Shadow of Chinatown [Serial]

Shadow of Chinatown [Serial]

Director: Robert F. Hill

Cast: Joan Barclay, Herman Brix, William Buchanan

     
 

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Notorious Hollywood tightwad Sam Katzman's first serial, Shadow of Chinatown stars Bela Lugosi as Victor Poten, a Eurasian with a destructive hatred of both whites and Asians hired by Sonya Rokoff (Luana Walters) to ruin the tourist trade in San Francisco's Chinatown. But, as Sonya discovers and Poten himself acknowledges, she has inadvertently created a

Overview

Notorious Hollywood tightwad Sam Katzman's first serial, Shadow of Chinatown stars Bela Lugosi as Victor Poten, a Eurasian with a destructive hatred of both whites and Asians hired by Sonya Rokoff (Luana Walters) to ruin the tourist trade in San Francisco's Chinatown. But, as Sonya discovers and Poten himself acknowledges, she has inadvertently created a seemingly unstoppable "Frankenstein's monster." The forces of good opposing Poten and Rokoff include Martin Andrews (Herman Brix, aka Bruce Bennett), a novelist specializing in all things Oriental, sob-sister-turned-crime-reporter Joan Whiting (Joan Barclay), and Chinese houseboy Willy Fu (Hawaiian crooner Maurice Liu). Sonya Rokoff, whose allegiance to the madman quickly comes under some strain, is destroyed by a falling chandelier in Chapter 14, but Victor survives to be carted off to jail in the 15th and final chapter, "The Avenging Powers." Shadow of Chinatown was filmed in two weeks in Culver City, CA, and on rental stages at Hollywood's Talisman Studios. A slightly altered feature version in which Lugosi's character is killed off in the final reel was released simultaneously.

Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide - Hans J. Wollstein
Shadow of Chinatown is, in all candor, the cheapest looking, most threadbare of all the independently produced sound serials. Thanks to Bela Lugosi's ripe performance as the ace villain Victor Poten, it is in some ways also the most amusing. Unlike his rival, Boris Karloff, Lugosi was apparently unable to sleepwalk through a role no matter how ridiculously shabby the story line and setting, and he adds the same menace and sense of showmanship here as he had in Dracula five years earlier. Despite lackluster writing (by, among others, director Robert F. Hill, who cleverly hides behind the pseudonym of Rock Hawkey), abysmal production values, and amateurish supporting performances, Lugosi heroically delivers his lines with all the tormented darkness of his Transylvanian soul. Former Tarzan Herman Brix (who would become Bruce Bennett in grade-A pictures for Warner Bros. in the 1940s) does well enough as the stalwart but somewhat dense hero, and B-Western regular Charles King is capital as a lovesick henchman; but Joan Barclay makes little sense as the overly dim girl reporter, and Luana Walters comes across as a road company Gale Sondergaard as the ubiquitous Dragon Lady. Shadow of Chinatown was released by Sam Katzman's Victory Pictures and survives in a rather battered print. The sound, however, was probably no worse when the serial first premiered back in 1936, Katzman being notoriously stingy with production values.

Product Details

Release Date:
02/20/2001
UPC:
0688321202220
Original Release:
1936
Rating:
NR
Source:
Whirlwind Media
Region Code:
0
Presentation:
[B&W]
Sound:
[Dolby Digital, monaural]
Time:
4:40:00

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Joan Barclay Joan Whiting
Herman Brix Martin Andrews
William Buchanan Healy
Maurice Liu Willy Fu
Bela Lugosi Victor Poten
Luana Walters Sonya Rokoff
Charles King Grogan
Forrest Taylor Captain Walters
Jack Cowell "White Chink"
James B. Leong Wong
Harry Tung Dr. Wu
Paul Fung Tom Chu
George Chan Old Luee
Moy Ming Charlie Wong
Harrison Greene Mayor Foley
Henry Hall Dr. Zander
Roger Williams Editor Harrison
John Elliott Steamship captain
Lester Dorr Steamship ticket clerk
Richard Loo Loo
Denver Dixon Henchman
Robert F. Hill Man in street

Technical Credits
Robert F. Hill Director,Screenwriter
Isadore Bernstein Screenwriter
Basil Dickey Screenwriter
Charles Henkel Editor
William Hyer Cinematographer
Sam Katzman Producer
Fred Preble Art Director
Marty Ramson Screenwriter
Edward W. Rote Production Manager
Lee Zahler Musical Direction/Supervision

Scene Index

Side #1 -- Disc 1
0. Chapters 1-9
1. The Arms Of The God [26:14]
2. The Crushing Walls [16:59]
3. 13 Ferguson Alley [17:47]
4. Death On The Wire [16:57]
5. The Sinister Ray [10:13]
6. The Sword Thrower [6:13]
7. The Noose [17:24]
8. Midnight [21:28]
9. The Last Warning [17:30]
Side #2 -- Disc 2
0. Chapters 10-15
1. The Bomb [19:57]
2. Thundering Doom [18:29]
3. Invisible Gas [18:21]
4. The Brink Of Disaster [18:24]
5. The Fatal Trap [18:24]
6. The Avenging Powers [17:50]

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