Chandu the Magician (1932) is a mystery film starring Edmund Lowe as a Magician/Yogi secret agent, Frank Chandler and Bela Lugosi as the megalomaniac villain Roxor, that he must stop. Based on the radio play of the same name, written by Harry A. Earnshaw, Vera M. Oldham and R.R. Morgan. The radio series ran from 1932 to 1933 and Fox obtained the rights hoping the film would appeal to a ready-made audience. In 1934 Chandu returned in a twelve part serial, The Return of Chandu, only this time Bela Lugosi played Chandu.
Frank Chandler had learned eastern magics
from the Yogis
in India and is now known as Chandu. He has the power to teleport
, astral project
, as well as project illusions. With these supernatural abilities he has been entrusted to "go forth with his youth and strength to conquer the evil that threatens mankind." Specifically, a Egyptian villain known as Roxor, played by Bela Lugosi
. Roxor kidnaps Chandu's brother-in-law, Robert Regent, an inventor who has developed a death ray with a range that covers half way round the world. Chandu must use his entire bag of tricks to rescue not only his brother-in-law but his sister and their children, whom Roxor has kidnapped in order to compel Regent into revealing the secrets of the death ray. Chandu's sweetheart Egyptian Princess Nadji also gets kidnapped, leaving Chandu to ponder whom to rescue first.
Using his Yogi abilities, Chandu makes daring escapes, including one from an submerged sarcophagus. Eventually he succeeds rescuing everyone and mesmerizing Roxor long enough to destroy the death ray and the villain's entire lair.
William Cameron Menzies
who had done exemplary work as art director on The Thief of Bagdad
(1924), employs every special effect trick of the trade, many miniatures, optical effects, dry for wet to create a visually exciting film.