Greatest Film Scenes
and Moments

The Face of Fu Manchu (1965)


Written by Tim Dirks

Title Screen
Movie Title/Year and Scene Descriptions

The Face of Fu Manchu (1965, UK/W.Germ.)

In director Don Sharp's Bond-like action-crime drama (the best of the newest series of films), based upon pulp writer Sax Rohmer's novel about the fiendish Chinese villain - portrayed here and four more times by Christopher Lee from 1966 to 1969 [Note: Earlier actors who played the title character included Warner Oland (1929-1931), Boris Karloff (1932), and Henry Brandon in a 1940 serial]:

  • the opening titles sequence: in the early 1900s in British-ruled China, the courtyard execution of arch criminal Fu Manchu (Christopher Lee) by a face-up beheading, witnessed by his foreign captor and rival Sir Dennis Nayland Smith (Nigel Green); as a drum roll and ominous drum-beat signaled the slow entry of the prisoner, the sentence was read aloud by a robed Chinese official: "In the name of Imperial China, your presence is commanded here to witness an execution. Let the prisoner be brought forward. The prisoner before us - you have been tried and condemned of crimes almost without number. If it had not been for the tireless efforts of the foreigner who is with us today, you might still have escaped our vigilance. Your efforts to build an empire of crime have today brought you to the end you so richly deserve. Let all who envy your thirst for power take note of your fate. Executioner - in the name of Imperial China, death to Fu Manchu!"; thunder and lightning struck as the executioner readied himself to chop off Fu Manchu's head with one swift stroke of a long bladed sword
The Opening Sequence - A Faked Execution
of Fu Manchu (Christopher Lee)
  • the "vivid dream" later related by Fu Manchu's determined macho nemesis - Scotland Yard Ass't Commissioner Nigel Smith - who suspected that Fu Manchu, part of the ongoing crime wave of the "Yellow Peril" in England was still alive - [Note: Fu Manchu had faked his death (with a hypnotized double), and was living in a throne-room lair twenty feet under the Thames River within London's intricate tunnels system]
  • the night-time kidnapping of German chemistry Professor Ernst Muller (Walter Rilla) and the killing of his driver-assistant Mathius (Jim Norton) in a church cemetery by Fu Manchu's Burmese Dacoit assassins - Kali-worshippers wearing red ceremonial Tibetan head bandanas or prayer scarves that functioned as strangulation devices; Muller was abducted because he knew how to distill a poisonous gas from the rare seeds of the "black hill poppy" harvested in Tibet
  • Fu Manchu's plot, aided by his evil daughter Lin Tang (Tsai Chin) and corrupt shipping exporter/importer Hanumon (Peter Mossbacher), was to release the poisonous gas to take over the world by creating "universal death"; after Fu Manchu kidnapped his daughter Maria Muller (Karin Dor), Muller was blackmailed and forced to comply with all of Fu Manchu's demands
  • the girl-on-girl torture and murder sequence of a disloyal and traitorous female by sadistic Lin Tang, who prepared to whip the woman's bare back; the maniacal and sinister Fu Manchu restrained her ("For our purposes, I would prefer her body unmarked"); he ordered the victim to be untied and placed in a glass chamber that he flooded with water from the Thames River above - mercilessly drowning her
Torture and Murder of Traitor by Lin Tang
  • the scene of the extreme hypnotizing of Professor Gaskell (Harry Brogan), who had the written formula for creating the toxic gas; Fu Manchu appeared before him and commanded - with an upraised hand - for ten seconds: "Look at me. (Pause) Your will is subject now to mine. You will do only what I command you to do. Stand up. You will strike your hand against the wall, but you will feel no pain. You will obey me now, until death"
  • the scene of Fu Manchu's interrupted BBC-news radio announcement about his diabolical, tyrannical objective to institute a reign of terror - a "demonstration of power": "Attention! Attention! This is Fu Manchu. Stand by for an important message. I repeat, this is Fu Manchu. In a few days time, I shall speak again to this country and through it to the entire world. What I tell you to do then must be done immediately. Anyone who disobeys will perish. To show you that this is no idle threat, I give you this warning. Remember Fleetwick. I repeat - Remember Fleetwick. That is all"
  • the eerie and mysterious sequence of the gassing and airborne extermination of the entire seacoast Essex town of Fleetwick and its 3,000 inhabitants, after which Smith entered the area and found it littered with corpses, and Fu Manchu's additional broadcast: "Attention, this is Fu Manchu. This is Fu Manchu. Remember Fleetwick. What I have done there I can do again. You know now that I must be obeyed, that I am all-powerful. In two more days, I shall give my commands. They will be carried out at once or ten thousand shall die. Ten thousand. And one particular man. That is all"
  • the scene of the demise of Professor Gaskell who had complied with all of Fu Manchu's demands, and requested: "I'm tired, I want to sleep" - he was handed a dagger and instructed to kill himself: "My will is yours, even unto death" - and he thrust it into his heart
  • the concluding sequences: the discovery of the location of Fu Manchu's underground tunnel headquarters under the Thames River; when it was flooded, he and his daughter fled and hid out in a Tibetan monastery-palace (to resupply himself with the seeds of the "holy flower" - the poppy); a nitroglycerin explosion of the building was set by Smith and associates (who had infiltrated the compound disguised as yellow-hooded priests) - it detonated as they watched on horseback from a distance; the blast presumably killed the villain, although Fu Manchu's echoing voice-over was heard beneath a plume of black smoke: "The world shall hear from me again. The world shall hear from me again"(the film's final line of dialogue)

Sir Dennis Nayland Smith (Nigel Green) with Red Prayer Scarf Worn by Fu Manchu's Followers

Fu Manchu

Kidnapping of Professor Muller

Fu Manchu's Hypnotizing of Professor Gaskell (Harry Brogan)

Fu Manchu's Threatening Radio Broadcast

Gassing and Airborne Extermination of Seacoast Essex Town of Fleetwick

Professor Gaskell's Self-Murder

Concluding Explosion of Fu Manchu's Hide-Out


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