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Sunday, August 12, 2012

Movie: The Fatal Hour

The Fatal Hour
Starring Boris Karloff
1940

With Charlie Chan and Mr. Moto all the rage back in the day it's no surprise that enterprising movie bigwig types created yet another Asian detective, this one named James Lee Wong. The Fatal Hour is the fourth of six of these movies to be hammered out between 1938 and 1940. The first five starred Boris Karloff in the main role and the last starred Keye Luke (a very busy actor, who people in my generation probably know best as Master Po, from the Kung Fu TV series).

Let's consider the relative absurdity of Karloff playing an Asian detective for just one moment and then move on. Actually Karloff, racial identity issues aside, is probably the best thing about this rather dull movie. It concerns smuggling and a cop is killed, apparently while investigating said smuggling activities, and Wong is called in to help one of the cop's colleagues sort out the matter. And to tell you the truth, that's about all I got out of it, given that my mind tended to frequently wander as things unfolded. If you're a Karloff completist, maybe you'd want to check it out. Or not.

Here's a brief New York Times review from back when, in which the reviewer didn't think much more of this film than I did.

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