Love Bound (1932)

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A beautiful and ruthless extortionist — does she have a heart?
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vt Murder on the High Seas
US / 61 minutes / bw / Peerless, Hollywood Film Exchange Dir: Robert F. Hill Pr: Al Herman Scr: Robert F. Hill, George Plympton Story: J. Gilbert Cine: E. Fox Walker Cast: Jack Mulhall, Natalie Moorhead, Clara Kimball Young, Edmund Breese, Tom Rickets (i.e., Tom Ricketts), Alice Day, Bill Mong, Montague Love, Dick Alexander, Roy D’Arcy, Lynton Brent, Gordon De Main, Sidney Bracey.

Attractive singer Verna Wilson (Moorhead) has just taken rich elderly magnate John Randolph (Love) to court to the tune of $100,000 for seducing her with false promises, and Randolph’s wife of thirty years, Jane (Young), is preparing to leave him because of his supposed infidelity and her abhorrence of scandal. But their son Dick (Mulhall) believes his father is innocent of impropriety and that Verna is a serial blackmailer who’s pulled off this sort of stunt before.

Natalie Moorhead as Verna.

He’s right.

Abetted by cheap gigolo type Juan de Leon (D’Arcy) and crooked lawyer Howell (Mong), Verna has made quite a career out of Continue reading

Mr. Wong, Detective (1938)

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Boris Karloff stars in a triple locked-room mystery!
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US / 69 minutes / bw / Monogram Dir: William Nigh Assoc pr: William Lackey Scr: Houston Branch Based on: characters created by Hugh Wiley in 12 stories published 1934–38 in Colliers Magazine Cine: Harry Neumann Cast: Boris Karloff, Grant Withers, Maxine Jennings, Evelyn Brent, George Lloyd, Lucien Prival, John St. Polis, William Gould, Hooper Atchley, John Hamilton, Wilbur Mack, Lee Tong Foo, Lynton Brent, Grace Wood, Frank Bruno, Wheaton Chambers.

mr-wong-detective-0a

The first of a series of six movies about the San Francisco PI James Lee Wong, created in print by Hugh Wiley; the first five movies starred Boris Karloff as Wong, while the sixth starred an actual Chinese-American in the role, Keye Luke. Depressingly, that sixth movie, Phantom of Chinatown (1940), flopped and so the series came to abrupt end. (When I get a chance, I’ll add it to this site. But it seemed silly to start watching a series with its final entry.)

I confess that for years I’ve avoided the Mr. Wong movies—as I generally do the Charlie Chan ones—because I find it just as creepy to watch a white actor play what I suppose we have to call Yellow Face as I do watching white actors play Black Face. I have to report, though, that the experience wasn’t as grueling as I’d expected. There is no mockery at all of Chinese culture or mannerisms. To the contrary, Wong is the most respected character in the movie; at one point the romantic lead compares the elderly Wong so favorably to her police-detective boyfriend—“Mr. Wong, it’s been such a pleasure meeting a detective with such charming manners”—that the cop’s eyes narrow in jealousy.

The Dayton Chemical Co. is planning to ship a consignment of toxic chemicals to Europe aboard the good ship Orinoco. The operation is spied upon by Lescardi (Bruno), an enforcer working for a pair of activists embedded in European politics, Anton Mohl (Prival), who goes by the name Baron von Krantz, and Olga Petroff (Evelyn Brent), who goes by the name Countess Dubois. They’re eager to divert Continue reading

Intruder, The (1933)

vt Horror in the Night
US / 54 minutes / bw / Allied Pictures Dir: Albert Ray Pr: M.H. Hoffman Scr: Frances Hyland Cine: Harry Neumann, Tom Galligan Cast: Monte Blue, Lila Lee, William B. Davidson, Gwen Lee, Arthur Housman, Sidney Bracy, Mischa Auer, Harry Cording, Wilfred Lucas, Lynton Brent, John Beck, Allan Cavan.

The Intruder (1933) - 0 opener

Belonging to a grade that requires an extension of the alphabet beyond the letter Z—arguably quite far beyond—this can’t seem to decide which horse to back: should it be a murder mystery or a castaways-on-a-jungle-island Tarzan riff? It ends up being a bit of both but, alas, not very much of either.

The ship the Intruder is weathering heavy seas when it’s reported to Captain Rush (Cavan) that there’s been a terrible murder. He rushes to the scene and finds that the dead man is being guarded by Detective-Lieutenant Samson (Davidson) of the San Francisco PD. The corpse was a jewel thief named Gardiner, and Samson has been on his trail—and that of a trove of diamonds he stole—for months. He instructs a ship’s officer to Continue reading