Cast & Crew
Dr. John Benton, in San Francisco following an archaeological expedition in the Mongolian desert, gives a film presentation for his colleagues. The film shows his discovery of the precious ancient tomb of a Ming emperor, for which archaeologists have been searching for centuries. The tomb contains a scroll that tells the secret of the Temple of Eternal Fire, which is of great financial importance to China as it could reveal an enormous untapped reserve of oil. The film of the trip shows a violent windstorm that erupted when the tomb was opened, in keeping with an ancient curse. Mason, the co-pilot on the trip, was lost during the storm, and the expedition party was forced to continue on without him. During the presentation, as Benton is about to reveal the exact contents of the scroll, he chokes and dies. Captain Street of Chinatown Homocide tells Benton's daughter Louise, who was also on the expedition, that her father was poisoned. Win Len, Benton's secretary, who works for the Chinese government, denies any knowledge of the contents of the scroll, which is missing from Benton's safe. Meanwhile, James Lee Wong, a student of Benton's, investigates the case himself and finds the glass cup and pitcher that contained the poison, and Street identifies it as an oriental vegetable poison. While Jimmy and Street view a film of Benton's lecture, Charles Fraser, the expedition's cameraman, receives an anonymous call that lures him away from Benton's house. Win then arrives to search the house, but on a hunch, Fraser returns and is attacked. When Jimmy and Street arrive, they find Win locked in a closet and Fraser injured. Jonas, Benton's butler, is scheming with Mason, who faked his death and now possesses the sacred sarchophagus of the emperor. Street then traces Fraser's phone call to a Chinese restaurant on the waterfront that has a secret room in which Jonas and Mason hide. Mason escapes through a trap door, but Street and Wong find a trinket that Win reveals is a statuette of the "God of Vengeance" and is from the same district as the tomb. Street and Jimmy then find Jonas dead in a coffin, knifed in the chest, but actually killed by poison. Jimmy has headlines printed that claim Jonas lies in St. Christopher's Hospital suffering from tropical fever in order to lure the killer to Mason. Jimmy, wearing a hidden microphone, poses as Mason as the police stake out the hospital. Mason eventually cuts the microphone's wires and enters the room through the window and finds Frazier, who tried to double-cross Mason and broke into Benton's home to find the scroll. Jimmy fights Mason as Street enters with policeman Grady. It is then revealed that Frazier edited out the part of the expedition film that showed the scroll and killed Benton in order to possess the secret of the oil himself. Frazier then killed Jonas because he and Mason were also after the scroll. Although Frazier destroyed the original scroll, Street finds Frazier's photograph of it and returns it to Win so that she may restore it to the Chinese people.
John H. Dilson
Lee Tung Foo
Fred Jackman [jr.]
Jackman Process Corp.
Greetings. Only the eyebrows of youth would have the temerity to call the beard of age at such an hour.- James Lee Wong
This was the first and only of the Wong pictures in which Keye Luke replaced Boris Karloff in the role of Wong, and was the first feature in which Luke had the leading role. This picture was the last in the Wong series. For more information on the series, see the entry for Mr. Wong, Detective above and consult the Series Index.