Fu Manchu is author Sax Rohmer's most famous creation and one that he returned to repeatedly over the years eventually writing a total of thirteen novels detailing his insidious plots for world domination. From the first serialized section of the first Fu tale published in 1913 the stories were very popular, well regarded adventures tales. Such a widely known villainous character was sure to inspire filmmakers to adapt him to the screen and from 1923's THE MYSTERY OF DR. FU MANCHU to 1980's comedic take THE FIENDISH PLOT OF DR. FU MANCHU different producers have brought his evil machinations to cinematic life with varied levels of success. For a longer time than seems plausible the specter of the Yellow Peril loomed large enough to make an Asian master criminal bent on conquest seem a credible threat for both page and film.
In this episode of The Bloody Pit Brian Lindsey and I discuss the character's various film incarnations with special concentration on Karloff's scenery chewing villainy in MGM's lavish THE MASK OF FU MANCHU (1932) and Christopher Lee's 1965 to 1969 five film run as a more accurate version of the character for producer Harry Allan Towers. We also touch on the novels, the 1940 Republic serial and the last (so far) big screen attempt to use Fu in Peter Sellers' final film in which the star plays both Fu and his nemesis Sir Nayland Smith. We both fear that the possibilities of a modern adaptation of these Sax Rohmer stories are next to nil but we do give a few suggestions about what would be necessary to accomplish such a difficult (and probably financially ruinous) task.