I suppose you all assume that Boris Karloff is famous for 1) Frankenstein's monster and 2) narrating How The Grinch Stole Christmas, and not much else. Think again.
In 1938, Karloff was cast as Oriental detective James Lee Wong in a series of short features produced by Monogram Pictures. Karloff starred in 5 of the 6 movies in the series. The last, a prequel, "Phantom of Chinatown", had Keye Luke in the title role (and was previously reviewed in this space).
The opener, "Mr. Wong, Detective", finds Wong, an Oxford-educated investigator, hired by chemical magnate Simon Dayton (John Hamilton, better known for his later work as Perry White on Adventures of Superman), arriving in Dayton's office for an appointment, only for his client to have been murdered through curious means.
Monogram wanted their own inscrutable Oriental sleuth in opposition to the more well known Charlie Chan, whose rights were held by Fox at the time. A few years later, Monogram would take over the Chan license, finding it necessary to add comic relief (Mantan Moreland) where it wasn't really needed. Wong, thankfully, doesn't need comedy relief. However, Capt. Street (Grant Withers, who appeared in all 6 movies), was used as a sort of foil for Wong, befuddled by the detective's findings and theories.
Without further ado, Thevideocellar presents "Mr. Wong, Detective". Mind you, the Alpha Video DVD I have edited off the Monogram logo which appears at the beginning of this film........
I am not sure why Karloff left the series after 5 films, prompting the last to be reformatted as a prequel. One theory might be money and/or creative differences might have gotten in the way. In no way, shape, or form was Karloff used as a stereotype, as Wong speaks perfect English, the product of his Oxford training, which is the only advantage he'd have on Chan. It's too bad Wong is remembered by so few.......