Dr Fu Manchu meets Hitler

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Dr. Fu Manchu

I'm a fan of Sax Rohmer's old Fu Manchu novels. Wouldn't claim they are very good. The novels of stuffy, lots of unappealing British imperialism, the importance of the white race and kindred detritus happily swept into the waste bin.

Though I may undervalue Sir Dennis Nayland Smith's never ceasing hysteria. While you were wading through romantic twaddle, worrisome noble subjects of the Crown his frequent "Stand fast Petrie!" and " the most fiendish menace !" did keep the pace up.

After all we're merely passing time for an appearance of Dr. Fu Manchu. Possibly Rohmer's own xenophobia was part of what made Fu Manchu believable as a ruthless, omni-competent, superstitious, unfailingly honorable mastermind bent on world domination.

I've sampled Doctor Fu Manchu in every incarnation. Can't remember a single panel from the comic books or strips. The Hammer movies with Christopher Lee, who could've easily been fine as Oriental villainy incarnate - few b-movie actors achieved more just by standing straight and looking impassive - if the director hadn't be the inhumanly boring Franco. I did enjoy the Boris Karloff serial but have to own it is hard for me to not enjoy Karloff doing almost anything.

There was a Fu Manchu TV show in the fifties. I've watched part of the four episode DVD put out by oldies.com. The episode with Hitler captures it all.

Fu Manchu captures a plastic surgeon to reshape Hitler's face. It goes downhill from there. The surgeon is inevitably a pal of Dr. Petrie's. When Petrie goes looking for his friend he doesn't recognize the Oriental servant he saw in the last (and surely every) episode. Once the surgery is complete they all leave for a secret island making Hitler's new face wholly pointless.

Back then Hitler would come back from the dead, prove to still be alive regularly in lowbrow popular culture. His simple appearance was expected to shake civilization to its knees. Back when the memory of Nazi Germany and WWII were more vivid there may have been a need to think of Hitler as a perverted genius. Nowadays we know him as a nut that happened to be the worst possible convergence of historical forces and personality.

I don't regret spending time with the TV Doctor Fu Manchu. Unless you are a fan of serial characters, early television or Fu Manchu you'd probably nod off.

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