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.


About Marya E. Gates

Cinephile to the max.

Posted on January 29, 2013, in DVDs and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

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