The Chinatown Mystery (1928)

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Low-budget firm Syndicate Film Exchange ventured into the hurly-burly world of action serials with The Chinatown Mystery, starring former strongman Joe Bonomo. The famous salt-water taffy heir played Joe Masters, a Secret Service agent battling the evil Sphinx, a master criminal attempting to obtain a formula for making diamonds. This obviously valuable piece of information is in the possession of lovely Sally Warren (Ruth Hiatt), who, of course, survives peril after peril until the final chapter, "The Thirteenth Hour." The blond Hiatt, a WAMPAS baby star of 1924, was better known for her comedy work opposite the likes of Syd Chaplin and the Three Stooges than for this forgettable chapterplay. Besides the pretty Ruth Hiatt, The Chinatown Mystery employed such erstwhile favorites as Francis Ford, Paul Panzer (of Perils of Pauline fame), the husband-and-wife team of Harry Myers and Rosemary Theby, Sheldon Lewis, Grace Cunard, Helen Gibson, Peggy O'Day, and the producer/director himself, J.P. McGowan.