The Mask of Fu Manchu (1932)

66-67 mins | Melodrama | 5 November 1932

Cinematographer:

Tony Gaudio

Editor:

Ben Lewis

Production Designer:

Cedric Gibbons

Production Company:

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Corp.
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HISTORY

Sax Rohmer's novel was serialized in Colliers (7 May--23 Jul 1932). According to various news items in HR , the film began production under the direction of Charles Vidor in early Aug 1932, with a script by Courtenay Terrett. On the third day of production, filming stopped for several days, then resumed on 11 Aug, when it was reported that Raoul Whitfield was to write the screenplay. On 13 Aug, a news item reported that M-G-M had decided to bring in Charles Brabin to work on the picture along with Vidor; however, on 17 Aug HR reported that Vidor had been fired and that Brabin would be sole director commencing the next day. At that time, Bayard Veiller was announced as Terrett's replacement. As Irene Kuhn, Edgar Allan Woolf and John Willard are the only writers credited on screen and in reviews, it has not been determined what contributions of Terrett, Veiller and Whitfield were retained in the released film. Production charts also include Gertrude Michael, Herbert Bunston and Oswald Marskall in the cast, but their participation in the completed film has not been determined. According to additional news items, Boris Karloff was borrowed from Universal for the film and needed two-and-one-half hours in make-up each day for his role. Other films based on Sax Rohmer's character include the 1923 British picture Cry of the Night Hawk , the 1929 Paramount film The Mysterious Dr. Fu Manchu , directed by Rowland V. Lee and starring Warner Oland and Jean Arthur (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1921-30 ; F2.3760), a 1956 television series called ... More Less

Sax Rohmer's novel was serialized in Colliers (7 May--23 Jul 1932). According to various news items in HR , the film began production under the direction of Charles Vidor in early Aug 1932, with a script by Courtenay Terrett. On the third day of production, filming stopped for several days, then resumed on 11 Aug, when it was reported that Raoul Whitfield was to write the screenplay. On 13 Aug, a news item reported that M-G-M had decided to bring in Charles Brabin to work on the picture along with Vidor; however, on 17 Aug HR reported that Vidor had been fired and that Brabin would be sole director commencing the next day. At that time, Bayard Veiller was announced as Terrett's replacement. As Irene Kuhn, Edgar Allan Woolf and John Willard are the only writers credited on screen and in reviews, it has not been determined what contributions of Terrett, Veiller and Whitfield were retained in the released film. Production charts also include Gertrude Michael, Herbert Bunston and Oswald Marskall in the cast, but their participation in the completed film has not been determined. According to additional news items, Boris Karloff was borrowed from Universal for the film and needed two-and-one-half hours in make-up each day for his role. Other films based on Sax Rohmer's character include the 1923 British picture Cry of the Night Hawk , the 1929 Paramount film The Mysterious Dr. Fu Manchu , directed by Rowland V. Lee and starring Warner Oland and Jean Arthur (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1921-30 ; F2.3760), a 1956 television series called The Adventures of Fu Manchu , starring Glen Gordon, and a 1980 British comedy directed by Piers Haggard, starring Peter Sellers, called The Fiendish Plot of Dr. Fu Manchu . According to a news item in DV on 1 May 1972, the Japanese-American Citizens League asked M-G-M to remove The Mask of Fu Manchu from its catalog because it was "offensive and demeaning to Asian Americans"; however, the film was not removed from circulation. More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
1-May-72
---
Film Daily
3 Dec 32
p. 4.
HF
13 Aug 32
p. 8.
Hollywood Reporter
1 Aug 32
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
4 Aug 32
p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter
8 Aug 32
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
12 Aug 32
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
13 Aug 32
p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter
17 Aug 32
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
22 Aug 32
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
23 Aug 32
p. 7.
Hollywood Reporter
24 Aug 32
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
6 Sep 32
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
6 Dec 32
p. 2.
New York Times
3 Dec 32
p. 21.
Variety
6 Dec 32
p. 15.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXT
A Cosmopolitan Production
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
PHOTOGRAPHY
Photog
ART DIRECTOR
Art dir
FILM EDITOR
Film ed
COSTUMES
Gowns
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the novel The Mask of Fu Manchu by Sax Rohmer (New York, 1932).
AUTHOR
DETAILS
Series:
Release Date:
5 November 1932
Production Date:
early Aug--mid Oct 1932
Copyright Claimant:
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Distributing Corp.
Copyright Date:
8 November 1932
Copyright Number:
LP3400
Physical Properties:
Sound
Western Electric Sound System
Black and White
Duration(in mins):
66-67
Length(in reels):
7
Country:
United States
Language:
English
Passed by NBR:
Yes
SYNOPSIS

Nayland Smith begs his friend, Sir Lionel Barton, to find the tomb of Genghis Kahn before it is discovered by Chinese scientist Dr. Fu Manchu, who will use its contents for his own evil purposes. Just after Sir Lionel explains the expedition to his colleagues at the British Museum, however, he is kidnapped by Manchu's emissaries. When Sir Lionel's daughter Sheila hears of her father's capture, she tells Smith that she plans to search for the tomb herself. Meanwhile, at Manchu's headquarters in the Far East, the doctor tries to cajole and bribe Sir Lionel to reveal the secret, and even offers him his daughter, Fah Lo See, but Sir Lionel refuses. While Sir Lionel then undergoes Manchu's fiendish "torture of the bell," Sheila and the men of the expedition find the tomb and unlock its doors, despite a warning of a terrible curse. When the group meets up with Smith, he warns them that Manchu may strike at any moment, hoping to gain possession of the sword and mask of Genghis Kahn, which they found in the tomb. That night, expedition member McLeod is killed by a dagger thrown through a window. The next day, Terrence Granville, Sheila's fiancé, finds a human hand wearing Sir Lionel's ring, after which one of Manchu's underlings invites him to meet Manchu. Though Terry knows it is foolish, he agrees to go to Manchu's headquarters, carrying the sword and mask. Fah Lo See, who is attracted to Terry, orders her father's men to whip him when the sword turns out not to be geniune. She wants to make love to him later, but is stopped ... +


Nayland Smith begs his friend, Sir Lionel Barton, to find the tomb of Genghis Kahn before it is discovered by Chinese scientist Dr. Fu Manchu, who will use its contents for his own evil purposes. Just after Sir Lionel explains the expedition to his colleagues at the British Museum, however, he is kidnapped by Manchu's emissaries. When Sir Lionel's daughter Sheila hears of her father's capture, she tells Smith that she plans to search for the tomb herself. Meanwhile, at Manchu's headquarters in the Far East, the doctor tries to cajole and bribe Sir Lionel to reveal the secret, and even offers him his daughter, Fah Lo See, but Sir Lionel refuses. While Sir Lionel then undergoes Manchu's fiendish "torture of the bell," Sheila and the men of the expedition find the tomb and unlock its doors, despite a warning of a terrible curse. When the group meets up with Smith, he warns them that Manchu may strike at any moment, hoping to gain possession of the sword and mask of Genghis Kahn, which they found in the tomb. That night, expedition member McLeod is killed by a dagger thrown through a window. The next day, Terrence Granville, Sheila's fiancé, finds a human hand wearing Sir Lionel's ring, after which one of Manchu's underlings invites him to meet Manchu. Though Terry knows it is foolish, he agrees to go to Manchu's headquarters, carrying the sword and mask. Fah Lo See, who is attracted to Terry, orders her father's men to whip him when the sword turns out not to be geniune. She wants to make love to him later, but is stopped by Manchu, who has other things in mind for Terry. Manchu then has Sir Lionel's body delivered to the expedition's compound and Smith sadly reveals that he had made the phony relics to fool Manchu. Smith tells his colleague, Von Berg, that he must go away, then enters an opium den, where he sees a man with the Tattoo of Manchu on his shoulder. Smith follows the man and finds the secret entrance to Manchu's headquarters. After Manchu discovers Smith, Smith demands the release of Terry just as Terry is about to be injected by Manchu with a serum that will make him totally subject to the doctor's will. Manchu prepares the serum, derived from various reptiles and deadly insects, and tells Terry that it is the smallest dose, so that he will be himself again for Fah Lo See. Soon Terry, under the influence of the drug, goes to Sheila. Sheila suspects that Terry has been drugged when he blankly asks for the real sword and mask, but she and Von Berg still go with him and are captured by Manchu's men. At Manchu's headquarters, Sheila sees Fah Lo See with Terry and tries to get him out of his stupor. He does awaken, but Manchu orders Sheila taken away and prepared as a human sacrifice to the gods. The next morning, as Sheila lies on the sacrificial table, Smith breaks free from his crocodile infested cell and frees Terry. Together they then free Von Berg and tamper with Manchu's electricity machine, sending an electrical charge to the sword, apparently killing Manchu. While Terry rescues Sheila, Smith and Von Berg use the machine to send shocks to Manchu's men. On the boat back to England, Smith decides to throw the evil sword overboard. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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