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Phantom of Chinatown (1940)
A Slight Case Of Murder... Solved by Jimmy Wong!
Director: Phil Rosen

In the middle of a pictorial lecture on his recent expedition to the Mongolian Desert, Dr. John Benton,the famous explorer, drinks from the water bottle on his lecture table, collapses and dies. His last words "Eternal Fire" are the only clue Chinese detective Jimmy Wong and Captain Street of the police department have to work on.

Phantom of Chinatown (1940)

Conspiratorial Filmmaking

I maintain that some very important conventions were worked out in 30s mysteries. The Charlie Chan series was instrumental in some of these, and this is the last of them. It incidentally has Charlie‘s son as the detective, the first Asian playing the character. The sensitivity to Chinese culture is no better than in the earlier movies, but that is a side issue for me. The wanted item here is a map to a vast oil deposit, discovered and stolen in the style of mummy movies.

The interesting device is the use of a movie within the movie. The expedition had a filmmaker along whose filming gets mixed with conspiracy. The ancient scroll gets destroyed and converted to photographs.

Posted in 2015

Ted’s Evaluation — 3 of 3: Worth watching.


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