“The slightest move will send a bullet crashing through your stiff British spine.” What’s all this, then? Join this episode’s Grue-Crew – Whitney Collazo, Chad Hunt, Daphne Monary-Ernsdorff, and Jeff Mohr – as they discuss another pre-code vehicle for Boris Karloff, The Mask of Fu Manchu (1932).
Decades of Horror: The Classic Era
Episode 124 – The Mask of Fu Manchu (1932)
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Englishmen race to find the tomb of Genghis Khan before the sinister Fu Manchu does.IMDb
- Director: Charles Brabin
- Writers: Irene Kuhn, Edgar Allan Woolf, & John Willard (screenplay); Sax Rohmer (from the story by)
- Cinematography by: Tony Gaudio (photographed by)
- Costume Design by: Adrian (gowns)
- Makeup Department: Cecil Holland (makeup artist) (uncredited)
- Special Effects by:
- Boris Karloff as Dr. Fu Manchu
- Lewis Stone as Sir Denis Nayland Smith
- Karen Morley as Sheila Barton
- Charles Starrett as Terrence Granville
- Myrna Loy as Fah Lo See
- Jean Hersholt as Dr. Von Berg
- Lawrence Grant as Sir Lionel Barton
- David Torrence as McLeod
- C. Montague Shaw as Curator Dr. Fairgyle (uncredited)
- E. Alyn Warren as Goy Lo Sung (uncredited)
Chad is familiar with Fu Manchu as Shang-Chi’s father in The Hands of Shang-Chi: The Master of Kung Fu series of comics. When he saw that The Mask of Fu Manchu was available on the Classic Horror Movie Channel, he decided it was a good time to learn more about the genesis of the character and chose it for this episode. He describes the film as unquestionably racist and, as a pre-code film, it’s also a bit on the racy side. If, he promises, you’re able to get past the racism in The Mask of Fu Manchu, you’ll find a good adventure story that is reminiscent of the old serials.
Daphne is a fan of Myrna Loy from her appearances in the Thin Man series of films and loves the costumes she wears in The Mask of Fu Manchu. Even though the blatant racism makes it hard to watch, she enjoys the manufactured perils the characters are subjected to and finds it to be a fun adventure movie. For Whitney, the aesthetics are as wild as the adventure and really sucked her into The Mask of Fu Manchu. She is also glad Karloff uses his authentic voice rather than going for an Asian accent. Myrna Loy is a newfound love for Jeff and he points out that Karen Morley’s character figures out the danger before any of the other characters but no one listens to her warnings.
The talk of the yellow peril and conspiracies to destroy the white race aside, The Mask of Fu Manchu, with its alligator-pit perils and Strickfaden electromagic, is a fun ride. As of this writing, The Mask of Fu Manchu is available to stream from the Classic Horror Movie Channel and various PPV options.
Gruesome Magazine’s Decades of Horror: The Classic Era records a new episode every two weeks. Up next in their very flexible schedule is one chosen by Jeff: The War of the Worlds (1953)!
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