Combustible Celluloid
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With: Boris Karloff, Lewis Stone, Karen Morley, Charles Starrett, Myrna Loy, Jean Hersholt, Lawrence Grant, David Torrence
Written by: Irene Kuhn, Edgar Allan Woolf, John Willard, based on a story by Sax Rohmer
Directed by: Charles Brabin
MPAA Rating: NR
Running Time: 68
Date: 11/05/1932

The Mask of Fu Manchu (1932)

3 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

Nobody's 'Fu'

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

In the mid-1990s, four old MGM horror films appeared together in a laserdisc box set: Charles Brabin's The Mask of Fu Manchu (1932), Karl Freund's Mad Love (1935), Tod Browning's Mark of the Vampire (1935) and Browning's The Devil-Doll (1936). Since MGM was never really interested in horror, the films all have histories of troubled productions. But nonetheless, they survive as genuinely wonderful classics.

The Mask of Fu Manchu (1932) -- shown here uncut for the first time, transferred from the camera negative -- stands alone as the weirdest, most subversive of the set. Boris Karloff stars as the famous supervillian, who hopes to find the tomb of Genghis Khan and use his mask and sword to take over the world. Myrna Loy appears in an early role as his teasing daughter. Lewis Stone played the good guy trying to stop them, though no one remembers him.

For its new DVD box set, Warner Home Video -- which owns older titles from the MGM vaults -- has thrown in two more movies, Michael Curtiz's Doctor X and Vincent Sherman's The Return of Doctor X (1939). Five of the films come with fun, informative commentary tracks, including one by director Sherman, who died a few months ago, just weeks shy of his 100th birthday.

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