famous Chinese sleuth trick a triple-killer into giving himself away...for the mystery thrill of you life! (original poster) See more »


Certificate:

Passed | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

5 October 1938 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Detektiven Mr Wong See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Monogram Pictures See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (copyright length)

Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

This was the first of five films in which Karloff played Oriental detective Mr. Wong. These films were essentially Monogram Pictures (a "Poverty Row" studio) attempting to knock off of Fox's popular Charlie Chan franchise. See more »

Goofs

Mr. Wong's servant waits on him on what we are told is his day off. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
Anton Mohl, aka Baron Von Krantz: You're going to get killed doing that, one of these days, Lescardi!
See more »

Connections

Followed by Phantom of Chinatown (1940) See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

The First and Best
28 March 2017 | by Michael_ElliottSee all my reviews

Mr. Wong, Detective (1938)

** 1/2 (out of 4)

A business man fears for his life so he pays a visit to Detective Wong (Boris Karloff). The next day the man is dead and a suspect is arrested but Wong isn't so sure they've got the right guy. Soon other murders are committed and it's up to Wong and Captain Street (Grant Withers) to try and solve them.

With the likes of Fu Manchu and Charlie Chan being so popular, Monogram decided to get in on the Asian characters and they ended up doing six Mr. Wong pictures, five with actor Boris Karloff. None of the films were all that great but there's no question that this first one was the best of the lot.

This one here benefits from a somewhat better than normal screenplay that offers up an interesting murder scheme and for the most part I thought it played out quite well and the ending was fun and believable. It also doesn't hurt that Karloff himself was so good in the role of Wong.

Yes, we can argue about a white actor playing an Asian character but this is how it was done back in the day, for better or worse. I thought Karloff was really good at playing the low-key and rather laid back character and even though he doesn't talk or move quickly, he's still very much entertaining. I also thought Withers was fun in the role of the typical Detective in these type of movies. You know, the tough guy whose toughness never gets anything done.

THe film certainly shows it's "B" quality production but there's no doubt that it's a mildly entertaining film.


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