From The Warner Archive: Three Featuring Boris Karloff
The Warner Archive recently released a triple feature – all on one disc – of some rare Boris Karloff films from the 1930s. While these may not be the greatest films, they are definitely must-haves for Karloff enthusiasts and are interesting in that they feature Karloff in non-horror films. The set includes two films directed by John Farrow: West of Shanghai (1937) and The Invisible Menace (1938), as well as William Clemens’s Devil’s Island (1939).
West of Shanghai is a strange film featuring Karloff as a Chinese (yes, Chinese) warlord who winds up with a handful of Americans on his hands. Will he ransom them? Will he play matchmaker by killing off one of the women’s estranged husband because she’s a missionary who doesn’t believe in divorce? You’ll have to watch it to find out.
This set also includes a trailer for West of Shanghai that features one of the strangest nicknames I’ve ever seen given to an actor.
The Invisible Menace is a pretty run-of-the-mill murder mystery set at an army camp, but it does feature Karloff styled like Dashiell Hammett with silver-foxy hair and spectacles. It also features Marie Wilson as a newlywed bride, whose comic skills and angelic features are to die for.
Devil’s Island takes place in – you guessed it – the infamous French penal colony known as Devil’s Island. Karloff is a doctor wrongfully accused of treason, who endures hardships, but in the end overcomes adversity. It’s interesting to see Karloff play a sympathetic lead, rather than a deranged killer or mysterious stranger for a change.
Disclaimer: This review is based on a review disc given to me by the Warner Archive, though the opinions are all my own.