The Mysterious Mr. Wong (1934)

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The Mysterious Mr. Wong (1934) Poster

Investigating a series of murders in Chinatown, wise-guy reporter Jason Barton is captured by the megalomaniacal Mr. Wong, desperately trying to complete his collection of the twelve gold ... See full summary »

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4.8/10
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  • Bela Lugosi in The Mysterious Mr. Wong (1934)
  • Bela Lugosi in The Mysterious Mr. Wong (1934)
  • The Mysterious Mr. Wong (1934)
  • Bela Lugosi in The Mysterious Mr. Wong (1934)
  • The Mysterious Mr. Wong (1934)
  • The Mysterious Mr. Wong (1934)

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Cast & Crew

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Director:

William Nigh

Writers:

Harry Stephen Keeler (suggested by the story: "The Twelve Coins of Confucius"), Lew Levenson (adaptation), Nina Howatt (screen play), James Herbuveaux (additional dialogue)

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User Reviews


16 February 2006 | aimless-46
6
| A Lot of Fun
Bela Lugosi changes genres in 1934's "The Mysterious Mr. Wong"; a detective mystery set in LA's Chinatown. As Li See he is the low profile owner of a herb shop patronized for comic relief by a stereotypical Irish cop. But he is secretly the title character who will stop at nothing to gather all twelve of the Coins of Confucius. Once he has all twelve he will have special powers in Keelat (a Chinese province) from where he apparently can inflict his evil on a wider scale.

All these coins have found there way to 1930's LA for some reason and Wong's minions spend the first part of the movie murdering assorted Chinese characters to gain possession of each coin. You quickly learn which guys are his minions because they are the only ones in the movie who wear "Billy Jack" style flat brim hats.

Newspaper reporter Jason Barton (Wallace Ford) begins to investigate the murders, both alone and in the company of his paper's cute and plucky switchboard operator Peg (Arline Judge). Judge becomes one of the earliest scream queens as talking pictures had only been around a few years. The chemistry and banter between Ford and Judge is the best thing about "The Mysterious Mr. Wong". It is the equal of Gable and Colbert in "It Happened One Night" but unfortunately their scenes together are not the central focus of the story.

Wong has a beautiful niece (played by Lotus Long) who periodically appears in short scenes of no actual consequence to the plot. She is in a constant state of great distress about her uncle's evil activities and it is implied that Wong kills her after she leads Barton and Peg to him.

The movie never explains why Wong regards this as a bad thing because it appears to be exactly what he wanted her to do. But this is an illustration of many logic problems in the screenplay, which are best ignored. Just enjoy the great dialogue despite the flaws in storyline logic. Some stuff essential to the plot was probably trimmed to reduce the running time. Barton and Peg are given one of the coins by a disembodied hand while they are having dinner in a Chinese restaurant. Viewers have to fill in a lot of missing action to connect this improbable coincidence with earlier events.

The Hollywood racist and ethnic stereotypes abound, my favorite is a Chinese university professor who heads up the Department of Orientology.

Lugosi is sinister in a nice self-parodying way, with an accent that is more vaguely foreign than Chinese. His Mr. Wong is entirely unrelated to Boris Karloff's later detective series of the same name.

If you enjoy early cinema this one is highly recommended. The suspense won't keep you on the edge of your seat but the Ford and Judge interplay is timeless

Then again, what do I know? I'm only a child.

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