Chandu the Magician

William Cameron Menzies made his reputation as an art director (on Gone With the Wind, among many other movies), but he also directed a number of very interesting B-movies. With their eccentric rhythms, obsessive imagery, and driving primal force, Invaders From Mars, Address Unknown, and The Maze suggest a naive, demented Fritz Lang. Chandu the Magician (1932) is an early effort, codirected with Broadway recruit Marcel Varnel; I haven't seen it, but the subject matter—a spiritualist battles a mad scientist for possession of a death ray—sounds like something Menzies could respond to. With Edmund Lowe and Bela Lugosi; photographed by James Wong Howe.

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