36 user 17 critic

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 »


William Nigh


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




Complete credited cast:
Boris Karloff ... Mr. James Lee Wong
Grant Withers ... Capt. Sam Street
Maxine Jennings 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


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


The most ingenious crime even conceived...but the killer hadn't counted on the crafty Mr. Wongs as his adversary! (original poster) See more »


Passed | See all certifications »

Did You Know?


The earliest documented telecasts of this film took place in Cincinnati Friday 23 December 1949 on WKRC (Channel 11), and in New York City Friday 11 August 1950 on the Night Owl Theatre on WPIX (Channel 11). See more »


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


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


Featured in Film Breaks: Detectives from the Orient (1999) See more »

User Reviews

Boris Karloff: The Debut of Mr Wong
22 November 2013 | by TheLittleSongbirdSee all my reviews

From memory the Mr Wong films were fun if not mind-blowingly great, though they most likely weren't trying to be. Any film that has Boris Karloff in is worth a shot, and Mr Wong, Detective is not an exception. Some scenes are poorly lit and with unfocused editing, the film does have some dull stretches that could have benefited from tighter scripting and while mostly entertaining and with a character that is nicely contrasted to the character of Mr Wong Grant Withers can go overboard with the shouting. The sets are good though and match the atmosphere and mystery well, while the script on the most part is snappy and the story is diverting and fun with a clever killing method and a particularly gripping final 10-15 minutes. The direction isn't award-worthy but it was decent, and the acting likewise. Boris Karloff is one of those actors who always did his best with what he had regardless of the quality(and he did have films, especially in the later years, that were beneath him material-wise)- Vincent Price and Tim Curry are other examples of this. He is served well, and while not exactly convincing as Chinese he commands the screen brilliantly, carrying the film with no trouble. Overall, not great but not bad at all. Not a must-see but it is worth the look and for more than curiosity value. 7/10 Bethany Cox

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Frequently Asked Questions

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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


| (copyright length)

Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »

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