DENNIS SCHWARTZ Movie Reviews

THE FACE OF FU MANCHU (director: Don Sharp; screenwriters: from the novel by Sax Rohmer/Peter Welbeck; cinematographer: Ernest Steward; editor: John Trumper; music: Christopher Whelen; cast:  Christopher Lee (Fu Manchu), Nigel Green  (Inspector Nayland Smith), Karin Dor (Maria Muller), Walter Rilla (Professor Ernst Muller), Peter Mossbacher (Gustav Hanuman), Harry Brogan (Professor Gaskel), Howard Marion-Crawford (Dr. Petrie), Tsai Chin (Fu's Daughter), James Robertson-Justice (Sir Charles Fortescue), Joachim Fuchsberger (Carl Jansen); Runtime: 89; MPAA Rating: NR; producers: Oliver A. Unger/Harry Alan Towers; Seven Arts (Warner Archive Collection); 1965-UK/Ireland/Germany)

"Christopher Lee is a trip playing the notorious Chinese villain Fu Manchu."

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Christopher Lee is a trip playing the notorious Chinese villain Fu Manchu, who wants to rule the world. He will play the heavy three more times, but never better than here. Director Don Sharp  ("The Fast Lady"/"The Curse of the Fly") rises above his usual so-so level with this appealing pic. It's written with polish by Peter Welbeck (alias for Harry Alan Towers), and is based on the novel by Sax Rohmer (pseudonym of the British journalist Arthur Sarsfield Ward). He published thirteen novels on Fu Manchu between 1913 and his death in 1959.

In
British-ruled China, at the turn of the 20th Century, the arch criminal Fu Manchu is supposedly beheaded by the Chinese imperial regime in front of his foreign captor, Scotland Yard investigator Nayland Smith (Nigel Green). Back in London, in the 1920s, Nayland, now the assistant chief of Scotland Yard, tells his partner Dr. Petrie (Howard Marion Crawford) he had a dream that Fu Manchu is alive. When German chemistry professor Ernst Muller (Walter Rilla) turns up missing in London, we soon learn Fu Manchu faked his death through the hypnotizing of a lookalike to take his place and is currently living in secret in the sewers of London. His latest diabolical plan is to rule the world by using a deadly poison gas on the public that's made from the seeds of the rare black hill poppy, found only in Tibet. Aside from the Tibetan High Lama, only Muller and his assistant Carl Jansen (Joachim Fuchsberger) know how to distill  the seed into a gas that's so deadly that even a small dose would kill everyone in London.

Fu Manchu kidnaps Muller
with an army of Burmese assassins, who use a prayer shawl to strangle their victims. When Muller balks at helping, Fu Manchu he uses his wicked daughter (Tsai Chin) to kidnap the scientist's precious daughter Maria (Karin Dor) and he threatens to harm Maria unless he complies. Muller reveals that only Professor Gaskell (Harry Brogan) has the instructional papers needed for making the toxic gas, and the papers are kept in a vault at the Museum of Oriental Studies. It then becomes up to Scotland Yard to stop the evil criminal before he gets the papers. When Fu Manchu kidnaps Gaskell and puts him under hypnosis, he gets the poison gas and kills the entire seacoast town of Fleetwick. Nayland responds to this national security threat by rescuing Muller and his daughter and then laying a trap to blow the bad guys up with explosives.

REVIEWED ON 10/11/2016       GRADE: B

Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"

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