The Return of Chandu (1934)

Feature version of the serial THE RETURN OF CHANDU
Article 3665 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 8-12-2011
Posting Date: 8-27-2011
Directed by Ray Taylor
Featuring Bela Lugosi, Maria Alba, Lucien Prival
Country: USA
What it is: Mystic powers melodrama

Frank Chandler (aka Chandu) must use all of his magic powers to save an Egyptian princess from being sacrificed by the cult of Ubasti.

You can’t really judge this “feature version of a serial” along the same lines as many of the others; unlike a lot of them, the serial was actually shot so that the first four episodes could be easily edited together as a self-contained feature, which gave the distributors options on how they could market the story. As a result, the movie doesn’t have that jagged feel I’ve come to expect from the form; it flows smoothly and coherently. It is, however, a bit static and creaky. Nevertheless, I really noticed how much Lugosi’s performance in the title role makes it all work; he gives his character so much conviction that you just enjoy seeing him at work. Having seen both the serial and the two features culled from it, I’d have to say that the features are preferable in this case; the serial itself gets rather repetitive during the middle sections.


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