June 30, 2008

Go, bad guys

Last night I watched The Mask of Fu Manchu ... and once again, I find myself on the side of the bad guys. Not because they really know how to indulge in some hot man-bondage (and they do!). Not because this film was effectively ripped off throughout the second, (and as I have previously argued) underrated Indiana Jones film. Not because it was ripped off to even greater effect by one of my all time favorite movies, Big Trouble in Little China ... But because, dammit, once again, the bad guys are right.

First you have Fu Manchu ... Doctor Fu Manchu to you, dude. He's got about nine advanced degrees, but to the imperialists, he's just another heathen. If he wants to become the latter day incarnation of Genghis Khan and eradicate the white menace from the face of earth, I can't blame him. This is one racist movie, and it wears its racism proudly. You don't need to take that crap, Doctor Fu.

The second reason to cheer on the forces of evil is the daughter, Myrna Loy. I realized yesterday that somebody I've known for many years reminds me strikingly of Ms. Loy. Even when she's not Nora Charles, she's fun to watch ... especially as the depraved daughter of DOCTOR FU MANCHU!

On a side note, it has been pointed out that my taste in actresses is ... idiosyncratic: Barbara Stanwyck (as in Double Indemnity), Myrna Loy, hmm. Joan Cusack? That will have to be the subject of a future article. In the meantime, if Boris Karloff is going to lead a rebellion against the British Empire, I guess I'm on board.


yarmando said...

I have similar problems with early Tarzan movies. "Wait, we're supposed to want these guys to find the elephant graveyard and get the ivory? The people who want to stop them are the BAD guys?"

Do I know this Myrna Loy-alike?

JB said...

I'd be surprised if you did, since this is a post-Columbus acquaintance, but I wonder if I know who you're thinking of.

(And if you're thinking of responding "I wonder if you wonder," think again!)

Michael said...

1) Yeah, Mask of Fu Manchu rocks! Karloff, Loy, the diapered-man bondage; you hit all the high points. Sadly, no other Fu movie can even come close. The Christoper Lee Fu films of the 60's are so-so as B-thriller entertainments, but are especially disappointing as follow-ups to the 1932 film.

2) 2 years later, in 1934, Mask would never have been released as it was thanks to the newly-enforced Production Code. At the very least, the potentially offensive (but titillating) dialogue about race and Loy's sexual shudders as she has Starrett whipped would have vanished.

3) Loy is fabulous in almost every movie she's in. You've apparently seen the Thin Man movies, but you should see some more of her early 30's movies, like The Animal Kingdom (she's the hot temptress), 13 Women (another evil Asian), and Manhattan Melodrama (torn between William Powell and Clark Gable).

4) Yeah, Barbara Stanwyck is hot! You definitely need to see Baby Face (1933) in which she almost literally sleeps her way to the top after having dodged the attentions of her pimping father. It's on DVD. As good as she is in Double Indemnity, she's just as good in her 30's movies.