Thursday, August 15, 2013


Daniel, an American soldier who is heading back home from Korea, agrees to take a valuable jade dragon statuette with him to deliver to a gift shop called the Jade Lotus. He assumes he’s doing a good deed for the Chinese storeowner, but he's unwittingly smuggling uranium into the States. When he arrives in Los Angeles, he is attacked and killed by two thugs but they don't get the dragon; he had mailed it to the wife of his good friend, private eye Phil Ramsey. The rest of the movie is a cat-and-mouse game involving Phil, his wife Ginny, the proprietor of the Jade Lotus, his henchmen, the cops, and a singing TV hostess named Terry. The print of this B-thriller on a Forgotten Noir set from VCI is beautiful; it's a shame that the movie is so bad. Richard Travis, who plays Phil, is a terrible actor, though to be fair, he's no worse than most of the rest of the cast. Sid Melton (familiar to me as Uncle Charley on TVs Make Room for Daddy, far right in the picture at left) is just dreadful as an offensive comic relief thug—a Caucasian making a series of bad jokes about Asian names, as in "Chiang Kai-shek and his cousin Cancelled Check." An actor credited as Mr. Moto (also the jokey name of his character, pictured putting the blindfolded Travis in an armhold) is the serious thug who knows some martial arts moves. The only actors in the movie worth watching are Sheila Ryan as Ginny and Lyle Talbot as a cop. The film, which didn't have much steam to start with, stops dead in its tracks for a country/western number by a TV band. The background score is played primarily on an organ, like in an old soap opera. In the final shot, Travis looks right at the camera and says, "Confucius say, when hero captures crook, time for picture to end." Finally: 1) this is NOT a noir; 2) there is no mask, of a dragon or otherwise. [DVD]

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