Wednesday, October 07, 2015


We see a Chinese man on a boat throw a package overboard which is picked up by a man in a motorboat and passed along until it reaches its destination, the home of gem collector Brandon Edwards (Morgan Wallace).  It's a legendary jewel from China called the Eye of the Daughter of the Moon which was lost in the Japanese looting of Nanking but is now in Edwards' possession. But the day before, Edwards got a letter threatening death to the gem's owner so he calls in detective James Lee Wong to investigate. That night, at a party at Edwards' home, an elaborate game called Indications is played, with partygoers acting out charades in short skits. During the charade for a book called "Murder Comes at Midnight," the character Edwards is playing is shot by a gun filled with blanks, but after he falls to the ground, it's discovered that he's actually been shot dead, from a different gun, from a different direction. Among the suspects: Peter (Craig Reynolds), the lover of Edwards' wife Valerie, who has said that he'd kill Edwards if he ever mistreated his wife; Strogonoff, a Russian singer who has been "adopted"by the family and lives with them; a possibly suspicious maid and butler. Wong, his criminologist friend Janney, and police captain Street (Grant Withers) have their work cut out for them.

This is the second in the Mr. Wong series. In the movies, mostly played by Boris Karloff, Wong is mild-mannered but obviously intelligent and a man of good taste. If it weren’t for the occasional Chinese robe and the atmosphere of Wong's home, Karloff's portrayal is subtle enough that you might not even notice the character's ethnicity. If only for the charades twist, this is the most memorable of the Mr. Wong movies; the Monogram low-budget problems are present in sets and scripting, but the acting is a notch above usual; in addition to the always reliable Karloff, Withers, Reynolds and Wallace are good. The set-up involving a deadly parlor game is pretty much the same that was used in the earlier MURDER AT MIDNIGHT; both were written by Scott Darling. In the above picture, Reynolds is seated at the desk, Karloff is behind him, and Withers is standing to the left. [DVD]

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