The Mysterious Dr. Fu Manchu
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The Mysterious Dr. Fu Manchu

The Mysterious Dr. Fu Manchu
Original film poster
Directed byRowland V. Lee
Produced byRowland V. Lee
Written byLloyd Corrigan
Florence Ryerson
George Marion, Jr. (uncredited)
Joseph L. Mankiewicz (uncredited)
Based onThe Mystery of Dr. Fu-Manchu
by Sax Rohmer
StarringWarner Oland
Neil Hamilton
Jean Arthur
O. P. Heggie
Music byOscar Potoker
CinematographyHarry Fischbeck
Edited byGeorge Nichols Jr.
Paramount Pictures
Distributed byParamount Pictures
Release date
  • August 10, 1929 (1929-08-10)
Running time
82 minutes[1]
CountryUnited States

The Mysterious Dr. Fu Manchu is a 1929 American pre-Code drama film directed by Rowland V. Lee and starring Warner Oland as Dr. Fu Manchu. It was the first Fu Manchu film of the talkie era. Since this was during the transition period to sound, a silent version was also released in the United States,[2] although only the sound version exists today.[1]


A young white girl, Lia Eltham, is left in Fu Manchu's care. A British regiment, chasing Boxer rebels, fires on Fu Manchu's home, killing his wife and child. When Lia Eltham grows up, he uses her as an instrument for revenge, killing all descendants of those who killed his wife. Opposing Fu Manchu are Police Inspector Nayland Smith and Dr. Jack Petrie.



Cover of "The Mask of Fu Manchu" by Sax Rohmer. Illustration by Ronnie Lesser, 1962.

The film was very loosely based on the novel The Mystery of Dr. Fu-Manchu by Sax Rohmer.[2] The lead character of the novel, Sir Nayland Smith, is played down in this film, and the secondary hero, Dr. Petrie, becomes the main character.[1] Warner Oland, an actor of Swedish descent, was so believable in the role of Fu Manchu that he embarked on a career of playing Asian types throughout the 1930s, portraying the famous Asian detective Charlie Chan, until his death in 1938.[1]


The Mysterious Dr. Fu Manchu incorporates several Yellow Peril stereotypes typical of that era in its portrayal of Fu Manchu, including his skillful use of poison, blow darts, and use of hypnosis to control a white woman throughout the film.[3]


Several of the actors portray the same roles in the 1930 sequel The Return of Dr. Fu Manchu, which was followed by the conclusion of the trilogy, the 1931 Daughter of the Dragon.[1] Immediately after, MGM picked up the rights for the Fu Manchu character to produce their 1932 The Mask of Fu Manchu, a one-shot production which featured Boris Karloff in the title role.[1]


  1. ^ a b c d e f Workman, Christopher; Howarth, Troy (2016). Tome of Terror: Horror Films of the Silent Era. Midnight Marquee Press. p. 344. ISBN 978-1936168-68-2.
  2. ^ a b Progressive Silent Film List: The Mysterious Doctor Fu Manchu at
  3. ^ Behnken, Brian D.; Smithers, Gregory D. (2015). Racism in American Popular Media: From Aunt Jemima to the Frito Bandito. Santa Barbara, California: ABC-CLIO LLC. pp. 56-57. ISBN 978-1-4408-2977-2.

External links

  This article uses material from the Wikipedia page available here. It is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.



Music Scenes