MORTON, Guy




Author Tags: 1900-1950, Chinese, Fiction, Film

Guy Eugene Morton's coastal mystery, The Black Robe (1927), was published in England as King of the World, or The Pommeray Case. According to UBC researcher Margaret Waddington, it was the subject for the second 'talkie' ever financed and filmed outside of Hollywood. The story was set in Vancouver and the movie production was filmed near Victoria at Willow Park. Directed by Fred C. Newmeyer, the 54-minute, black & white mystery about devil worship and a Chinese-related crime wave appeared in 1934 as Secrets of Chinatown, produced by Kenneth J. Bishop. A beautiful white girl named Zenobia works at Chan Tow Ling's curiosity shop and officiates at cult ceremonies for the evil Order of the Black Robe. According to film critic Peter Morris, the film was technically crude, it offended Chinese British Columbians and it was a box-office disaster. Morris has summarized the plot: "After two men – Brandham (James Flavin) and Dovercourt (John Barnard) – disappear in Victoria’s Chinatown, a baffled police commissioner (James McGrath) brings in private detective Donegal Dawn (Raymond Lawrence) to assist in the case. His young friend Robert Rande (Nick Stuart) is attracted to Zenobia (Lucille Browne), a blonde woman who works in a Chinese curio shop. When Rande is threatened by a gang of Chinese opium smugglers, he discovers they are operating out of a temple and goes there to find a drugged Zenobia taking part in a religious ceremony. His attempt to rescue her is foiled and he only escapes when Dawn rescues him. When Rande returns to the temple he is attacked by a drugged Brandham. Dawn again saves Rande and rescues Brandham, who, with the help of a yogi (Arthur Legge-Willis), reveals another secret hideout. Dawn goes there to rescue Rande and Zenobia but is himself captured. The police arrive and the leader of the gang is revealed to be Chan Tow Ling (Harry Hastings), the owner of the curio shop and supposedly an undercover police agent."

Guy Morton was born in York Township, Ontario in 1884. He taught school for three years and worked for many years as a reporter for the Toronto Daily Star and the Globe & Mail. He died in 1948.

BOOKS:

The Enemy Within (Baltimore: Saulsbury, 1918).
Rangy Pete (Boston: Small Maynard, 1922).
Black Gold (Boston: Small Maynard, 1924).
Wards of the Azure Hills (London: Hoddard, 1926).
The Black Robe (New York: Minton, Balch, 1927). Also published in England as King of the World, or, The Pommeray Case (London: Hodder, 1927).
The Forbidden Road (London: Hodder, 1928).
Zola's Thirteen (London: Skeffinton, 1929).
Perrin Murder Case (London: Skeffington, 1930).
Red Lady (London: Skeffington, 1930).
Mystery at Hermit's End (London: Skeffington, 1932).
Scarlet Thumbprint (London: Skeffington, 1932).
Silver-Voiced Murder (London: Skeffington, 1933).
Murder (London: Skeffington, 1934).
Ashes for Murder (London: Skeffington, 1935).
The Ragged Robin Murders (New York: Greenberg, 1935?).
Burleigh Murders (London: Skeffington, 1936).
Mystery at Hardacres (London: Skeffington, 1936).

[BCBW 2006] "Fiction" "Chinese" "1900-1950" "Movie"