Boris Karloff as Mr Wong

Books and Films of Mr. Wong

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Mr. James Lee Wong is a fictional Chinese-American detective created by Hugh Wiley (1884-1968) who appeared in a series of stories in Colliers magazine from 1934 to 1938 and a series of films from 1938 to 1940. In the stories Mr. Wong is six feet tall, Yale educated, "with the face of a foreign devil - a Yankee", an agent of the United States Treasury Department and lives in San Francisco.

Mr. Wong appeared in a series of six films for Monogram Pictures from 1938 to 1940. Five of the films starred Boris Karloff, the sixth featured Keye Luke in the title role.

You may find my other sites of Asian detectives and villians of interest: Fu Manchu - Mr. Moto - Charlie Chan

Short stories
Twelve stories were published in Colliers Magazine from 1934 to 1938 Colliers Magazine Cover
  • Medium Well Done (March 10, 1934)
  • The Thirty Thousand Dollar Bomb (July 28, 1934)
  • Ten Bells (August 4, 1934)
  • Long Chance (December 15, 1934)
  • A Ray Of Light (May 25, 1935)
  • Jaybird's Chance (July 20, 1935)
  • Scorned Woman (September 14, 1935)
  • Three Words (November 2, 1935)
  • No Witnesses (February 15, 1936)
  • Seven Of Spades (September 5, 1936)
  • The Bell From China (March 26, 1938)
  • The Feast Of Kali (June 25, 1938)
Collection
Murder By The Dozen (1951) - For Sale
 
Films
Free Mr. Wong Films on YouTube

 StarringDirectorReleased
Mr. Wong, Detective Boris Karloff William Nigh 1938

Soon after San Francisco businessman Simon Dayton asks for help from famous detective James Lee Wong to prevent his murder, Dayton is found dead in his office. The logical suspect is Carl Roemer, an inventor who had just threatened Dayton with a gun for stealing his formula. Because the police had been summoned after the threat, Captain Sam Street is on hand to arrest the scientist, but Wong is not convinced that Roemer is guilty.

He finds thin particles of glass in Dayton's office, which lab experts tell him were originally shaped like a sphere and were made of extremely brittle Bavarian glass. Dayton's autopsy also reveals that he died from poison gas. Later Wong discovers that a duplicate he has made of the sphere shatters when certain sounds are emitted. As Street tries to build his case, his girl friend, Myra Ross, who was also Dayton's secretary, helps Wong because she is certain Roemer is innocent.

When one of Dayton's partners, Christian Wilk, is also found murdered in a locked room beside the glass particles, Wong's suspicions turn to a baron and his companion, Olga, also known as the Countess Dubois. Next, Devlin, Roemer's other partner, is found murdered the same way. Because Roemer was in jail at the time, he is released and is invited by Wong to come to his home.

The mystery is unfolded through a trap when Wong reveals that the glass sphere cracked at the sound of a police siren and that the sphere contained poison gas, which was to be sold to a foreign power through the agents, Olga and the Baron. Dayton's company was used to smuggle the poison out of the country. As a siren is heard in the background, Roemer jumps up and tries to flee, but Wong has used an empty sphere as a decoy.

It is finally revealed that Roemer killed all of the men by planting the sphere, then much later, arranged for situations in which the police had to be summoned, thus causing the sphere to break.

Featuring: Grant Withers as Capt. Street; Maxine Jennings as Myra; Evelyn Brent as Olga; George Lloyd as Devlin; Lucien Prival as Mohl; John St. Polis as Roemer; William Gould as Meisle; Hooper Atchley as Wilk; John Hamilton as Dayton; Wilbur Mack as Russell; Lee Tung Foo as Tchin (as Lee Tong Foo); Lynton Brent as Tommy; Grace Wood as Mrs. Roemer

 StarringDirectorReleased
The Mystery of Mr. Wong Boris Karloff William Nigh 1939

The Mystery of Mr. Wong Movie Poster

Brandon Edwards, a heartless collector of ancient Chinese treasures, smuggles the precious jewel "Eye of the Daughter of the Moon" out of China. A day before he obtained it, however, he received a note warning him that the possessor of the jewel faces death. Later, during a charade skit at a party at the Edwards' San Francisco home, Edwards is shot. Among the suspects is Edwards' secretary, Peter Harrison, who is in love with Edwards' wife Valerie and was holding a gun filled with blanks that was to be used in a mystery sketch when Edwards was killed.

Detective Wong, who attended the party with his criminologist friend, Professor Ed Janney, investigates the murder with Detective-Sergeant Street of the San Francisco police. Peter is arrested until a ballistics report confirms that the fatal bullet was fired from the balcony. Before he died, Edwards wrote the name of a suspect on a piece of paper and told Wong it would be in his safe. Wong learns that Valerie is the patron of a Russian singer, Strongonoff, who lives with the Edwards. Strongonoff's sweetheart is a Chinese woman, Drina, who took a job as the Edwards' maid so she and Strongonoff could procure the jewel.

Drina had hoped Strongonoff would marry her when they got to America, but realizes now he is in love with Valerie. Drina steals Edward's note from the safe, but discovers that the jewel is already missing. Wong then learns from Edwards' lawyer, Carslake, that Edwards had cut Valerie from his will, leaving a majority of his estate to his faithful Chinese butler, Sing. While Wong and Janney are staying in the Edwards house in order to pick up clues, they discover both the jewel and the letter missing. Drina accuses Strongonoff of stealing the jewel and backing out on his promise to marry her, then threatens to send Wong the note.

She is killed by a poisoned cigarette before she is able to do so, however. Sing contacts Wong regarding the note and is knocked on the back of the head before he can tell Wong where it is. On the day Wong expects to receive the note in the mail from Sing, all the suspects converge at his office. Methodically, Wong rules out every suspect but one. It was obvious to all that Peter and Valerie loved each other and had a motive for the murder, but both were standing next to Edwards when he was shot. Wong knows Strongonoff is really a thief named Petrovich, but is not the killer. Carslake, who quarreled with Edwards when he cut Valerie out of the will, had an alibi for the night of the murder.

The real murderer, Wong tells his audience of suspects, is Janney, who hated Edwards for driving Janney's sister, Edwards' first wife, to suicide. When Janney saw Edwards emotionally torturing Valerie the way he had his sister, he decided to kill him. Janney admits his guilt and shakes Wong's hand goodbye, slipping him the jewel. With the case solved, Wong sends his valet to China to return the jewel to the Chinese people.

Featuring: Grant Withers as Police Capt. Sam Street; Dorothy Tree as Valerie Edwards; Craig Reynolds as Peter Harrison; Ivan Lebedeff as Michael Strogonoff; Holmes Herbert as Prof. Ed Janney; Morgan Wallace as Brendan Edwards; Lotus Long as Drina, the Maid; Chester Gan as Sing, the Butler; Hooper Atchley as Carslake; Bruce Wong as Asian Man; Jack Kennedy as Police Guard; Joe Devlin as Police Lt. George Devlin; Lee Tung Foo as Willie (as Lee Tong Foo); Wilbur Mack as Ballistics Expert

 StarringDirectorReleased
Mr. Wong in Chinatown Boris Karloff William Nigh 1939

Mr. Wong in Chinatown Movie Poster

When Chinese Princess Lin Hwa is murdered in the home of eminent detective James Lee Wong, the only clue to her killer is her hastily scribbled note reading "Captain J." Inspector Street is summoned to the scene of the crime and is followed by reporter Bobby Logan, who identifies the victim as a Chinese princess. Wong turns to the Tong for information and discovers that the princess was on a mission to buy arms for her brother's army.

The princess brought with her a letter of credit for one million dollars, and Wong soon discovers that the money has been withdrawn from the bank through forged checks. As the princess' servants are murdered, suspicion points to Captain Guy Jackson, a phony airplane manufacturer; Captain Jalme, the skipper of the princess' boat; and Mr. Davidson, the bank president.

After Wong and Davidson are captured by Jackson and Jalme, Inspector Street traces the two captains to Davidson and comes to the rescue of Wong and the bank president. Wong then unmasks Davidson as the forger and murderer of the princess and her servants.

Featuring: Marjorie Reynolds as Roberta 'Bobbie' Logan; Grant Withers as Police Capt. Bill Street; Huntley Gordon as Mr. Davidson; George Lynn as Capt. Guy Jackson (as Peter George Lynn); William Royle as Capt. Jaime; James Flavin as Police Sgt. Jerry; Lotus Long as Princess Lin Hwa; Lee Tung Foo as Willie (as Lee Tong Foo); Bessie Loo as Lilly May; Richard Loo as Tong Chief; Ernie Stanton as Burton

 StarringDirectorReleased
The Fatal Hour Boris Karloff William Nigh 1940

The Fatal Hour Movie PosterAKA Mr. Wong at Headquarters

When Detective Dan Grady is murdered while on smuggling detail in Chinatown, his friend Bill Street, captain of homicide, investigates with James Lee Wong, "the Chinese copper." Wong finds a rare jade figurine in Dan's desk and visits Chinatown jeweler Belden, who specializes in Oriental imitations. With the help of female reporter Bobbie Logan, Street locates a witness who saw Dan in the Club Neptune the night he was murdered.

The club is run by crooked gambler "Hardway Harry" Lockett, who is part of Belden's smuggling ring. Lockett's moll, Tanya Sarova, wants out of the smuggling ring in order to marry Belden's innocent son Frank. When Belden learns of his son's plans to marry, he threatens to talk if Lockett has Frank killed. That night, Belden is killed in his store, which Wong realizes is filled with smuggled jade.

Tanya is then found dead, and Frank is arrested on suspicion of murder. The next morning, Street calls all the suspects to his office, and Frank insists that Tanya was dead when he arrived at her apartment and that the radio had been on. During the interrogation, Griswold, the writer of a mystery radio play which Belden sponsored at the request of his financial adviser, Mr. Forbes, is murdered in Street's office.

Wong discovers that the play was aired at the exact time Tanya was murdered and contains a gunshot fired at exactly the time a switchboard operator heard one over the phone. A ballistics report then reveals that Tanya, Belden and Dan were all killed with the same gun. Wong goes to Tanya's apartment and finds Forbes, whom he now knows killed Tanya because she was leaving him for Frank.

Forbes had rigged a cord to unhook Tanya's phone so the operator could hear the shot on the radio and place the murder during Frank's visit. Forbes now pulls a gun on Wong, who is saved by Bobbie, and Street arrests the killer.

Featuring: Marjorie Reynolds as Roberta 'Bobbie' Logan; Grant Withers as Capt. Bill Street; Charles Trowbridge as John T. Forbes; Frank Puglia as Harry 'Hardway' Lockett; Craig Reynolds as Frank Belden, Jr.; Lita Chevret as Tanya Serova; Harry Strang as Det. Ballard; Hooper Atchley as Frank Belden Sr.; Jason Robards Sr. as Griswold (as Jason Robards); Richard Loo as Jeweler; Jack Kennedy as Mike, Police Sergeant

 StarringDirectorReleased
Doomed to Die Boris Karloff William Nigh 1940

Doomed to Die Movie Poster

Despondent because of his increasing business losses and the tragic loss of his ship, the Wentworth Castle in a fire at sea, shipping magnate Cyrus Wentworth signs his will, leaving everything to his daughter Cynthia. Soon after, Cyrus' business rival, Paul Fleming, offers to consolidate their shipping lines, but Wentworth throws him out of his office. Fleming is in the outer office speaking to Mathews, a Wentworth employee, when his son Dick comes to inform Cyrus that he is planning to marry Cynthia.

As Mathews and Fleming listen to the heated argument coming from Cyrus' office, a shot rings out and Cyrus is found dead. The police are summoned and Captain Bill Street arrests Dick for the murder. When Dick claims that he had already left for the office when the shot was fired, Cynthia's friend, reporter Bobby Logan, sends for special detective James Lee Wong to investigate. Suspecting a revenge motive for the shipowner's death, Wong goes to Chinatown to investigate.

There he learns that Kai Ling was smuggling bonds from China aboard the Wentworth Castle , and is now missing. Wong also suspects Ludlow, the disgruntled Wentworth chauffeur, and follows him to the shipping office where he watches him burn some documents.

After several more shootings, including the murder of Kai Ling, Wong discovers that Ludlow, Kai Ling and attorney Victor Martin were involved in a smuggling ring, and that Ludlow killed Cyrus in order to destroy all evidence of his involvement. Under Wong's scrutiny, the guilty man confesses and Dick is exonerated of all murders.

Featuring: Marjorie Reynolds as Roberta 'Bobbie' Logan; Grant Withers as Capt. William Street; William Stelling as Dick Fleming; Catherine Craig as Cynthia Wentworth; Guy Usher as Paul Fleming; Henry Brandon as Attorney Victor Martin; Melvin Lang as Cyrus B. Wentworth; Wilbur Mack as Matthews; Kenneth Harlan as Ludlow; Richard Loo as Tong Leader

 StarringDirectorReleased
Phantom of Chinatown Keye Luke Phil Rosen 1940

Phantom of Chinatown Movie Poster

Dr. John Benton, in San Francisco following an archaeological expedition in the Mongolian desert, gives a film presentation for his colleagues. The film shows his discovery of the precious ancient tomb of a Ming emperor, for which archaeologists have been searching for centuries. The tomb contains a scroll that tells the secret of the Temple of Eternal Fire, which is of great financial importance to China as it could reveal an enormous untapped reserve of oil. The film of the trip shows a violent windstorm that erupted when the tomb was opened, in keeping with an ancient curse.

Mason, the co-pilot on the trip, was lost during the storm, and the expedition party was forced to continue on without him. During the presentation, as Benton is about to reveal the exact contents of the scroll, he chokes and dies. Captain Street of Chinatown Homocide tells Benton's daughter Louise, who was also on the expedition, that her father was poisoned. Win Len, Benton's secretary, who works for the Chinese government, denies any knowledge of the contents of the scroll, which is missing from Benton's safe. Meanwhile, James Lee Wong, a student of Benton's, investigates the case himself and finds the glass cup and pitcher that contained the poison, and Street identifies it as an oriental vegetable poison.

While Jimmy and Street view a film of Benton's lecture, Charles Fraser, the expedition's cameraman, receives an anonymous call that lures him away from Benton's house. Win then arrives to search the house, but on a hunch, Fraser returns and is attacked. When Jimmy and Street arrive, they find Win locked in a closet and Fraser injured. Jonas, Benton's butler, is scheming with Mason, who faked his death and now possesses the sacred sarchophagus of the emperor. Street then traces Fraser's phone call to a Chinese restaurant on the waterfront that has a secret room in which Jonas and Mason hide.

Mason escapes through a trap door, but Street and Wong find a trinket that Win reveals is a statuette of the "God of Vengeance" and is from the same district as the tomb. Street and Jimmy then find Jonas dead in a coffin, knifed in the chest, but actually killed by poison. Jimmy has headlines printed that claim Jonas lies in St. Christopher's Hospital suffering from tropical fever in order to lure the killer to Mason. Jimmy, wearing a hidden microphone, poses as Mason as the police stake out the hospital. Mason eventually cuts the microphone's wires and enters the room through the window and finds Frazier, who tried to double-cross Mason and broke into Benton's home to find the scroll.

Jimmy fights Mason as Street enters with policeman Grady. It is then revealed that Frazier edited out the part of the expedition film that showed the scroll and killed Benton in order to possess the secret of the oil himself. Frazier then killed Jonas because he and Mason were also after the scroll. Although Frazier destroyed the original scroll, Street finds Frazier's photograph of it and returns it to Win so that she may restore it to the Chinese people.

Featuring: Grant Withers as Capt. Street; Lotus Long as Win Len; Charles Miller as Dr. John Benton / Cyrus Benton in Newspaper; Huntley Gordon as Dr. Norman Wilkes; Virginia Carpenter as Louise Benton; John Dilson as Charlie Frasier (as John H. Dilson); Paul McVey as Detective Grady; John Holland as Mason; Richard Terry as Toreno (as Dick Terry); Robert Kellard as Tommy Dean; Willy Castello as Jonas (as William Castello); Lee Tung Foo as Foo

Comics
In 1939 comics of the films Mr. Wong, Detective & The Mystery of Mr Wong appeared in Dell's Popular Comics.
The full comics can be viewed at Comic Book Plus

Mr. Wong Strip Mr. Wong Strip Dell Popular Comic #40 Dell Popular Comic #41 Dell Popular Comic #42 Dell Popular Comic #43 Dell Popular Comic #44 Dell Popular Comic #45 Dell Popular Comic #46

  • Issue #40 - June 1939 - Mr. Wong, Detective (Pt. 1) - 4 pages
  • Issue #41 - July 1939 - Mr. Wong, Detective (Pt. 2) - 4 pages
  • Issue #42 - August 1939 - Mr. Wong, Detective (Pt. 3) - 4 pages
  • Issue #43 - September 1939 - The Mystery of Mr Wong (Teaser) - 1 page
  • Issue #44 - October 1939 - The Mystery of Mr Wong (Pt. 1) - 4 pages
  • Issue #45 - November 1939 - The Mystery of Mr Wong (Pt. 2) - 6 pages
  • Issue #46 - December 1939 - The Mystery of Mr Wong (Pt. 3) - 8 pages
Mr. Wong For Sale
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The Case Files of the Oriental Sleuths: Charlie Chan, Mr. Moto & Mr. Wong
For Sale
by David Rothel
During the golden age of magazine fiction, motion pictures, and radio-roughly the 1920s through the late 1940s-three Oriental crime fighters were introduced to the American public. Through the media which they inhabited they became fictional icons in American popular culture: Honolulu Police Inspector Charlie Chan, International Secret Agent Mr. I. A. Moto, and Justice Department Agent Mr. James Lee Wong-commonly known as the Oriental Sleuths. Created by respected authors Earl Derr Biggers, Pulitzer Prize-winner John P. Marquand, and Hugh Wiley, the three sleuths' adventures first appeared in popular magazines and then were quickly snapped up by Hollywood to sate the appetites of film-goers for detective thrillers on the silver screen. Charlie Chan carried his case loads over into radio, television, newspaper comic strips, comic books, Better Little Books, and games. Mr. Moto followed with radio adventures and a graphic novel, and Mr. Wong added comic book exploits to his résumé.Now author David Rothel brings all three Oriental sleuths together for the first time in one volume as he examines their origins and covers their development in all the media forms they encompassed through the years.

Murder By The Dozen
For Sale
by Hugh Wiley
The twelve Mr. Wong stories originally published in Collier's Magazine
Medium Well Done
The Thirty Thousand Dollar Bomb
Ten Bells
Long Chance
A Ray Of Light
Jaybird's Chance
Scorned Woman
Three Words
No Witnesses
Seven Of Spades
The Bell From China
The Feast Of Kali

Mr. Wong Complete 6 DVD Collection
For Sale
Mr. Wong Detective
The Mystery of Mr. Wong
Mr. Wong in Chinatown
The Fatal Hour
Doomed to Die
Phantom of Chinatown


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