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Doomed to Die

USA 1940
produced by
Monogram Pictures
directed by William Nigh
starring Boris Karloff, Grant Withers, Marjorie Reynolds, William Stelling, Catherine Craig, Guy Usher, Henry Brandon, Melvin Lang, Wilbur Mack, Kenneth Harlan, Richard Loo
based on characters created by Hugh Wiley

Mister Wong

review by
Mike Haberfelner

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After the steamer Wentworth Carstle has sunk due to an onboard fire, old man Wentworth (Melvyn Lang), owner of the Wentworth Steamline corp. is devastated - but not devastated enough to sell out to his competitor old man Fleming (Guy Usher), or give his daughter Cynthia's (Catherine Craig) hand in marriage to Fleming's son Dick (William Stelling). But when Dick is still asking Wentworth to change his mind, Wentworth is shot - & even Dick's father, who was in just the next room when it happened, has to admit he knew his son was with Wentworth when he died.

Captain Street (Grant Withers) is of course quick to arrest Dick, but ever meddling girl reporter Bobbie Logan (Marjorie Reynolds) has other ideas & brings Oriental super sleuth Mister Wong (Boris Karloff) onto the scene.

Wong soon discovers a plot by the Chinese Tong to smuggle gold into the country that has to do with the sunk steamliner Wntworth Castle, & with Kai Ling, a Chinese butler of the Wentworth household who has disappeared ... but soon turns up dead, murdered - & what's more, Dick is the prime suspect inb that case, too.

But soon other suspects turn up as well, including Wentworth's crooked assistant Matthews (Wilbur Mack) - who has seen Fleming hiding the murder weapon of Wentwoth's killing & blackmails him with it -, Ludlow (Kenneth Harlan), the suspuicious ex-chjaffeur of the Wentworths who occasionally does a little breaking in of his own, & attorney Martin (Henry Brandon), who is just a little too slick to be all that innocent.

In the finale, Dick e3scapes police custody with the help of Bobbie Logan, & old man Fleming, to save his son from the gallows, decides to take the blame for the Wentworth killing -. but is only met with a bullet for his efforts.

In the end, Wong reveals everything to have been an elaborate plot by chauffeur Ludlow & attorney Martin to get their hands on Kai Ling's Tong-gold - but they have proved no match for Mister Wong.

 


As a murder mystery, this movie is somewhat over-convoluted, as many of its elements make little sense in the broader context, & again Boris Karloff, despite another fine performance, fails to convince as a Chinaman. Apart from that though, this is a quick-moving whodunnit, with Marjorie Reynolds' (her third appearance in a Mister Wong movie) quick-talking girl reporter & her snappy exchange with Grant Withers again contributing largely to the finished product.

Incidently, this was the second to last Mister Wong-movie, & of the series' central regulars only Grant Withers would make it into the final entry, Phantom of Chinatown (the Oriental sleuth would then be played by Keye Luke - finally a Chinese playing a Chinese -, & there would be no girl reporter in sight).

 

review © by Mike Haberfelner

 

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Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

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Tales to Chill
Your Bones to
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a collection of short stories and mini-plays
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tales that will give you a chill and maybe a chuckle, all thought up by
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screenwriter and film reviewer
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Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

the new anthology by
Michael Haberfelner

 

Out now from
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On the same day
a Burglar wants to kill you
and your Ex wants
to make up ...
... and for the life of it,
you can't decide
WHICH IS WORSE!!!

 

A Killer Conversation

produced by and starring
Melanie Denholme
directed by
David V.G. Davies
written by
Michael Haberfelner
starring
Ryan Hunter and
Rudy Barrow

out now on DVD