Retrospektive 2018

Phantom of Chinatown

Phil Rosen
USA 1941
61 min

Als Antwort auf die beliebten Charlie Chan-Filme von 20th Century Fox erfand Monogram den chinesischen Meisterdetektiv Mr. Wong, der fünfmal von Boris Karloff verkörpert wurde. Im letzten Wong-Film wurde Karloff durch Keye Luke ersetzt, einen talentierten chinesisch-amerikanischen Schauspieler, der zuvor Charlie Chans „Sohn Nummer zwei“ verkörpert hatte. PHANTOM OF CHINATOWN ist das progressivste Werk der populären asiatischen Detektivfilme: Er beginnt mit offener Kritik am ethnografischen Blick eines Expeditionsfilms, den ein Professor kurz vor seinem Tod präsentiert.



In response to 20th-Century Fox’s eminently popular Charlie Chan, Monogram invented the depreciatory Chinese master sleuth Mr. Wong, played for five films by the versatile Boris Karloff. The last of the Mr. Wong series broke radically from the formula by replacing Karloff with the talented Keye Luke, the Chinese-American actor locked into the role of Chan’s “Number Two” son but now freed to solve an enigmatic crime of his own—the murder of his college mentor, a prominent archaeologist killed while lecturing about his controversial discovery of a legendary ancient Chinese tomb. Arguably the most progressive of the many Asian detective films popular throughout the B-era, PHANTOM OF CHINATOWN begins with a remarkable critique of the ethnographic gaze shown in the expedition footage presented by the professor just before his death, as if to underscore the film’s refreshing casting of Asian-American actors as protagonists. Joining forces with Luke is Japanese-American actress Lotus Long as a patriotic secret Chinese agent assigned to recover the precious scroll pillaged from the sacred tomb. Eccentric comic accents liven the pace and sharpen the film’s sly parody of racial stereotyping, best expressed in the ludicrous fortune cookie dialogue deadpanned by Luke as he weaves his way through the Chinatown underworld. (Haden Guest)


  • Keye Luke
  • Lotus Long
  • Huntley Gordon
  • Virginia Carpenter
  • John Dilson
  • Grant Withers
  • Charles Miller
  • George Waggner
  • Ralph Gilbert Bettison
  • Hugh Wiley
  • Fred Jackman Jr.
  • Edward J. Kay
Monogram Pictures
16 mm
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