Chinatown After Dark (October 15, 1931)
Released on October 15, 1931. A man brings a Chinese keepsake dagger from the house of Le Fong back to Chinatown, not knowing that the hollow handle hides a valuable jewel that everyone will kill to get.
Produced by Ralph M. Like
Directed by Stuart Paton
Written by Betty Burbridge.
The Actors: Carmel Myers (Madame Ying Su), Rex Lease (Jim Bonner), Barbara Kent (Lotus), Edmund Breese (Le Fong), Frank Mayo (Ralph Bonner), Billy Gilbert (Dooley), Michael Visaroff (Mr. Varonoff), Laska Winters (Ming Fu), George Chesebro (Varonoff's henchman), Willie Fung (Ling Chi), James B. Leong (servant), Charles Murphy (cop), Lloyd Whitlock (Detective Captain).
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An American is hired by Le Fong, an elderly Chinese man in San Francisco's Chinatown to go to China and bring back a keepsake dagger from Le Fong's home. On the way back, several people try to steal the seemingly worthless daggar from the man. When he finally delivers the dagger to Le Fong, the old man shows him a jewel hidden in the hollow handle of the dagger that will help his daughter Lotus get her start in America. But just then the lights go out, Le Fong and the man are killed, and the jewel disappears. The man's brother goes on a search for the killer of his brother, and to recover the jewel for Lotus, who he falls in love with. A chubby, sneezing detective Dooley stays one step behind him, also chasing the killer.
This movie is an early 'soundie' that has a good plot and pretty decent acting, considering the times. At this time in American cinema, film makers commonly use American actors for all of the major Chinese characters, and you'll notice accents that don't sound very Chinese. But still a worthy 'who-dunnit' from the early days of cinema.