Fu Manchu  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

Dr. Fu Manchu is a fictional character, an evil genius of Chinese origin, first featured in a series of novels by English author Sax Rohmer during the first half of the 20th century. The character was also featured extensively in cinema, television, radio, comic strips, and comic books for over 90 years and has become an archetype of evil criminal genius in such stories as The Castle of Fu Manchu.

Feature films

In 1929 Fu made his American film debut in The Mysterious Dr. Fu Manchu starring Warner Oland, best known for his portrayal of Charlie Chan. Oland repeated the role in 1930's The Return of Dr. Fu Manchu and 1931's Daughter of the Dragon. Oland appeared in character in the 1931 musical, Paramount on Parade where the Devil Doctor was seen to murder both Philo Vance and Sherlock Holmes.

Nevertheless, the most famous early incarnation of the character was The Mask of Fu Manchu (1932) starring Boris Karloff and Myrna Loy. The film's tone has long been considered racist and offensive, but only added to its cult status alongside its humor and Grand Guignol sets and torture sequences. The film was suppressed for many years, but has since received critical re-evaluation and been released on DVD uncut.

Other than an obscure, unauthorized 1946 Spanish film El Otro Fu Manchu, Fu was absent from the big sceen for about twenty five years, until producer Harry Alan Towers and his company, Towers of London, began a series starring Christopher Lee in 1965. Towers and Lee would make one Fu Manchu film per year through the end of the decade: The Face of Fu Manchu (1965), The Brides of Fu Manchu (1966), The Vengeance of Fu Manchu (1967), The Blood of Fu Manchu (1968), and finally The Castle of Fu Manchu (1969)

His last authorized film appearance was The Fiendish Plot of Dr. Fu Manchu, a 1980 spoof starring Peter Sellers as both Fu Manchu and Nayland Smith. The film, taking place in contemporary times bore little connection to any prior film or the original books. However Peter Sellers' characterisation of Fu Manchu and Nayland Smith were aged as the characters of the Harry Alan Towers films set in the late 1920s would have been, and seems to fit in with the Towers series. In the film, Fu Manchu claims he was knows as "Fred" at public school, a reference to the aforementioned "Fred Fu Manchu" from the Goon Show.

Jess Franco, who had directed The Blood of Fu Manchu and The Castle of Fu Manchu, also directed the second of three Towers films based on Rohmer's Sumuru character, The Girl from Rio and an unauthorized 1986 Spanish film about Fu Manchu's daughter, Esclavas del Crimen.

Nicolas Cage cameos as Fu Manchu in Rob Zombie's faux trailer Werewolf Women of the SS, which is part of the 2007 film Grindhouse.

Harry Alan Towers has several times announced unsuccessful plans to revive the character since the early 1970s, most recently at Cannes in 2007.




Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Fu Manchu" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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