I recently purchased Mill Creek’s Crime Wave 50 Movie Megapack and decided to jump right in. This set is obviously going to take some time to get through, but why not get started now?
Bulldog Drummond Comes Back (1937) Louis King
Mill Creek Crime Wave 50 Movie Megapack (1:04)
I’m not sure why Mill Creek’s Crime Wave 50 Movie Megapack starts with Bulldog Drummond Comes Back from 1937, since it is neither the earliest film in the collection (both The Death Kiss and The Thirteenth Guest were released in 1932) nor the best transfer. In fact, the transfer is possibly the worst I’ve seen on any DVD in years. It seems someone decided the film was too dark and turned up the illumination to unbelievable levels, so much so that many of the faces look like glowing orbs. (Trust me: the image above is sharper and more balanced than anything you’ll see in the Mill Creek edition.) The Bulldog Drummond series ran for 23 films and Comes Back is the tenth entry. Maybe it’s the only one Mill Creek could get their hands on. I doubt it’s the best in the series.
In this outing, Captain Drummond’s (John Howard, above left) girlfriend Phyllis Clavering (Louise Campbell) is kidnapped. Drummond has to solve a series of riddles in order to find the lovely Phyllis. Assisting Drummond is his friend Colonel Nielsen (John Barrymore) as a master of disguise. The film contains a few mildly interesting moments, but this is one you can probably skip, especially with a transfer this bad.
The Mystery of Mr. Wong (1939) William Nigh
Mill Creek Crime Wave 50 Movie Megapack (1:08)
This second feature in the Mill Creek Crime Wave set fares better than the first, not only in picture quality, but also in storytelling, although the plot is quite familiar to anyone who’s seen or read even a handful of mysteries. Speaking of seconds, this is also the second film in the six-film Mr. Wong series, the first being Mr. Wong, Detective (1938).
Boris Karloff (above left; seriously!) repeats his role as Mr. Wong, a Chinese-American detective who discovers that Brandon Edwards (Morgan Wallace), a wealthy collector of precious stones, has acquired the “Eye of the Daughter of the Moon,” the largest star sapphire in the world. How he acquired it is somewhat suspect, since the sapphire was recently stolen from its home in China. Edwards confesses to Wong that he fears for his life as long as he has the sapphire in his possession. His fears are not unfounded: Edwards is soon murdered during a party in his own home.
The Mystery of Mr. Wong is predictable, but fun. The murder scene is one that has been used repeatedly, but works well here. What doesn’t work quite so well is the casting of Karloff as Mr. Wong. Here’s a six-foot-tall British man trying to sound Chinese while loaded down with pigment-darkening make-up. No one was fooled for a second, but it didn’t matter; this was Karloff, who was enormously popular and in high demand. (This is the third of six movies Karloff would make in 1939.) A must for Karloff fans and worth seeing for everyone else.