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4.2 out of 5 stars15
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on September 25, 2012
One of the best thriller films ever. I really don't agree that the lead, Chandu, is rather undynamic. After all, he was trained by yogis and has more to do with using his eyes, voice, and presence in overcoming evil than in appearing like Clark Gable. Lugosi is extremely dynamic, stagey, sometimes over the top, but always commanding of respect as the evil Roxor who is out to destroy the world. The reference to the Death Ray harks back to Tesla and his scientific genius, allegedly having worked out the mechanical plans for a death ray gun. Apparently when this film hit the theaters, the kids were more in love with it than the adults, but to me both kids and adults will find entertainment value here. The music backdrop, with its quasi-sounding Egyptian music and the lush, romantic lovers' theme, round out a great story, marvelously detailed sets and excellent lighting. You are in for a treat!
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on January 24, 2016
Great example of action/adventure in the classic "Raiders of the Lost ark" sense ( predating "Raiders", of course, by almost 50 years.)
The film itself is beautifully art directed by William Cameron Menzies and features a wonderful performance by Lugosi as the villain, NOT the lead character "Chandu."
However, Lugosi did play the character in later serials that featured "Chandu the Magician."
The B&W print used in this DVD is a joy to watch.
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on February 10, 2013
This is what Indiana Jones movies were like in the 30s. With Indian mystics, princesses, ray guns and such, there are more plot elements here than its 70 minutes can cover. However it is entertaining, and was made at a time when Lugosi was still in the ascendant. Indeed, his performance may be considered hammy by today's standards, but he's infinitely more fun than Edmund Lowe as the unconvincing Chandu. Some of the visual effects are quite stunning for 1932.
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VINE VOICEon July 6, 2013
Uncharismatic Edmund Lowe gets top billing, but Bela Lugosi steals the show as the flamboyantly evil Roxor in Fox's big-screen adaptation of the popular radio serial. Director William Cameron Menzies and cinematographer James Wong Howe give "Chandu the Magician" (1932) a visual grandeur that compensates for a flawed script with obtrusive comic relief. Bela's mesmerizing villainy is a wonder to behold. The DVD includes an excellent commentary track by film historian Gregory Mank and a 15-minute "Chandu" featurette.
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VINE VOICEon July 22, 2011
Bela Lugosi (1882-1956) is forever remembered for his role as "Dracula" (1931), a persona he first adopted for the 1927 Broadway play. He was so successful in this genre that he subsequently appeared in dozens of "horror" films like "Murders in the Rue Morgue" (1932), "White Zombie" (1932), "The Black Cat" (1934), "The Raven" (1935), "The Invisible Ray" (1936), etc. He often reprised the Dracula role - "Mark of the Vampire" (1935), "Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein" (1948) - and even played Frankenstein ("Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man") and Dr. Frankenstein's assistant Ygor ("Son of Frankenstein", "The Ghost of Frankenstein"). Unlike his fellow actor, Boris Karloff, Lugosi was never able to make it out of the B horror films, despite a few notable attempts (e.g., "Ninotchka").

"Chandu The Magician" is one of the dozen films that came out following "Dracula". Lugosi got third billing, behind Edmund Lowe and Irene Ware (1910-93), and plays a megalomaniac intent on taking over the world by kidnapping the inventor of a death ray and forcing him to reveal its secrets. The film was based on a popular radio show.

Death rays were a popular subject in the 1920s with several people (including electricity pioneer Nikola Tesla) claiming to have invented the new technology. The concept originated with H.G. Welles in his classic novel "War of the Worlds" (1898), although it may be dated back to the legend of Archimedes using the sun to destroy a fleet of invading ships. The "Tunguska event" in Siberia in 1908 also prompted speculation about a "death ray." In 1929 "Buck Rogers" appeared as a comic strip (the first sci fi strip) and grew into a radio program in 1932. Buck uses "disintegrator beams"

In our film Edmund Lowe (1890-1971) plays Chandu the Magician, turban and all, who is the brother in law of the kidnapped scientist. Lowe made 100+ films between 1915 and 1960, and was most popular in the silent era with films like "What Price Glory" (1926) and "In Old Arizona" (1928).

FWIW - In a 12 part serial "The Return of Chandu" (1934) Lowe was replaced by Lugosi.

Pretty Irene Ware (1910-93) won the Miss USA contest in 1929 and went on to appear in 29 films between 1932 and 1940. She plays an Egyptian Princess inserted as a love interest for Chandu, but with no real plot purpose.

FWIW - This film is one of the few pre1960 films in which people from different races were allowed to have a romance without paying the ultimate price. In "Madame Butterfly" (1932) Asian Sylvia Sydney commits hari kari when Cary Grant marries a white woman. In Frank Capra's "The Bitter Tea of General Yen" (1932) Barbara Stanwyck's suitor, an Asian warlord (Nils Asther) drinks poisoned tea. Even as late as 1957 ("Sayonara"), Red Buttons and Miyoshi Umeki commit suicide because they cannot be together.

William Cameron Menzies (1896-1957) directed this film, but is better known for his art direction for which he won 2 Oscars - "The Dove" (1927), "Tempest" (1928) and was nominated for 3 more. In 1940 he received a special Oscar for his color work on "GWTW" (1939). This was his third of 20 films he directed, the most notable of which were "The Thief of Bagdad" (1940) and "Duel in the Sun" (1946).
Cinematographer James Wong Howe (1899-1976) received 10 Oscar nominations and 2 wins ("Hud" and "The Rose Tattoo"). He started in the silent era and made 130+ films between 1923 and 1975.

1932 was a good year for films - Grand Hotel" was the Oscar and box office king, Jean Harlow had 2 films in the top 10 ("Red Headed Woman" and "Red Dust") as did Miriam Hopkins ("Trouble in Paradise" and "Dr Jekyll and Mr. Hyde") and Wallace Beery ("Champ" and "Grand Hotel"). Other notable films from that year were "I am a Fugitive from a Chain Gang", "Freaks", "A Farewell to Arms", "Scarface", "Horse Feathers" and "Tarzan The Ape Man".

The NY Times said "This is hocus-pocus week at the Roxy, where most of the photographic tricks known to Hollywood have been assembled to startle and confound the enemies of Chandu." They called it "whooping entertainment for the children and a series of naïvely juvenile escapades for the grown-ups."

Yes, this is a 1932 film and it is only a few years outside the silent film era. The acting is terrible and the story is pretty dumb, but the special effects are terrific and some of the camera work is far ahead of its time.
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VINE VOICEon June 30, 2013
Chandu the Magician was a very popular radio program that had various incarnations since the creation of the character in 1931. This film gives Edmund Lowe the title part of a yogi whose mystical talents make him the ideal candidate to battle Roxor (Bela Lugosi), a power hungry madman who wants nothing more than Chandu's brother's death-ray invention so he can wipe out whole cities and make people cower.

The story takes us from the wilds of India to the comforts of a wealthy American home to the Egyptian lair of Roxor. The sets and visuals are spectacular and make this 1932 film seem much more mature and sophisticated than the average film from that year. William Cameron Menzies is a true credit to Chandu the Magician and without his expertise, this likely wouldn't have been as successful a venture. There are laughable moments, such as the end when characters are obviously running through corridors that are projected on a screen in front of them, but the overall fun of this picture makes us overlook its flaws. It delivers thrills and excitement from beginning to end, and it is a wonder the studio didn't make more films in this series with the same cast.
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on August 19, 2011
Lowe is dull as the hero Chandu, which makes one root all the more for Lugosi's campy Roxor. Really great miniature & effects work by co-director William Cameron Menzies; the camera prowls down corridor after corridor till it finds an imprisoned scientist. It's obvious that George Lucas saw this a lot as a kid when he was crafting RAIDERS...
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on November 23, 2015
Wonderful old movie. Excellent image quality. A real treat.
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on December 26, 2014
As advertised with prompt shipping. Thank you.
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on March 2, 2016
Love the oldies - this one's a jem
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