|The Mask of Fu Manchu (1932)
Running Time: 68 Minutes
Dir. Charles Brabin, Charles Vidor
Cast: Boris Karloff, Lewis Stone, Myrna Loy, Karen Morley
Genre: Adventure, Horror, Sci-Fi
Screening Time: Monday, July 17th at 7:00 p.m.
An expedition to the tomb of Genghis Khan angers mad killer Karloff and his deliciously evil daughter, Loy. A classic version of the old Sax Rohmer story.
Budget: $327,627 (estimated)
Toronto Film Society is back in the theatre! However, we’re still pleased to continue to bring you films straight to your home! Beginning Season 73 until now we have...
The Mask of Fu Manchu easily could have served as inspiration for Raiders of the Lost Ark. Archaeologists dashing to retrieve relic to save Western Civilization. Feats of derring-do. Scenes of despicable torture and heroic bravery. What makes this movie even better is in Raiders you know Dr. Jones will win. The Nazis are mere obstacles in his path to run over. But in this movie, Boris Karloff’s performance as the insidious Dr. Fu Manchu makes the Nazis seem like mere shadows of a threat compared to his evil genius. His Fu Manchu is a villain you not only fear, but respect. Myrna Loy as his daughter is wickedly good. While the sparks put off by Fu Manchu’s diabolical invention are impressive special effects, they are nothing in comparison to the sparks emitted by the young, scantily clad Myrna Loy.
This was a bit different with Boris Karloff playing an Asian "bad guy." He plays "Fu Manchu," and man who sets out to get Genghis Khan's mask and sword which supposedly will give him the power to rule over millions of people.
Despite the classic film casting of white people to play Asians, I found Karloff to be "cool" looking as was his evil daughter, a young Myrna Loy. I like Karen Morely, usually, but not in here where she plays an almost-hysterical daughter of one of the good guys.
"Fu Manchu" shows some of his unique methods of torture, nothing graphic, thankfully – not like today's blood and guts.
Some of this is amateurishly-done but overall it still a legitimate amount of real horror and terror and the cast certainly is entertaining. ("Andy Hardy" star Lewis Stone also is in here along with Jean Hersholt and Charles Starret.)
Summary: a decent and almost-mystical adventure story that doesn't overstay its welcome, either, at a tidy 68 minutes. Pretty good stuff.
Dr. Fu Manchu(Boris Karloff) is a ruthless oriental who desires to obtain the ceremonial mask and sword of Genghis Khan. He believes if he secures these two sacred items, his leadership over the hordes of Asia will exterminate the white race so that he will rule the world. Professor Von Berg (Jean Hersholt, radio veteran of "Poems That Touch the Heart") and Nayland Smith(Lewis Stone) of Scotland Yard try to prevent Fu Manchu from getting these important relics. These members are subject to murder and torture and are even sentenced to death in the crocodile pit. Fah Lo See(Myrna Loy,wife of Wm. Powell in the "Thin Man Series")is a very sexual daughter of Fu Manchu who wants to make a young expedition member Terry Granville(Charles Starrett) to be her slave for life. Boris Karloff spoke for the first time in his second career in this film after " Frankenstein". Sax Rohmer who wrote the novel wanted Karloff because of his natural lisp to make it sound like a snake-like hissing in his hateful role as Fu Manchu. It is a must see film and a great film classic for all generations.
THE MASK OF FU MANCHU has recently had several minutes of missing material restored to it, footage that has not been seen in decades. This longer cut of the film is currently enjoying a limited theatrical release, and it would be nice to see that followed by a DVD release. Probably one of the best of the films to be based on author Sax Rohmer’s stories (along with FACE OF FU MANCHU and DRUMS OF FU MANCHU), it would be nice to see a potential DVD release possibly include commentary by Boris Karloff’s daughter, Sara, or a look at the making of the film. Karloff commented in interviews that MASK was a troubled production, with constant changes to the script throughout the filming. In spite of that, the final film manages to capture the feel of the pulp tales that inspired it.