Black Dragons (1942)

black dragons poster 1942 movie
5.0 Overall Score
Story: 6/10
Acting: 5/10
Visuals: 5/10

Interesting story

Story is played out too quickly, generic look and cast

Movie Info

Movie Name:  Black Dragons

Studio:  Sam Katzman Productions

Genre(s):  Mystery/Suspense/Sci-Fi/Fantasy

Release Date(s):  March 6, 1942

MPAA Rating:  Not Rated

black dragons bela lugosi japanese spies

Spy vs. Spy!

A group of business men hold a secret…they are Japanese agents working to undermine the American war effort.  When a man named Monsieur Colomb (Bela Lugosi) shows up, the agents begin to die…but government officials see them only as American businessmen.  Dick Martin (Clayton Moore) is sent to investigate the case and finds himself teamed with Alice Saunders (Joan Barclay), the niece of Dr. Bill Saunders (George Pembroke), to uncover the truth.  Monsieur Colomb is continuing his killing spree and the truth will come out!

Directed by William Nigh, Black Dragons is a World War II mystery thriller.  The film was original titled The Yellow Menace and is in the public domain.

Black Dragons was part of a movie box set.  I decided to see movie years after I got it and thought that I’d casually watch it…and I didn’t understand much of what was happening.  For a movie that is just over an hour, the film is amazing complex…and the plot takes more concentration than a lot of similar movies.

black dragons bela lugosi

I’m here to complicate the plot!

There are so many factors involved in the story.  The evil Japanese infiltrators are already establish at the beginning of the film and their conspiracy and identities are a little vague at the beginning of the film (especially since they look like generic white businessmen).  The role of Lugosi is also in question and if he’s a hero or a villain is also up in the air since he is killing Japanese men trying to betray the U.S.  In addition, you get the weird face surgery, the impersonation of Lugosi, and the totally random replacement of Alice Saunders with a detective.

The cast is what you’d expect, but Bela Lugosi always brings the fun.  Lugosi’s character is a complete mystery…he has scientific abilities and skills that are still not possible today.  Clayton Moore and Joan Barclay are the shiny low-rent detective characters who could have been filled by anyone at the time (as long as they were pretty).

black dragons ending

The horror!

The movie is often in pretty bad condition when you find it.  It is often grainy and choppy…but the film was colorized in the 1990s.  In its low-grade condition, the film has a bit of charm added to it that might not exist with an HD edition or if someone really went in and restored it.

Black Dragons is a quick and somewhat interesting film.  It feels like it should be background fluff but actually takes concentration to explore and follow.  It feels like a movie that actually could have been expanded by thirty minutes to even an hour to really flesh out the plot and characters (and in turn make some of the decisions in the movie feel less ridiculous).

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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