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Chandu the Magician

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Chandu the Magician (1932) starring Bela Lugosi, Edmund Lowe, Irene Ware
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A film version of the popular radio serial, Chandu, The Magician is a fun, entertaining drama with some of the best special effects of its time. Our hero Frank Chandler (Chandu) tries to keep his supernatural powers a secret from his dear sister Dorothy and her family. But Dorothy’shusband have been kidnapped by the villainous Roxor who wants to force him, to reveal the secret of his death ray. Chandu’s magical feats keeps him one step ahead of Roxor. But he falls prey to Roxor when the villain snatches Chandu’s sweetheart, Princess Nadji.

Chandu the Magician (1932) starring Bela Lugosi, Edmund Lowe, Irene Ware

Yogi Teacher: Thou has done well, my son. To few, indeed, of thy race have the secrets of the yogi been revealed.
Chandu – aka Frank Chandler: To you, my teacher, I express my thanks. What more can I learn?
Yogi Teacher: Nothing now. The world needs thee. Go forth in the youth and strength and conquer the evil that threatens Mankind.

Product Description 

Magic, mirth and mystery highlight this tale starring horror legend Bela Lugosi (Dracula, White Zombie) as an evil lunatic set on destroying mankind with a gigantic death-dealing device. Mankind’s only hope is Frank Chandler, a.k.a. Chandu The Magician (Edmund Lowe, Dinner at Eight), who calls upon mystical abilities to fight the megalomaniacal fiend. Adapted from the popular broadcast serial, this creepy classic conjures action and excitement at every turn. Co-starring Irene Ware (The Raven) – Directed by William Cameron Menzies (The Maze, Things to Come) and Marcel Varnel (Convict 99).

Princess Nadji: Have you been married since you last saw me?
Chandu – aka Frank Chandler: That’s one feat of magic that requires a beautiful assistant.

Cast of characters

  • Edmund Lowe (I Love You Again) … Chandu / Frank Chandler. The yogi/magician hero. He’s out to protect the princess, as well as his own family, from Roxor.
  • Irene Ware (The Raven (1935)) … Princess Nadji. Tricked by Rotor, she becomes his prisoner.
  • Bela Lugosi (The Devil Bat; The Return of the Vampire) … Roxor. The heartless villain, willing to stop at nothing to get the working death ray and … rule the world!
  • Herbert Mundin (The Adventures of Robin Hood 1938) … Albert Miggles. Comedy relief, hired by his old military superior, Chandu. Who puts a curse on him so he sees a little man to bother him whenever he’s drunk.
  • Henry B. Walthall (The Devil-Doll) … Robert Regent. Chandu’s brother-in-law. He’s invented a death ray, that can destroy entire cities from vast distances. Which is stolen by Rotor, and he’s kidnapped.
  • Weldon HeyburnAbdulah. Roxor’s right-hand man.
  • June Lang (Meet the Girls) … Betty Lou Regent (as June Vlasek). Chandu’s niece.
  • Michael StuartBobby Regent (as Nestor Aber). Betty & Robert’s son.
  • Virginia Hammond (Romeo and Juliet 1936) … Dorothy Regent. Chandu’s sister.


  • This movie was based on “Chandu the Magician,” a radio show that was airing at the time. Chandu was the basis for many of the later magician characters, including DC’s Sandor the Mystic and Marvel Comics’s Dr. Strange.
  • In the subsequent Chandu serial, producers promoted Lugosi to the role of the magician-yogi.
  • Nigel De Brulier’s yogi was the model for the sorcerer in Disney’s “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice.”

Illusions performed

  • Indian rope trick (thankfully without dismembering the boy who climbed the rope)
  • Fire walking
  • Crystal ball viewing
  • Telekinesis (capturing the would-be kidnapper).
  • Mental control. Compelling a captive to talk, forcing the guard to open the door without the password, etc.
  • Hearing a mystic bell whenever there’s danger.
  • Turning rifles into snakes (apologies to Moses).
  • Disguising himself magically, making a copy of himself, turning the “coins” he paid with into frogs & locusts (more apologies to Moses)
  • Making a fish appear in Miggles’ drink.
  • Buried alive.
  • Houdini-style escape.

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