The Fatal Hour (1940)

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“The Fatal Hour” is a 1940 American crime film directed by William Nigh and starring Boris Karloff, Marjorie Reynolds, and Grant Withers. The film tells the story of a police detective named James Lee Wong (played by Boris Karloff) who is tasked with solving a murder case in San Francisco’s Chinatown.

The murder victim is a wealthy businessman named Gordon McLeod, who is found dead in his office with a Chinese character painted on his chest. The police suspect that the killer is someone from Chinatown, and Wong is brought in to help with the investigation.

Wong is a brilliant detective who is respected by both the police and the Chinese community. He begins to investigate the case, and he quickly realizes that the murder is linked to a smuggling ring operating in Chinatown. He also discovers that McLeod had been secretly working with the smugglers to bring in a valuable jade Buddha statue from China.

As Wong delves deeper into the case, he becomes the target of the smugglers, who are determined to stop him from uncovering their operation. They hire a hitman named Marloff (played by Grant Withers) to kill Wong, but the detective manages to outwit him and gather enough evidence to solve the case.

In the final scenes of the movie, Wong confronts the smugglers and reveals their scheme to the police. He also clears the name of a young Chinese man who had been wrongly accused of the murder. The film ends with Wong being hailed as a hero and a symbol of justice for the Chinese community.

“The Fatal Hour” is a classic crime film that explores themes of race, identity, and cultural conflict. It is notable for its portrayal of a Chinese-American detective as the main character, which was a rarity in Hollywood films of the time. The movie is also remembered for Boris Karloff’s commanding performance as James Lee Wong, which helped establish him as a leading actor in the detective genre.

William Nigh

Scott Darling, George Waggner, Hugh Wiley

Boris Karloff, Marjorie Reynolds, Grant Withers

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