Wallace Ford steals the show in Lugosi's first film for Mono
Daniel Jolley | Shelby, North Carolina USA | 12/29/2009
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Following the success of Mask of Fu Manchu [VHS] (starring Boris Karloff) in 1932, Monogram Studios sought to exploit MGM's success with their own Yellow Peril-inspired film. And so it was that a down-on-his-luck Bela Lugosi donned the Oriental dress and stereotypical Fu Manchu mustache of Mr. Wong, a megalomaniacal madman bent on seizing full control of the Chinese province of Keelat. All he needs is to get his hands on the twelve coins of Confucius, for legend decrees that the holder of all twelve coins (even if it's a Chinaman with a Hungarian accent) will be granted the power to seize and control Keelat. The fact that Chinamen are dropping like flies on a daily basis is little more than an annoyance to the police, so the lion's share of the crime solving falls upon sharp-witted, fast-talking newspaper reporter Jason Barton (Wallace Ford), who manages to find and pursue a clue that leads him inexorably toward Wong and his power-hungry, murderous plans.
The real mystery here is how several of Confucius' coins ended up in the hands of relatively poor shop owners and laundrymen in China Town. Obviously, this wasn't the best plan for keeping the coins separate and hidden, for Mr. Wong finds them with little trouble and sends his henchmen out to forcibly retrieve them. Hidden away behind a secret identity and a network of secret passages, he appears to be safe from the likes of the local Irish cop and even Keelat's own secret service agents - but not from a nosy reporter who isn't even intimidated by a verbally dazzling barrage of "maybes." (OK, you really have to see the movie to know what I'm talking about here - sorry about that.)
Yes, this is a Monogram studio release, but don't let that scare you off. While Monogram's cache of low-budget B movies is hardly impressive as a whole, The Mysterious Mr. Wong is a very entertaining film (and far better than most of the later films Lugosi would make with this Poverty Row studio). While miscast, Bela Lugosi turns in his usual great performance (in something of a dual role, no less), while Wallace Ford is nothing short of delightful as the eminently quotable and disarmingly persistent news hawk determined to get to the bottom of the story. Barton's knack for witty repartee is front and center throughout, and his girl Peg (Arline Judge) more than holds her own in the same regard when he gets her mixed up in his dangerous investigation, as well. The banter isn't on the level of His Girl Friday, but it's some really good stuff. You certainly don't have to be a Bela Lugosi fan to enjoy The Mysterious Mr. Wong."
"15 Frightful Horror Films ... Bela Lugosi ... Passport Vide
J. Lovins | Missouri-USA | 10/15/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Passport Video presents "The Bela Lugosi Box - 15 Frightful Films" (1942) --- (Dolby digitally remastered) --- Béla Lugosi was the stage name of actor Béla Ferenc Dezs Blaskó (October 20, 1882 - August 16, 1956) --- Lugosi was born in Lugos, Hungary, at the time part of Austria-Hungary (now Lugoj, Romania), the youngest of four children of a baker --- best known for his portrayal of "Dracula" in the American Broadway stage production, and subsequent film, of Bram Stoker's classic vampire story.
Late in his life, he again received star billing in movies when filmmaker Edward D. Wood, Jr., a fan of Lugosi, found him living in obscurity and near-poverty and offered him roles in his films, such as "GLEN OR GLENDA?" (1953) (in which his role made no more sense than the rest of the movie) and as a Dr. Frankenstein-like mad scientist in "BRIDE OF THE MONSTER" (1955), during post-production of the latter, Lugosi entered treatment for his addiction, and the premier of the film was ostensibly intended to help pay for his treatment expenses. The extras on an early DVD release of "PLAN 9 FROM OUTER SPACE" (1959) include an impromptu interview with Lugosi upon his exit from the treatment center, which provide some rare personal insights into the man --- this was one of Lugosi's most infamous roles was released after he was dead. Ed Wood (Director) features footage of Lugosi interspersed with a double --- Wood had taken a few minutes of silent footage of Lugosi, in his Dracula cape, for a planned vampire picture but was unable to find financing for the project --- Wood later conceived of Plan 9, Wood wrote the script to incorporate the Lugosi footage and hired his wife's chiropractor to double for Lugosi in additional shots --- notice however the "double" is thinner than Lugosi, and covers the lower half of his face with his cape in every shot --- Leonard Maltin (Famous Film Critic) was quoted - "Lugosi died during production, and it shows."
Lugosi died of a heart attack on August 16, 1956 while lying in bed in his Los Angeles home. He was 73 --- Bela Lugosi was buried wearing one of the many capes from the Dracula stageplay, as per the request of his son and fifth wife, in the Holy Cross Cemetery in Culver City, California --- Contrary to popular belief, Lugosi never requested to be buried in his famous cloak; Bela Lugosi, Jr. has confirmed on numerous occasions that he and his mother, Lillian, arrived at their decision independently.
1. Bela Lugosi (aka: Béla Ferenc Dezsõ Blaskó)
Date of birth: 20 October 1882 - Lugos, Austria-Hungary. [now Lugoj, Romania]
Date of death: 16 August 1956 - Los Angeles, California
2. Edward D. Wood Jr. (Director, Writer and Producer)
Date of birth: 10 October 1924 - Poughkeepsie, New York
Date of death: 10 December 1978 - North Hollywood, California
This collection of "The Bela Lugosi Box - 15 Frightful Films" (1942) --- still has the magic that we remember from those bygone years --- but as long as we have the labels and networks who play and show these wonderful films of yesteryear, they will never be forgotten ... Plus the half-hour tribute "100 Years of Horror: Bela Lugosi", hosted by Christopher Lee --- and a great job by Passport Video for this release --- looking forward to more of the same from the '20s and '50s vintage...order your copy now from Amazon or Passport Video, stay tuned once again for more remarkable films from the vaults of classic television and Hollywood during the Golden Era of Entertaiment.
Total Time: 1034 mins on DVD ~ Passport Video #5260 ~ (9/05/2006)"