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View Diary: Books So Bad They're Good: The Legacy of Sax Rohmer (132 comments)

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  •  This is the one to see! (6+ / 0-)

    If one has to watch a Fu Manchu movie, this one is at least deadpan campy. Karloff using his Frankenstein shambling walk, both he and Myrna Loy caress the nearly undressed love object/kidnap victim Charles Starrett while he's tied to a table, unbridled racism (practically everyone who's not white is a villain or henchman of some sort) with the entire East (including Middle!) organizing to defeat the white race, even a severed human hand decades before Yojimbo. It's impossible to take this one seriously and it is fun if you approach it in that spirit. It's like one of the Rohmer books turned up to 11 with a wink.

    The earlier Paramount Fu Manchu movies aren't so good, being early sound and the writers attempting to soften Rohmer's racism by explaining Fu's animus towards the British (Fu is wreaking his vengeance because his wife and kids are killed in the Boxer Rebellion). The films aren't horrible, but they're serious (and slow) and thus pretty unpleasant to modern eyes. The only fun to be had in the Oland Paramounts is a silly skit performed in Paramount On Parade, where Fu is the victor over some brainy adversaries.

    In defense of Warner Oland, he just happened to look vaguely Asian and played Asian or Middle Eastern characters as far back as the 1910s.

    •  I've seen him play Charlie Chan (4+ / 0-)

      He actually was a decent actor, and seemed to have good chemistry with the almost entirely Asian supporting cast.  I nearly died laughing when I found out he was actually Swedish.

    •  Oland was my favorite as a child (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      RiveroftheWest

      and, stereotypes not withstanding, I remember recognizing that he was the most intelligent character. The bafflement of the white characters at his "inscrutable Oriental" methods just underlined their limitations. It helped that his films featured Keye Luke, who was no slouch either.

      When Sidney Toler and Mantan Moreland came on board, things went down hill. The script's fault, not theirs.

      Nothing human is alien to me.

      by WB Reeves on Sun Jul 28, 2013 at 12:00:30 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

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