“When a young woman’s nerves commence to give way, it is time she sought refuge in a strong man’s arms.” “I just ran into yours.” “Mine might be dangerous.”
Dr. Bill Saunders (George Pembroke) is having a dinner party. His guests are five prominent men in society. While the six men are enjoying a smoke after dinner, a man comes to the house wanting to see the doctor. His name is Monsieur Colomb (Bela Lugosi). The next day Dr. Saunders’ niece, Alice (Joan Barclay) returns home. Mr. Colomb is now staying at the house and her uncle is said to be ill and wishes to see no one.
Soon one of the men from the dinner party is found dead in front of the Japanese consulate. In his hand a Japanese dagger. The other men from the dinner party are starting to get a little uneasy about this turn of events.
The six prominent men who were at the dinner party are actually part of Japan’s Black Dragon Society. Their objective is to sabotage American defense systems. They have assumed the identities of some prominent bankers, doctors and businessmen.
FBI agent Dick Martin (Clayton Moore) is assigned the case. He tries to visit Dr. Saunders but is unable to see him. No one is allowed to see him. Even his lovely niece Alice hasn’t seen him. Martin is suspicious of the Saunders’ house guest Dr. Colomb but has nothing to go on.
Then another body turns up, also with a dagger in his hand. After that two more of the dinner guests are both dumped at the same time in front of the embassy. Both, again, with Japanese daggers in their hands. Now we are down to the two remaining terrorists when things get really good.
“Black Dragons” was released in 1942 and was directed by William Nigh. It is a poverty row film and the third of Bela Lugosi’s Monogram nine films. The movie was released in March of 1942. Pearl Harbor was attacked by the Japanese in December 1941. The film was rushed into production after the attack. Filming began in January. One month after the bombing. The original working title of the film was “The Yellow Menace”.
The film takes place before the attack. The Black Dragon Society represents a Japanese cabal. Their aim is to infiltrate the higher echelons of United States industry and create havoc. With their disguises impenetrable they can go about the business of destruction without the fear of being caught or even suspected.
This is Bela Lugosi's only spy movie. Unfortunately, by now, Lugosi’s debilitating arthritis caused his dependence on morphine. He still manages to put on a good performance as the vengeful Monsieur Colomb. Lugosi plays a dual role in this film for the second time. At least technically. There isn’t enough of him in the second role to show what he can do with a dual role.
His first was in “Murder by Television” 1935. Also, in the film “The Invisible Ghost” 1941 he plays a man with two personalities. In several movies he plays characters with alter egos. “The Bowery at Midnight” 1942 and “The Human Monster” 1939, are two of his most prominent ones. Lugosi is good at switching from one character to another in an instant.
The plot of the film gets a little confusing toward the end. There are a few twists and perhaps a couple downright “whats?” But if you hang in there, it’s worth it. The movie is quite good. It’s pure propaganda, but it’s also very enjoyable.