The Face of Fu Manchu
The Face of Fu Manchu – 1965 | 89 mins | Adventure | Colour
The Face of Fu Manchu is a spirited adventure thriller from maverick producer Harry Alan Towers based on Sax Rohmer’s fiendish Yellow Peril. Don Sharp directs with great invention and a nice sense of period atmosphere. Christopher Lee plays it straight as the ice-cold Fu, following confidently in the footsteps of Boris Karloff and would reappear in four increasingly dismal sequels. Nigel Green is magnificently composed as Nayland Smith; Fu’s nemesis from Scotland Yard. The film was shot in County Wicklow.
After watching the execution of Oriental arch-villain, Fu Manchu (Christopher Lee), Scotland Yard inspector Nayland Smith (Nigel Green) returns to London to take up a restful desk job. But Nayland Smith is ill at ease, there’s a crime wave across Europe and he suspects there’s a master criminal behind it. Following a nearby robbery, a man is found strangled by a Tibetan prayer scarf – the sign of Fu Manchu’s henchmen at work.
The dead man was a servant of German biochemist Professor Muller (Walter Rilla), and when Nayland discovers that the scientist had spent time studying in Tibet – he decides to investigate. Muller was experimenting with the seeds of the black mountain poppy, a pint of which could kill millions, and now the professor has been kidnapped by Fu Manchu and put to work on perfecting a poison gas. Muller declares that Professor Gaskell (Harry Brogan) at the Museum of Oriental Studies possesses the papers required to formulate the poison.
Fu Manchu sets his sights on stealing the papers, whilst Nayland Smith clashes with officious museum director, Sir Charles Fortesque (James Robertson Justice) over the seriousness of the threat. When Fortesque eventually checks the safe – the paper are missing. Soon, from his secret HQ under the Thames, Fu Manchu is broadcasting a threat that Fleetwick in Essex will be a demonstration of his power. Days later, the population of Fleetwick and the troops guarding it are killed by an airborne poison gas. Fu is always one step ahead, but that so many of his crimes are perpetrated in the vicinity of the Thames, leads Nayland Smith to his lair.
Don Sharp: Director
Frank White: Art Direction
Sax Rohmer: Characters
Ernest Steward: Cinematography
John Trumper: Film Editing
Anne Box: Makeup Department
Gerry Fletcher: Makeup Department
Christopher Whelen: Original Music
Harry Alan Towers: Producer
Harry Alan Towers: Script
Ken Cameron: Sound
Fred Hughesdon: Sound