Tuesday, April 19, 2011

On Screen -- The Return of Chandu (1934)

Lugosi, Alba, and Kimball-Young
Princess Nadji of Egypt is in danger and only one person can help her, "Frank Chandler", better known as "Chandu the Magician".  With the advent of DVDs and DVD players we've kind of lost the anticipation that was associated with the cliffhanger serials of the 30s and 40s.  Not that it isn't great to be able to watch your favorites whenever you like, but like I said, wondering if your favorite serial character is going to survive whatever peril they're in is now just a fast-forward button push away. 

The "Return of Chandu" is a great example of one of these serials.  Chock full of evil characters and their henchmen, women in danger, secret societies, shipwrecks, and great sets, this serial won't disappoint.  Chandu, who was raised in the East, uses his White Magic to try to save a princess from the clutches of a secret cult and their Black Magic who are going to sacrifice her in order to resurrect the goddess Ossana.  With 12 chapters in all, each chapter (except the last of course) ends in true cliffhanger fashion.  If the jungle sets look familiar, you're right ... they were used a year earlier in the filming of the 1933 action/adventure classic "King Kong". 

Another great vehicle for Bela Lugosi who stars as "Chandu", with Maria Alba as "Princess Nadji", Clara Kimball Young as "Dorothy Regent", and Lucien Prival as "The High Priest".

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