The Fatal Hour (1940)

Rating: ***
Review Date: 1/1/15
Cast: Boris Karloff, Marjorie Reynolds

An undercover policeman named Dan O'Grady is murdered while working on a smuggling case. Captain Street takes it pretty hard and asks his detective friend Mr. Wong (Boris Karloff) to help him investigate the case. A spunky newspaper reporter named Roberta Logan (pretty Marjorie Reynolds) is also investigating the case looking for a scoop, and her fearlessly aggressive behavior is quite endearing and entertaining. The funny thing about murder is that loose ends often result in more murders, and three other people are killed in an attempt to cover up the murderer's tracks. While Street is busy interrogating all of the wrong suspects, Wong quietly goes about his business until he discovers the murderer's true identity.

It's a fun low budget murder mystery, but the most challenging aspect of it is seeing Boris Karloff playing a Chinese character, wearing vaguely Asian looking makeup. Once you get past that stumbling block, it's easy to sit back and enjoy the film. Karloff does an excellent job in the role, and portrays Mr. Wong as a highly educated, soft spoken, and overly polite man, treated with respect by his peers and free from racial stereotyping. Marjorie Reynolds is beautiful, and her enthusiastic charm nearly steals the show. It makes me wonder if the other Mr. Wong films are worth checking out.