The Mask of Fu Manchu (1932) – Episode 70

The Mask of Fu Manchu (1932) - Myrna Loy

The Mask of Fu Manchu (1932) – Myrna Loy

I am a doctor of philosophy from Edinburgh, a doctor of law from Christ's College, a doctor of medicine from Harvard. My friends, out of courtesy, call me 'Doctor'

Welcome to today’s show, The Mask of Fu Manchu (1932), my name is John. As always you can subscribe to the show on iTunes or follow the links to social media in the podcast show notes. You can also go to to read notes, bios, and other random movie thoughts. Remember this show is completely free and independent. All I ask is that you jump over to iTunes and give me a review.

Today’s movie is The Mask of Fu Manchu (1932). It features many European actors with taped-backed eyes but I going to go with “that’s how it was done back then” and move on. Boris Karloff and Jean Hersholt were amazing in their roles. Myrna Loy was fantastic playing an evil sex crazed fiend. I used to seeing her in roles like The Thin Man (1934) and The Best Years of Our Lives (1946). Of course this movie has archeologists which always draws me in.


Boris Karloff was up to the role of Dr. Fu Manchu and was as good as anything I have seen him in. We first covered Karloff in Episode 7 – Bride of Frankenstein (1935).

Jean Hersholt was cast as the German member of the archeological team named Von Berg. Although the theme was dark Hersholt delivered with a light touch. We covered Jean Hersholt in Episode 64 – Mark of the Vampire (1935).

Steve Clemente has a very small role as a knife thrower. Clemente was first covered in Episode 1 – King Kong (1933).

Lewis Stone played in Nayland Smith of the British Secret Service. Stone was an American actor. He went to fight in the Spanish-American War and returned to a career as a writer. By the time he was out of his teens his hair had already turned white. He began acting in 1915 but took another break to serve in the cavalry during World War I. Following the war, his white hair allowed him to be cast as older and more respectable.

He started getting better roles such as Don’t Neglect Your Wife (1921), The Prisoner of Zenda (1922), Scaramouche (1923), and The Lost World (1925). He received an Oscar nomination for The Patriot (1928). He moved easily into sound pictures with The Trial of Mary Dugan (1929). Other movies include The Big House (1930), The Phantom of Paris (1931), Red-Headed Woman (1932) with Jean Harlow, and Inspiration (1931), Mata Hari (1931), Grand Hotel (1932), and Queen Christina (1933) all with Greta Garbo (1931).

The Mask of Fu Manchu (1932) - Boris Karloff

The Mask of Fu Manchu (1932) – Boris Karloff

In 1938 he took the role of Judge James Hardy father of crime solver Andy. Mickey Rooney played the role of Andy. Stone had a heart attack and died in 1953

Karen Morley played the role of Sheila Barton, daughter of Sir Barton. Morley was born in 1909 and was adopted by a LA family in the mid-1920s. She attended Hollywood High School and her interest soon turned to acting. She studied at the Pasadena Playhouse and signed  a contract with Fox Studios. Her big break came when Howard Hughes cast her as a blonde gun maul in Scarface (1932) which starred Paul Muni and Boris Karloff had a small part. Morley starred in Mata Hari (1931) with Greta Garbo, Arsène Lupin (1932) with John Barrymore, and Dinner at Eight (1933) with Jean Harlow.

In 1934, Morley left MGM over her intentions to start a family and marry director Charles Vidor. Morley was the third of four wives with Evelyn Keyes of Episode 38 – 99 River Street (1953) being number two. Morley continued to work as a freelance until 1947 when she refused to answer questions for the Communist hunting House Committee on Un-American Activities. Morley died in 2003.

Charles Starrett played the role of Terrence “Terry” Granville. He was playing football for Darmouth and was hired as an extra for The Quarterback (1926). After that Starrett followed the path to vaudeville, then stock stage work, and finally to Broadway. He was spotted by a Paramount scout and signed to play in Fast and Loose (1930). The good-looking young many was cast in many roles but nothing really remarkable. In 1936, he signed with Columbia where he was in 115 westerns over the next 16 years. In the 1940s he was a top cowboy actor and his roles include the “Durango Kid”. Slowly these B westerns dried up and Starrett left acting in the early 1950s.

Myrna Loy played the lovely and totally evil Fah Lo See. Loy was born in Montana in 1905. Following her father’s death, the family moved to Los Angles. She began acting at the age of 15. While acting in a local production at the Grauman’s Theater, Loy was spotted by Mrs. Rudolph Valentino who worked to get her parts in movies.

Her first film was a What Price Beauty? (1925) followed by Pretty Ladies (1925). Loy was able to easily transition from silent to talkies. When she acted in Satan in Sables (1925), she was able to land a studio contract with Warner Bros. She slowly moved from playing a vamp, hussy, not vampire to a wholesome lady and wife.

When her contract with Warner ended she moved to MGM where she immediately got two good roles. These films were The Prizefighter and the Lady (1933), and the other as Nora Charles in The Thin Man (1934) with William Powell. In total, she was in six Thin Man films and was an important part of the series success.

Her roles slowed in the 40s and 50s but that didn’t stop her from being a major part of one of the greatest movies of all times. She was the glue that held The Best Years of Our Lives (1946) together. Loy had very few roles through the 1970s and her last film was Summer Solstice (1981). She passed away at the age of 88 in 1993.

Lawrence Grant played the lead archeologist Sir Lionel Barton. Born in England Grant traveled to America in 1908 with a repertoire company. Grant was always fascinated by Native Americans. He was able to spend time with several tribes and shot a good bit of color motion pictures. He went on a lecture tour and showed his film. He was also able to have a 25 year Hollywood career. Grant died in 1952, at the age of 81 following four hard performances during a heat wave.

David Torrence played maybe Scottish archeologist McLeod. He was born in Scotland in 1863. David followed his older brother to California and began working in silent films such as Tess of the D’Urbervilles (1913) and The Prisoner of Zenda (1913). However, David preferred to work on Broadway. Due to economics, he returned Hollywood following World War I. Now in sound pictures he was a standout in Disraeli (1929), A Successful Calamity (1932), and Voltaire (1933). His roles became smaller and smaller until by 1939 he was at an end. However, this was not before appearing in Queen Christina (1933), Bonnie Scotland (1935) with Laurel and Hardy, Mutiny on the Bounty (1935), Captain Blood (1935), The Dark Angel (1935), Lost Horizon (1937). Rulers of the Sea (1939), and Stanley and Livingstone (1939). Torrence died in 1951.


The Commissioner of the British Secret Service, Sir Nayland Smith (Lewis Stone) ask Sir Lionel Barton (Lawrence Grant) to travel to the Gobi desert in China to find and obtain the mask and sword of famous conquered Genghis Khan. Smith says Fu Manchu is trying to obtain the mask and sword and will use it to raise up all of Asia.

Barton heads to the British Museum to meet the other archeologists for the trip. When he enters he is being watched from inside a mummy sarcophagus by an Asian man. He picks two men to go with him: Von Berg (Gene Hersholt) and McLeod (David Torrence). He reveals he may know the location of Genghis Khan’s tomb. They plan to meet on Sunday and leave on Monday. When he walks out of the back room three mummy ninja attack and kidnap him.

Barton’s daughter Sheila (Karen Morley) and Terry –  Terrence Granville (Charles Starrett) go to Smith office after a week seeking word on the kidnapped Barton. Smith knows that he has been kidnapped by Dr. Fu Manchu. The other archeologists have agreed to continue the expedition and Sheila and Terry sign on against Smith’s objections.

Over in China, Fu Manchu (Boris Karloff) has Barton brought before him. Fu tries to buy him off first. Then his smoking-hot dragoon-queen daughter Fah Lo See (Myrna Loy) comes in. She is offered to Barton as well. But he again refuses. He is then drug off to the torture room. They strap Barton under a giant bell and do a version of the water torture with sound.

The others travel across the desert on camels and Sheila shows them the presumed location of the tomb. The English and their hired coolies begin excavating in a cave. Currently, we use graduate students for this type of labor.

Fu continues the torture. Back at the cave, they are using burros with baskets to haul out the dirt. They find the tomb and are lowered in by rope. All four English people go down into the pit. As they open the tomb they debunk the Curse of King Tut. Nice homage to other horror movies. They then get to the inner door which contains a curse. They go right through the door. The recovery the sword and mask off of the skeleton. The workers come in and bow before the body. The archeologists fire their pistols in the air to drive the workers out.

Fu is having a Mongol leaders banquet. He cracks hard on his daughter. She gives the prophecy that Genghis Khan will return to conquer the world.

The archeology crew makes it to a mansion for the night with sword and mask in hand. Smith is there waiting for them. They have to hide with no lights so Fu Manchu doesn’t find them. They take the goods upstairs to a place that looks like the building from Game of Death (1978). McLeod agrees to be locked in with the goods all night. There are spies and thieves all over the grounds. One of Fu’s men throws a grappling hook over to the house and slides from a tree. He throws his knife and hits McLeod in the back but McLeod manages to shot and kill him.

In the morning they bury McLeod out back. Smith tells them the plan is to leave that night. Terry goes on guard duty and there are still spies in the house. When Terry goes into the yard a hand with Barton’s ring flies over the wall. Fu Manchu’s messenger ask for the sword and mask delivered to the shop of Goy Lo Sung on the Street of the Dragoon or Barton dies.

Sheila convinces Terry to deliver the sword and mask and they end up at the palace of Fu Manchu. Fah Lo See thinks Terry is beautiful. Fu Manchu puts the sword to the electricity test and it fails because it is a fake. Terry is hauled to the torture room and Fah Lo See happily goes along. She has a great time watching him be whipped. Kinky! She takes him back to her bedroom and starts to get all kissy face. However, Fu has other plans.

Back at the mansion, Smith is interrogating Sheila about where Terry is. About that time Barton’s dead body is delivered in a rickshaw. He has a dragon stamp on his forehead. They have to give Sheila a sedative. Smith reveals that he had a fake sword made and hide the original.

Goy Lo Sung is the entrance to the House of 10,000 Joys. Smith heads to the fun place. Smith bribes the owner to get into the opium den. He is given a bed and some opium but he quickly slips away into the lounge in the back. Seeing the dragon tattoos on the girls he knows he is in the right place. He throws a gas lantern and escapes into the back during the confusion. He falls through the Buddha trap door into some old tunnels. It is not long before Fu shows up and takes Smith prisoner.

Fu takes Smith to Terry who is being transformed into a zombie for Fu. Fu Manchu extracts spider venom and uses a boa constrictor to bite another man. He uses that man’s blood to mix with the spider venom as the bitten man dies. Fu then uses a sparkler to heat the potion as he adds powders. He administers only a small dose.

Back at the mansion, Sheila wakes as someone lurks outside her window. It is Terry But he seems a little weird. Terry says Smith wants them to leave in the storm and head for Peking. Sheila seems to sees through the trick.

Von Berg and Terry go out to the cemetery where the sword and mask are buried. When they dig it up the trio gets in a horse-drawn wagon and head out. In the deep woods, they are set upon by Fu’s men while Terry howls madly.

The trio, the sword, and the mask are taken Fu’s palace. The sword passes the test. Fu lays out his whole plan. Bad move. Shelia tries to bring Terry back from his trance and fixation with Fah Lo See. He comes back but they all still get hauled way to the dungeon. At sunrise they put Smith on a  teeter-totter over alligators, Von Berg  is taken to the spike press, and Sheila is dressed to be sacrificed to the gods. She is drugged and ready. Terry is being remade as a sex slave.

All of the Mongol leaders assemble in the great hall. Fu dresses in the mask and a Carman Miranda hat. Smith gets untied and walks on the alligator’s way before Pitfall. Von Berg struggled to get free as Sheila is brought in to be sacrificed.

Terry overpowers two black weightlifters as Smith shows up to help. They get to Von Berg in time to save him. Fu gets the sword and the three European men run to the electrical sword testing machine. It just happens to have a portal to the room where the Mongols leaders are meeting. Von Berg turns it on and zaps the sword in Fu Manchu’s hand. Terry picks up the sword and gives him a chop. He flees with Sheila as Von Berg and Smith zap the crowd.

On the boat back to England Smith gets ready to throw the sword in the ocean when a gong rings. After a small fright, they realize it is just the dinner bell.

World-Famous Short Summary – Boy struggles with two different girls

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Beware the moors

The Mask of Fu Manchu (1932)

Mark of the Vampire (1935) – Episode 64

Carroll Borland - Mark of the Vampire (1935)

Carroll Borland – Mark of the Vampire (1935)

There is no more foul or relentless enemy of man in the occult world, than this dead-alive creature spewed up from the grave.

Welcome to today’s show, Mark of the Vampire (1935), my name is John. As always you can subscribe to the show on iTunes or follow the links to social media in the podcast show notes. You can also go to to read notes, bios, and other random movie thoughts. Remember this show is completely free and independent. All I ask is that you jump over to iTunes and give me a review.

Mark of the Vampire (1935) is a great movie. Bela Lugosi is great as always but the stand out performance of this movie is really Carroll Borland as the vampiress Luna. We will get to her in a bit but first I want to briefly touch on the four actors were have seen before. This movie is a remake of the silent London After Midnight (1927) starring Lon Chaney Sr.

London After Midnight (1927) Lon Chaney Sr.

London After Midnight (1927) Lon Chaney Sr.


Lionel Barrymore played the role of investigator Professor Zelin. We introduced Barrymore in Episode 25 – Key Largo (1948).

Of course Bela Lugosi played the vampire Count Mora. We first introduced Lugosi in Episode 10 – Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man (1943).

Lionel Atwill, the master of authority roles, played Inspector Neumann. Atwill was first covered in Episode 09 – Son of Frankenstein (1939).

Donald Meek played the role of Dr. Doskil the local medical professional. This wonderful actor was recently introduced in Episode 61 – Stagecoach (1939).

Jean Hersholt played the role of Baron Otto, the warden of Irena (Elizabeth Allan) after the death of her father Sir Karell Borotyn (Holmes Herbert). Hersholt was Danish and started making films in Germany by 1906. In 1913, he immigrated to the US. He moved to Hollywood the next year and never bothered to work on Broadway. Through the teens, he was a bit player in silent movies. By the 1920s he was getting bigger roles. Some of his earlier films include The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse (1921) and Greed (1924). His first sound film was The Climax (1930), this was followed Grand Hotel (1932), The Mask of Fu Manchu (1932) with Boris Karloff and a hot young and evil Myrna Loy, and Dinner at Eight (1933). Of course, he played a creepy role in Mark of the Vampire (1935).

He was a veteran actor and was in many roles such as authority figures and doctors. He acted with Sonja Henie in her first Hollywood film One in a Million (1936), and played the grandfather in Heidi (1937) opposite Shirley Temple. He stumbled into a couple of roles where he was a country doctor in The Country Doctor (1936) and Five of a Kind (1938).

He gave generously to support actors that were not as fortunate as himself. He died in 1956.

Carroll Borland played the role of vampires Luna. Before I go any further I want to say that you have most likely seen a picture of Broland from this role and may not know where it came from. Borland’s look for this movie was the inspiration for future female vampires with her waist-length raven hair, designer shroud, pale flesh, and bright lips. Lily Munster, Elvira, and the Plan 9 from Outer Space Vampira (Maila Nurmi) vampires were all modeled on her.

Borland was born in 1914 and only have five film credits and these were decades apart. It has been reported that she meet Bela Lugosi in a play where she was one of the generic victims. Based on this meet she received this role. She was great in this role but had very few speaking lines. She wrote a book on her life and it came out in 1994, a month after she died.


The story is a fairly simple tale. It begins with a group of gypsies huddling around a fire outside a church as they gather apply bat thorn. An old crone picking bat thorn in the cemetery is frightened by a bat. It switches to a tavern where the owner is advising a middle-aged couple to spend the night. The local doctor, Dr. Doskil (Donald Meek) comes flying into the tavern at full speed. The tavern owners finally drop the bomb that vampires are in the old castle and kill at night.

Mark of the Vampire (1935) Carroll Borland

Mark of the Vampire (1935) Carroll Borland

It is two weeks before Irena Borotyn (Elizabeth Allan) is to marry he fiancé Fedor Vincenti (Henry Wadsworth). Irena’s father Sir Karell Borotyn (Holmes Herbert) is found murdered with two puncture wounds in the neck and all of the blood drained from his body.

Dr. Doskil stands over the body of Sir Karell and tries to convince Police Inspector Neumann (Lionel Atwill) that the death is the work of vampires. Neumann is not buying it. The butler says a bat woke him before he found the body.

The now guardian of Irena, Baron Otto von Zinden (Jean Hersholt) consoles her about the death. He fiancé Fedor arrives at the murder scene as well. They have a coroner inquest and the local villages are content to blame the death on the vampires living in the old castle, Count Mora (Bela Lugosi) and his daughter Luna (Carroll Borland).

The cause of death is ruled as unknown and Irene goes to live in the house of Baron Otto. After some months the wedding plans are resumed. One morning Fedor staggers in with two marks on his neck that he got when he fell by the castle.

The Count and Luna are shown walking around the abandon castle and estate. She is followed closely by a bat. People begin seeing Luna and the hysteria increases. Luna draws Irena out onto the patio and attacks her But she is not bitten.

Inspector Neumann calls in noted vampire expert Professor Zelin (Lionel Barrymore). Zelin confirms the vampire attacks to Dr. Doskil and Baron Otto. Zellen orders bat thorn to be placed on the doors and windows.

Baron Otto finds a lease for the castle that was recently signed by Sir Karell even though he has been dead a year. Zelin explains that everyone killed by a vampire becomes one. Irena comes downstairs and says she heard her fathers voice calling her.

That night Baron Otto and Inspector Neumann go to the crypt of Sir Karell. They are followed by a bat. In the crypt, they find that Sir Karell is not in his coffin. Zellen explains the vampire problem to Fedor and tries to send him away.

As the maid and butler are spreading the bat thorn they see Count Mora in the house As he transforms from a bat. Zelin, Count Otto, and the inspector see Count Mora, Luna, and Sir Karell walking in the mist.

At the castle Sir Karell plays his organ while Count Mora and another man watch and a bat flies overhead. The inspector and Count Otto look into the window in time to see Luna descending on bat wings. That night Irena is attacked again.

The next day the Inspector, Count Otto, and Zellen go to the castle to find the vampires. They see a bat and the inspector starts blazing away at it. As they search the lower part of the castle and find The body of Sir Karell. Baron Otto tries to kill Sir Karell. Zellen explains that they must all be killed at once or the others will fall on them. The trio loses their light and get trapped in the castle.

Irena acts like she has something to tell Fedor but she says she can’t. That night Luna leads Irena to the castle as well. Fedor follows her to the castle. At the castle, Irena sees all of the vampires including her dead father. Zelin and Count Otto hear Sir Karell playing the organ. They have lost the inspector somewhere. Luna is about to bite Irena’s neck when Fedor breaks in through a window. Count Mora grabs Fedor and pushes him away.

In the basement, Zellen hypnotized Baron Otto. He tells him it is a year earlier on the night of Sir Karell’s murder. Irena goes and sits by her father who is playing the organ. Then she says she can’t do it. Her “father” says Mrs. Borotyn you must. The inspector pops up and says they actor looks so much like her father. The inspector talks her into continuing their secret plan. They also remind her that Baron Otto was behind the first attack on Fedor.

Mark of the Vampire (1935) Bela Lugosi and Carroll Borland

Mark of the Vampire (1935) Bela Lugosi and Carroll Borland

Professor Zelin is really the Chief Inspector of the Prague Police. Baron Otto reenacts the murder. It is revealed that Baron Otto wanted to marry Irena. Also, Otto spikes Karell’s medicine. Otto prepares to cut Karell’s neck with a pin knife and heats a glass to suction the blood. The inspector and Zellen arrest Otto and dehypnotize him. Irena explains to Fedor that she could tell him about the trick.

Upstairs Count Mora and Luna are packing their trunk. It turns out that they were actors from Luna’s Bat Woman Theatre, hired by the police to trap Otto. Count Mora decides to add vampires to their act.

World-Famous Short Summary – Be careful with vampires because they may be part of a troop

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Beware the moors

Mark of the Vampire Official trailer #1

Mark of the Vampire (1935)