Release Date: Unknown by EASTWESTDVD.com
Another looong DVD Review by Joe Torcivia
(Imagine getting so much “Public Domain Goodness” just for showing up and answering a question! Life really does have its occasional rewards!)
|I'm the "evil one"! Surprised?|
|Lugosi as Mr. Wong.|
|I've got ELEVEN! Do I hear TWELVE?|
Good thing for Tsi Tung he runs into movie-typical wise-guy newspaper reporter “Jason H. Barton” (Wallace Ford, better known as the “Sort-of-Quasi-Costello” to Dick Foran’s “Sort-of-Quasi-Abbott” in Universal’s 1940 classic “The Mummy’s Hand” and its 1942 sequel “The Mummy’s Tomb”) who takes up the case in the interests of getting The Big Scoop.
|Barton and Peg book "Passage" to the House of Wong!|
|...Or a snappy BACK cover?|
|If you'd only listened to ME, Bela!|
|Yes, Boris... It might have ALL been different... Alas!|
And, from the “Better Late Than Never Department”, it must be noted that there was a SIXTH Detective Wong picture. “Phantom of Chinatown” (1940) followed the Karloff Wong series, with well-known Asian actor Keye Luke assuming the role of Wong! Oddly, Luke may have been best known at the time for his superbly energetic role as Charlie Chan’s “Number One Son – Lee” over the course of that series at Fox.
James Lee Wong, as played by Boris Karloff, is an Oxford-educated sleuth who speaks without the faintest trace of an accent, save the British intonations that naturally emanate from Karloff himself. Wong is simultaneously a gentlemanly sophisticate (as was Karloff in real-life) and a pleasant sort, often resorting to seemingly self-synthesized aphorisms such as:
“He rests well, who dines well!” and “A request from a friend is virtually a command!”
|Is he calling Mr. Wong?|
|Great Caesar's Ghost! WHO'S Frantic?!|
Was it Dayton’s partners, Christian Wilk and Theodore Meisle, who, mere moments ago, had mutually signed an amendment to their partnership – declaring that, if any partner should die, the surviving partner(s) will assume all aspects and assets of the business?
|It could be ANY ONE OF THESE GUYS, except Karloff!|
It could be three shady characters (a bogus Baron, a phony Countess, and a plain old thug) working in the service of a foreign government, with an interest in poison chemicals. Though, it’s difficult to discern if they want the poisons for their own employer-nation, or if they’re just trying to keep them out of the hands of a rival government. Either way, they’re up to no good!
|...Or, perhaps *I* did it!|
|Did they take comfort in knowing the director was always "NIGH"?|
Both Wong pictures on this disc were directed by William Nigh, who helmed all five of the Karloff Wong efforts.
Needless to say, no subtitles – which WOULD have come in handy, as I watched this with the background hum of my living room air conditioner in full force to further obscure the soundtrack. Though, under the same (air) conditions, I was able to hear the Karloff film without any difficulty – the audio issues seemed more or less confined to the Lugosi film. Indeed, the Karloff film fares far better overall, in terms of both sound and picture quality.