Mr. Wong, Detective (1938)

67-70 mins | Mystery | 1938

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HISTORY

Some reviews incorrectly list actor Lee Tong Foo as Tchin, the name of the character he played. This was the first film in Monogram's "Mr. Wong" series. Five additional films were made in 1939 and 1940, ending with Phantom of Chinatown in 1940. The first five films, all directed by William Nigh, starred Karloff as "Mr. James Lee Wong," and Grant Withers as "Street," whose first name and rank changed from film to film. Three of the films co-starred Marjorie Reynolds as "Street's" girl friend. The last film starred Keye Luke as "Jimmy Lee Wong," a college student studying criminology. For additional titles in the series, consult the Series Index. The 1947 Monogram film, Docks of New Orleans (see above), directed by Derwin Abrahams and starring Roland Winters, was a partial remake of Mr. Wong, Detective , substituting the fictional detective "Charlie Chan" for "Mr. Wong" and moving the action to New ... More Less

Some reviews incorrectly list actor Lee Tong Foo as Tchin, the name of the character he played. This was the first film in Monogram's "Mr. Wong" series. Five additional films were made in 1939 and 1940, ending with Phantom of Chinatown in 1940. The first five films, all directed by William Nigh, starred Karloff as "Mr. James Lee Wong," and Grant Withers as "Street," whose first name and rank changed from film to film. Three of the films co-starred Marjorie Reynolds as "Street's" girl friend. The last film starred Keye Luke as "Jimmy Lee Wong," a college student studying criminology. For additional titles in the series, consult the Series Index. The 1947 Monogram film, Docks of New Orleans (see above), directed by Derwin Abrahams and starring Roland Winters, was a partial remake of Mr. Wong, Detective , substituting the fictional detective "Charlie Chan" for "Mr. Wong" and moving the action to New Orleans. More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
8 Oct 1938.
---
Daily Variety
27 Sep 38
p. 3.
Film Daily
3 Oct 38
p. 8.
Hollywood Reporter
24 Aug 38
p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter
27 Sep 38
p. 3.
Motion Picture Daily
3 Oct 38
p. 6.
Motion Picture Herald
17 Sep 38
p. 44.
Motion Picture Herald
1 Oct 38
p. 39.
New York Times
21 Nov 38
p. 14.
Variety
23 Nov 38
p. 14.
DETAILS
Series:
Production Date:
began 24 August 1938
Copyright Claimant:
Monogram Pictures Corp.
Copyright Date:
5 October 1938
Copyright Number:
LP8334
Physical Properties:
Sound
Western Electric Sound System
Black and White
Duration(in mins):
67-70
Length(in feet):
6,301
Length(in reels):
8
Country:
United States
PCA No:
4690
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

Soon after San Francisco businessman Simon Dayton asks for help from famous detective James Lee Wong to prevent his murder, Dayton is found dead in his office. The logical suspect is Carl Roemer, an inventor who had just threatened Dayton with a gun for stealing his formula. Because the police had been summoned after the threat, Captain Sam Street is on hand to arrest the scientist, but Wong is not convinced that Roemer is guilty. He finds thin particles of glass in Dayton's office, which lab experts tell him were originally shaped like a sphere and were made of extremely brittle Bavarian glass. Dayton's autopsy also reveals that he died from poison gas. Later Wong discovers that a duplicate he has made of the sphere shatters when certain sounds are emitted. As Street tries to build his case, his girl friend, Myra Ross, who was also Dayton's secretary, helps Wong because she is certain Roemer is innocent. When one of Dayton's partners, Christian Wilk, is also found murdered in a locked room beside the glass particles, Wong's suspicions turn to a baron and his companion, Olga, also known as the Countess Dubois. Next, Devlin, Roemer's other partner, is found murdered the same way. Because Roemer was in jail at the time, he is released and is invited by Wong to come to his home. The mystery is unfolded through a trap when Wong reveals that the glass sphere cracked at the sound of a police siren and that the sphere contained poison gas, which was to be sold to a foreign power through the agents, Olga and the Baron. Dayton's company ... +


Soon after San Francisco businessman Simon Dayton asks for help from famous detective James Lee Wong to prevent his murder, Dayton is found dead in his office. The logical suspect is Carl Roemer, an inventor who had just threatened Dayton with a gun for stealing his formula. Because the police had been summoned after the threat, Captain Sam Street is on hand to arrest the scientist, but Wong is not convinced that Roemer is guilty. He finds thin particles of glass in Dayton's office, which lab experts tell him were originally shaped like a sphere and were made of extremely brittle Bavarian glass. Dayton's autopsy also reveals that he died from poison gas. Later Wong discovers that a duplicate he has made of the sphere shatters when certain sounds are emitted. As Street tries to build his case, his girl friend, Myra Ross, who was also Dayton's secretary, helps Wong because she is certain Roemer is innocent. When one of Dayton's partners, Christian Wilk, is also found murdered in a locked room beside the glass particles, Wong's suspicions turn to a baron and his companion, Olga, also known as the Countess Dubois. Next, Devlin, Roemer's other partner, is found murdered the same way. Because Roemer was in jail at the time, he is released and is invited by Wong to come to his home. The mystery is unfolded through a trap when Wong reveals that the glass sphere cracked at the sound of a police siren and that the sphere contained poison gas, which was to be sold to a foreign power through the agents, Olga and the Baron. Dayton's company was used to smuggle the poison out of the country. As a siren is heard in the background, Roemer jumps up and tries to flee, but Wong has used an empty sphere as a decoy. It is finally revealed that Roemer killed all of the men by planting the sphere, then much later, arranged for situations in which the police had to be summoned, thus causing the sphere to break. +

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

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The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.