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)

Stagecoach (1939) – Episode 61

Stagecoach (1939)

Stagecoach (1939)

Sure I can find another wife. But she take my rifle and my horse. Oh, I'll never sell her. I love her so much. I beat her with a whip and she never get tired.

Welcome to today’s show, Stagecoach (1939), 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. I am continuing the series about people trying to go somewhere or get somethings done and there are obstacles in the way.

Stagecoach (1939) was the first sound western and the first of many times that director John Ford used Monument Valley as the setting for a film.

This movie was meant a vehicle to launch two stars. For one it took, and for the other not so much.

Dallas, was a woman of shall we say low moral values or in another word Awesome. The church ladies of the town loaded her up on the stage. You know those western towns were probably a lot of fun until they got school marms and law men. Claire Trevor, who we mentioned it Episode 40 – Key Largo (1948) did a great job handling this complex role. However, she never became the big star that was expected.

Stagecoach (1939)

Stagecoach (1939)

The Ringo Kid was a youth that was serving time for murder and broke out to kill another man. But he wasn’t a bad guy as he was framed and the second killing would be justified. John Wayne played this role at the tender age of 31. Of course we have talked about John Wayne ad nauseam beginning with Episode 3McLintock! (1963).

Hatfield was a mysterious southern gentleman riding on the stagecoach. He has a real interest in a pregnant woman and a secret. John Carradine was great as always in this role. We first talked about John Carradine in Episode 12 – Billy the Kidd Versus Dracula (1966).

Doc Josiah Boone was a pretty good doctor but he can’t resist the grape, or the hops, or barley or anything else he could drink. This role was handled expertly by Thomas Mitchell. He seemed to play this role in several other films as well. We talked about Thomas Mitchell in Episode 53 – It’s a Wonderful Life (1946)

Samuel Peacock was a very mild-mannered whiskey dealer. This role was handled masterfully by Donald Meeks. Meeks had a domed shaped bald head and he was very diminutive. Donald Meek made a career out of playing this type of character. However, this was not his off-screen persona.

Meeks was born in Scotland in 1878. Before he came to America in 1912. By this time he had already been in 800 shows in Britain and Australia. He was also part of an acrobatic troop but a fall from the wire resulted in several broken bones. After he was healed he joined the U.S. 6th Pennsylvania Regiment and served in Cuba during the Spanish-American War. He was wounded and lost his hair as result of a yellow fever bout. When World War I broke out he joined the Canadian Highlanders as a corporal, but never left Canada.

Between the wars, he began acting and working in stock companies. In 1903 he made his first appearance on Broadway. He was in his first movie, The Clyde Mystery (1931). In 1933, Meeks and wife Belle moved to Hollywood. He mostly moved from studio to studio but was a highly sought after character actor.

His roles include toy maker Mr. Poppins in You Can’t Take It With You (1938), nervous whiskey salesman Samuel Peacock, in Stagecoach(1939) a shady gambler My Little Chickadee (1940); bee-keeper Bartholomew in Nick Carter, Master Detective (1939). Meeks did have roles where he was not the meek character. These films include a courageous prospector fighting villains in Barbary Coast (1935), a miser in The Toast of New York (1937), a citizen trying to collect a reward by unmasking Edward G. Robinson in The Whole Town’s Talking (1935), a tough railroad executive in Jesse James (1939) and The Return of Frank James (1940).

In the 15 years, he was in 120 movies. He died in 1946 at the age of 68.

The stagecoach driver was Buck. He was the comic relief for the movie. He was cracking wise and acting afraid. He had a large Mexican family and was always hungry. The role was performed by Andy Devine. Devine was a large American actor that had a unique voice and might be considered authentic frontier gibberish. Devine started with small roles in silent films and finally was in a talkie, The Spirit of Notre Dame (1931) because he was a good football player. His voice almost derailed his career. However, he turned it into a positive and spent the next 45 years being a much in demand character actor especially in westerns. He became hugely popular when he was teamed with Guy Madison from Episode 60 – The Command (1954), in television and radio in the ‘Adventures of Wild Bill Hickok’ 1951-1958. He remained active in films until his death in 1977.

Cavalry Lieutenant Blanchard was played by Tim Holt. Holt was the son of western actor Jack Holt. He started acting as a kid. He had a good career prior to World War II including: Stella Dallas (1937) with Barbara Stanwyck, The Law West of Tombstone (1938), Stagecoach (1939) 5th Ave Girl (1939), Swiss Family Robinson (1940), Back Street (1941), and The Magnificent Ambersons (1942).

World War II interrupted Holt’s career but not John Wayne’s. He was highly decorated during the war and returned to movies in My Darling Clementine (1946). Holt was great in The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948) but following Desert Passage (1952) he left film. In 1957, he came back for The Monster That Challenged the World (1957) and again in 1971 for a moonshine film called This Stuff’ll Kill Ya! (1971). The next year he was diagnosed with cancer and died in 1973.

William Hopper played an uncredited cavalry Sergeant. Hopper was the son of early gossip columnist Hedda Hopper. However he is best known as Perry Mason’s television investigator, Paul Drake 1957-1966.

Another UCLA football star, Woody Strode, played a bit part in the background. This African-American became part of the Ford “family” and appeared in four of the director’s films. He is probably best known as the gladiator that fought Kirk Douglas in Spartacus (1960).

The great stuntman Yakima Canutt played an uncredited cavalry scout. He was also in charge of the stunts and performed all of the tough ones himself.

The wonderful cowboy bit actor Hank Worden was also one of the cavalry troopers. He was discussed in Episode 49The Alamo (1960)

Steve Clemente from Episode 1 – King Kong (1933) had a small part in this film as well.

I started watching this John Ford classic and was immediately struck by some similarities. I might be critiqued for putting these two movies together but they stole a lot of Stagecoach(1939) for Billy the Kid Versus Dracula (1966). Yeah that’s right I said it. John Carradine played a mysterious southern gentleman with an over developed interest in a young lady in Stagecoach (1939). In BTKVD (1966) he played a vampire, which is a type of southern gentleman with an overdeveloped interest in a young lady. In BTKVD (1966) and Stagecoach (1939) there was a whiskey salesman on board.

Thomas Mitchell played a drunk in Stagecoach (1939) and in It’s a Wonderful Life. Traveling on the stage with the doc was a bank embezzler and Mitchell played a bank embezzler in Lost Horizon (1937). Are these mere coincidence. Why yes, I believe they are. But there fun anyway.


Director Ford, the master of the wide shot shows cavalry, stagecoaches, and Indians moving among the mesas. Two scouts speed into the cavalry camp and report that Geronimo is on the move. They get a telegraph with one word Geronimo.

The overland stage pulls into Tonto, Arizona Territory driven by Buck (Andy Devine) who’s voice is the second best style of authentic frontier gibberish. There are two passengers on the stage that will be continuing the journey to Lordsburg, New Mexico Territory. They are Mrs. Lucy Mallory (Louise Platt) the pregnant wife of a cavalry officer and Samuel Peacock (Donald Meeks) a mild mannered whiskey salesman. A tall slender drink of water studies Lucy and when she ask who he is, they tell her that he is not a gentleman and is in fact a notorious gambler. Going only by the name of Hatfield (John Carradine) is of course modeled on Doc. Holiday.

The Marshal Curly Wilcox (George Bancroft) tells Buck that the shotgun rider is out looking for the escaped Ringo Kid (John Wayne) and he finds out that Ringo is after the Plummer brothers for killing his father and falsely sending him to prison. When the marshal finds out the Plumbers are in Lordsburg and he says he will go along as shotgun.

Elsewhere in town, banker Gatewood (Berton Churchill) receives a $50,000 payroll shipment. He says what is good for the banks is good for the country. This line must have been a riot in the middle of the Great Depression.

A group of church ladies from the “Law and Order League” escort Dallas (Claire Trevor) to the stage and insist that the women of ill repute leave town. Festus I told you to hustle up some rustlers, not rustle up some hustlers.

About that time, the drunken Doc Josiah Boone (Thomas Mitchell) is being evicted. Dallas ask for his help but instead the pair walk across the road to saloon to wait for the stage followed by the church ladies as “Shall We Gather at the River” is piped in the soundtrack. Boone gets right into Peacock’s whiskey samples.

Lucy is already snotting up at Dallas. A cavalry patrol comes in led by Lt. Blanchard (Tim Holt). He lets them know Geronimo is about and says they will escort them to Dry Fork where another escort is to be waiting. Hatfield joins the stage and says he will protect Lucy. At the edge of town banker Gatewood flags them down and gets aboard, of course he has the $50,000 in a small bag. Gatewood says he got a message from Lordsburg although the telegraph line was down.

Buck says he only took the job 10 years ago so he could marry his Mexican girlfriend. He has to take care of her whole family. You will see this theme again with Andy Devine in about three more episodes. Marshall Curley is suspicious of Gatewood.

The Ringo Kid (John Wayne) fires a gun to flag the stage down because his horse has gone lame. Curley, although a friend of the Kid, arrests him. Easiest capture ever. Curley and Buck talk about what a great guy Ringo is. Boone knows Ringo’s family and mentions being discharged from the Army after the “War of the Rebellion.” Hatfield chimes in saying you mean the “War for the Southern Confederacy.” I thought it was called the “War of Northern Aggression” or the “Late Unpleasantness” in formal company. Curley makes small talk with Buck about how much he likes the Kid and how he use to ride with his dad.

The stages makes it to Dry Fork and find out that their cavalry escort has moved to Apache Wells and the troops with them have orders to leave. Curley has the group vote on going forward or going back. Curley disrespects Dallas and Ringo calls him out. They vote to go forward. When Dallas sits at the table, Lucy and Hatfield move to the other end of the table as if they are too good. Ringo thinks it’s him. Hatfield tells Lucy he was in her father’s regiment during the war. Ringo makes sweet talk to Dallas.

The group heads on to Apache Wells and the escort leaves. The name of that place makes me think maybe the Cowboys weren’t the good guys. Peacock is scared and the Doc dotes over him and steals his whiskey. The banker goes on about America for American (While on the way to Apache Wells), the national debt, too much regulations, and needing a business man for president. Man that’s scary.

As they get cold in the mountains, Dallas tries to befriend Lucy, but is rebuffed. Lucy recognizes Hatfield’s family crest on his cup. They dis Dallas and Ringo makes them pass the water to her. Dallas and Ringo keep making eyes.

When they get to Apache Wells the Mexicans are well armed and let them know that the soldiers left for Lordsburg after Lucy’s husband was wounded. Lucy again rebuffs Dallas and then she faints. She is having her baby and the drunken doctor with the help of Dallas must deliver the baby. The doc calls for black coffee and Ringo is sent for boiling water. I’m not sure what the hot water is for. said it may be to sterile the doctors hands and instruments although bacteria was just being understood around this time.

The Mexican station manager’s wife comes in and she is an Apache. The whites get a little freaked out. The Doc goes in and manages to get the job done. In the night the vaqueros run away with the spare horses.

That night Dallas comes outside with a healthy baby. Ringo gets all twitterpatted. The Doc goes right back to drinking. A little later Ringo ask Dallas to marry him. He tells her about his ranch on the Mexican side of the river. Short courtship. Dallas won’t give him an answer because of her past.

In the morning they do a little racial stereotyping with the Mexican stage manager when his Apache wife runs off. Gatewood wants to push on but Lucy’s condition keeps them in place. The doc finds out that Dallas has been taking care of the baby all night. Dallas tells doc about the proposal and ask if a girl like her should marry someone that doesn’t know her past. Dallas tells Ringo that she will marry him if he gives up his plan to kill the Plummer’s. Dallas convinces him to run away but says she can’t leave Lucy and the baby yet but will join him later.

Ringo escapes but only goes about 60 feet when he sees Apache smoke signals and stops. As quickly as possible everyone gathers their belongings and they head for Lee’s Ferry. The group is at each other’s throats as the tension builds.

When the stage pulls into Lee’s Ferry, the buildings and the ferry have been burned. Curley lets Ringo out of his handcuffs in case he needs to fight. Hatfield sees the Apache moving along the mountain crest. The rest of the group lashes large logs to the side of the stagecoach so it will float across the river. This is the greatest example of basic Boy Scout skills I have ever seen. The horse swim and pull the stagecoach across the river. This is an incredible pre-CGI stunt with at least three stuntmen including Yakima Cunutt, on the stagecoach. If you haven’t seen this, watch the movie as soon as this podcast is over.

They now head to Lordsburg and all believe the danger has passed as they have safely crossed the river. The stagecoach is then attacked by a band of mounted Apaches. Peacock is hit by an arrow in the chest at the beginning of the fight. Buck drives the coach at full speed while Curley provides covering fire with his double barrel shotgun. Ringo climbs on top of the stage and uses a Winchester rifle. Hatfield is firing a pistol from inside the stagecoach. As the Doc treats Peacock he has to knock Gatewood out to keep him from jumping out of the stagecoach. One of the Indians jumps on the lead pair of horse of the stagecoach to slow them down. Ringo shoots him and the stuntman, Yakima Canutt, hits the ground and is passed over by 6 horses and the stagecoach wheels. And there was no nice rut dug in the ground for the stuntman like when this stunt was duplicated with a truck in Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981). Hatfield is showing pure joy as he fires. Even doc joins in on the defense after he gets Meeks stabilized. Buck is hit and Ringo has to jump from the stagecoach and then to each of the three pairs of horses to retrieve the reins. This is another great stunt. The stagecoach riders begin to run low on ammo. Hatfield has a single bullet left. He looks to Lucy, who is praying, and holds the gun to her head. Just before he fires Hatfield is hit by an Indian bullet. At just that instant Lucy hears the cavalry trumpet and they chase away the attackers. Just before he dies Hatfield admits to which family he belongs.

The stage makes it to Lordsburg and Lucy finds that her husband is only slightly wounded. Lucy is finally kind to Dallas. Some men recognize the Ringo Kid and run to tell Luke Plummer, the meanest of the brothers, that he is in town. Luke is playing poker and has aces and eights. Another player comments saying a dead man hand. Luke sends for his brothers.

Ringo tells Curley to take Dallas to his ranch in Mexico. Gatewood was arrested for robbery when he gets off the stage. Curley gives Ringo a rifle and ten minutes. Ringo shows that he has saved three rounds. Dallas begs him not to do it. He sees that she lives on what looks like cat house ally but he doesn’t care.

The two other Plummer brothers show-up as does Doc. Luke gets a shotgun from behind the bar. Buck comes in and tells them that Ringo is on his way. The Doc stands up to Luke and forces him to leave the shotgun. The local newspaper editor says to print that the Ringo Kid was killed even before the fight starts.

Ringo faces down the three brothers and kills all three is a fair fight. The shadows and lights of the pre-fight play like a film-noir classic. Ringo walks back to Dallas and they embrace. Curley and Doc arrive on a buckboard and Ringo gets on board to go to jail. Curley says Dallas can ride a bit with the kid. When she gets on the Doc and Curley throw rocks at the horses and let the pair get away. Curley says he will buy Doc a drink and Docs says just one. The buckboard with the lovers rides into the rising sun.

The End.

Andy Devine said he got the part over Ward Bond because Bond couldn’t drive a six-horse team. Sadly many horses were killed during the filming of this movie as they used a running W wire to make the horses fall.

Wayne wore the hat from this film for the next 20 years until it was retired after Rio Bravo (1959). This film was lost until 1970 when a positive copy Wayne had was used to restore it.

World-Famous Short Summary – Train (really a stagecoach) moves through Indian territory

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If you enjoyed this week’s show please tell your friends and it you really want to help drop over to iTunes to give me a review. If you want to comment, recommend a movie, or just say hi, follow the links in the show notes to my site.

Beware the moors

King Kong (1933) – Episode 1

King Kong (1933)

King Kong (1933)

Oh no, it wasn't the airplanes. It was beauty killed the beast.


Fay Wray

Fay Wray

We take on the king of them all – King Kong (1933). This is the king (see what I did there) of all monster movies and set the bar for what was to come. But has anyone done it better?

Today I’m going to talk about the movie King Kong (1933). If you just thought about the 1976 or the 2005 version, or even the 207 version, this ain’t it. I’m talking about the 1933 real King Kong (1933)  movie. This is the one with bi-planes and Fay Wray.

This is an American-made film in the monster/adventure genre. It was never nominated for an Oscar. Oddly this film had two directors both of which were uncredited. The first, Merian C. Cooper, is better known as a producer for at least 5 John Wayne films, with one of the most interesting being The Searchers (1956) which is loosely based on the search for Cynthia Parker, a kidnapped white woman who became the mother of the last Comanche chief, Quanah Parker.

The second director Ernest B. Schoedsack. Schoedsack is best known for Mighty Joe Young (1949), another ape flick, and the sequel to King Kong (1933), The Son of Kong (1933). Both Cooper and Schoesack served in WWI, and Cooper flew with the American Kosciuszko unit in the 1920s in the Polish/Soviet Union war.

The female lead, Fay Wray, was a Canadian-born actress that played the love interest in westerns during the silent film years then made the transition to talkies. Fay stated that director Cooper said he would cast her with the tallest dark-haired leading man in Hollywood. Wray though he was talking about Clark Gable. Of course, he was refereeing to the 25-foot tall ape.

In Kong, filmmaker Carl Denham played by Robert Armstrong must find a leading lady to finish his movie. So he gets Ann Darrow played by Wray for the price of a meal. Remember the depression? The love interest for Wray, not counting the big ape, is John Driscoll played by Bruce Cabot. Cabot had a career that lasted over 30 years, mostly playing tough guys. He also managed to appear in The Son of Kong (1933) and Mighty Joe Young (1949).

You all know Bruce Cabot whether you know it or not. Moving from a leading man to a sidekick role Cabot became a regular feature in most John Wayne movies such as The Comancheros (1961), Hatari! (1962), McLintock! (1963), In Harm’s Way (1965), The War Wagon (1967), The Green Berets (1968), Hellfighters (1969), The Undefeated (1969), Chisum (1970), and Big Jake (1971), a movie that has more quotable lines than an episode of “Game of Thrones.” Cabot became Wayne’s on-screen and off-screen drinking buddy.

The native Chief was played by Noble Johnson, great name. Johnson was a childhood friend of Lon Chaney, star of Phantom of the Opera (1925) and father of the best Wolf Man ever. Johnson was an African American that had a great career playing bit parts and side characters of various races. His roles include Cecil B. DeMille’s The Ten Commandments (1923) and The Thief of Baghdad (1924).

A Mexican actor, Steve Clemente, a.k.a. Clemento played the Witch King or as we would know it witch doctor. He also reprised this role in The Son of Kong (1933).

The movie tells the story of an island tribe that is living on the toenail of a beach while most of the island is behind a great wall with a huge gate. We will talk more about this gate in a minute. It is clear that the natives have canoes so why they didn’t leave the island for a more ape friendly place.

The special effects artist was Willis O’Brien. While his work was groundbreaking and set the standards for the future. Unfortunately, he is probably best remembered for working with Ray Harryhausen on Mighty Joe Young (1949). Harryhausen went on to do the effects for Earth vs. the Flying Saucers (1956), The 7th Voyage of Sinbad (1958), Jason and the Argonauts (1963) and Clash of the Titans (1981).

King Kong 1933 Movie Lineage

King Kong 1933 Movie Lineage


Character Denham brings Ann Darrow to Skull Island to finish the film where they encounter the islanders. After seeing Darrow’s blonde hair, the islanders decide right away that she will make a great sacrifice for what is presumed to be their god, Ani saba Kong!, King Kong. Racist much?

So now we come to the wall. The wall seems to be about 100 feet tall and is built to keep a 24-foot tall climbing ape out. The original posters said 60 feet. They also added a 25-foot tall gate so they could place their lunar inspired sacrifices when a 6-foot gate would do.

But I digress. So the natives use their canoes, remember the canoes, to steal Ann to feed to Kong. But Kong likes what he sees and carries Ann while he battles giant prehistoric and modern beasts. Of course, Denham and Cabot rescue Ann and capture the giant ape as well.

They whisk the beast to NYC where they crown and chain him. Feeling humiliated and longing for Ann he breaks free and goes on a rampage. After much mayhem, he captures Ann again and climbs to the top of the Empire State Building. Eventually, he frees her to protect her from the attacking bi-planes. He swats one of the bi-planes and it’s a real applause line for the underdog. In one of the bi-planes directors, Cooper and Schoedsack were filmed attacking the beast. Over 70 years later in his over-hyped version of King Kong, Peter Jackson cast himself and make-up man Rick Baker in the same scene. Generally, the folks that recognized Jackson though it was the coolest thing ever never realizing that there is nothing new under the sun.

But back to the plot

Fay Wray

Fay Wray

Eventually, Kong falls from the building, dying more from a broken heart than the bullets he was hit with.

World-Famous Short Summary – Country boy goes to town and falls for a big-city girl. Things end badly for the boy.

Three Lessons from King Kong (1933)

King Kong (1933)