EVERYTHING ABOUT A MOVIE?
|CHANDU THE MAGICIAN (directors: William CameronMenzies/Marcel Varnel; screenwriters: Barry Conners/Philip Klein/based on the radio serial by Harry A. Earnshaw, Vera M. Oldham and R.R. Morgan; cinematographer: James Wong Howe; editor: Harold D. Schuster; music: Louis De Francesco; cast: Edmund Lowe (Chandu/Frank Chandler), Irene Ware (Princess Nadji), Bela Lugosi (Roxor), Herbert Mundin (Albert Miggles), Henry B. Walthall (Robert Regent), Weldon Heyburn (Abdulah), Virginia Hammond (Dorothy Regent), June Vlasek (Betty Lou Regent), Nestor Aber (Bobby Regent), Nigel De Brulier (Yogi Teacher); Runtime: 72; MPAA Rating: NR; Fox Film Corporation; 1932)|
|"This silly fantasy
sci-fi adventure film is based on a popular radio serial."
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
This silly fantasy sci-fi
adventure film is based on a popular
radio serial that ran between 1932 and 1936 (and was
later revived in 1948-9). The popular radio serial
was written by Harry A. Earnshaw, Vera M. Oldham and R.R.
Morgan. The movie is scripted by Barry Conners and Philip
would, in my opinion, make a visually pleasing half
hour sci-fi television show (reminding me of the 1950s
Captain Video), but the thin material seems a stretch
for a feature movie. Co-directors William Cameron
Menzies ("Invaders from Mars") & Marcel Varnel
("Ask a Policeman")
keep it substandard, one of the poorer versions in the
serial, but create some neat aesthetic sets.
Frank Chandler is Chandu
the Magician (Edmund
Lowe), a turban wearing spiritualist trained in magic
and hypnotism (his powers include the ability
to create illusions and a double of himself) by a great yogi (Nigel De Brulier)
to rid the world of
London-based teacher sends the American to Egypt to
save his humanitarian scientist brother-in-law
Robert Regent (Henry B. Walthall), who
invented a death ray to help mankind survive and is
taken prisoner by the evil Egyptian Roxor (Bela
Lugosi). Roxor wants the European white man, Regent,
to give him the secret formula of his death ray, which
has the ability to destroy the world. When Regent
has his henchman Abdulah (Weldon Heyburn) trick Regent's family into
visiting him in the jail cell in the temple where the
patriarch is held prisoner. Roxor then holds them all
captive and threatens to kill Regent's family if he's
not given the secret of the invention. It's up to
Chandu to escape Houdini-like from a closed coffin,
where he was bound in chains and tossed into the Nile
by Roxor's minions after a tear gas attack. That
Chandu escapes and stops Roxor from being the master
of the world, proves his teacher was right in choosing
him for this mission. While in Egypt, Chandu also
meets the lovely Caucasian Arab Princess Nadji (Irene
America of 1929),
someone he was in love with three years ago in Paris.
Nadji rejected him because an Egyptian princess can't
marry a western foreigner. But in the end, the heroic
Chandu gets the intelligent and pretty heroine, as
they kiss in the desert after he makes the clouds
cover the moon.
Comic relief was inserted
through character actor Herbert Mundin as Albert
Miggles, Chandu's alcoholic orderly--who whenever he took a
drink, Chandu fixed it so he saw a little man version
of himself warning him not to drink.
It dutifully serves as
lowbrow entertainment for the masses and for children,
who at the time were very much engaged with the
innovative escapes from the episodic cliffhanger
serials that were heard on the radio.
REVIEWED ON 7/22/2011 GRADE: C+
Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"
© ALL RIGHTS RESERVED DENNIS SCHWARTZ