OUTLAWS OF THE ORIENT. Columbia, 1937. Jack Holt, Mae Clarke, Harold Huber, Ray Walker, James Bush, Joseph Crehan, Harry Worth, Bernice (Beatrice) Roberts). Director: Ernest B. Schoedsack. Shown at Cinecon 44, Hollywood CA, Aug-Sept 2008.


   The program annotator was surprised to find Schoedsack directing this post-Kong quickie (only 61 minutes long). However, whatever its length and place in the hierarchy of Columbia’s releases in 1937, it proved to be an entertaining action film with engineer Holt, reluctantly returning to China to oversee drilling operations for oil, dealing with his problem-ridden brother (ostensibly in charge of the project) and attacks by a desert Warlord (Harold Huber), in the pay of a rival company.

   When I was a wee lad, nobody was better than Jack Holt at projecting iron-jawed determination and bringing off what appears to be an impossible job. The movie zings along, anchored by his solid performance, a screening well-worth staying up for past my usual bedtime.

   The notes claim that the film never made it to television syndication, so this was thought to be its first screening in some 71 years. Lucky Cinecon attendees.