The Master Plan of Dr. Fu Manchu (1956)

The Adventures of Dr. Fu Manchu: Episode 11

The Master Plan of Dr. Fu Manchu

Country: United States
Director: William Witney
Starring: Glen Gordon, Lester Matthews, Clark Howat, Carla Balenda, Alan Dexter, Steven Geray, Laurette Luez, John George
Based on characters created by Sax Rohmer

Television has come a long way, and this episode of the Fu Manchu television series is pretty hard going. Most of this is primarily to do with Glen Gordon as Fu Manchu. He is not charismatic, and his clipped, quasi Chinese delivery is pretty dire. At least this episode has a pretty wild premise fro the plot — and that is that Adolph Hitler did not die at the end of the War in Europe, but in fact escaped and has been living on an unchartered island in the Pacific. That is, until now. He has teamed up with the Devil Doctor, and together they plan to rule the world [insert evil maniacal laughter fading into the distance].

As this episode opens Fu Manchu is watching some film footage of Hitler and the Nazi war machine in action. He is pretty impressed. He immediately sends out one of his minions to kidnap Dr. Harlow Henderson (Alan Dexter), who is a world renowned plastic surgeon. Henderson is brought before Fu Manchu and forced to alter the features of Adolph Hitler. Henderson’s disappearance doesn’t go un-noticed, and his secretary, Betty Leonard (Carla Balenda) contacts Dr. Petrie (Clark Howat). Petrie, without the aid of his good friend Nayland Smith, goes to investigate. From an indentation on a notepad — you know where they rub a pencil over the page to see what had been written on the top sheet — Petrie discovers where Henderson went, but he too is caught and brought before the evil Doctor. This doesn’t bode well for Henderson. With two doctors on the scene, he is no longer required. It is Henderson rather than Petrie, because Henderson knows too much, and can identify the altered Fuehrer. To Petrie, Hitler is just a man swathed in bandages — he has no idea of what is going on.

So Henderson is killed and his body ios dumped in a river, but Fu Manchu’s minions are seen by the police in the act. Henderson’s body is soon recovered, and an autopsy report shows that he died from the venom of a rare spider (Tarantula Maximus). This tiny piece of information alerts Nayland Smith to the involvement of the most evil man alive, Fu Manchu.Nayland Smith takes on the case, attempting to track down his friend, Dr. Petrie, the evil Fu Manchu, and a bandaged madman who has a new plan to take over the world.

This episode may be silly, far-fetched pulpy nonsense, but really I wouldn’t have it any other way. I would like a bit more character development, but these episodes only go for around twenty-five minutes, so the time is spent delivering fast paced thrills.

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