In filming the scene where Fu Manchu injects his mind control drug into Terry Granville's neck, 'Boris Karloff (I)' actually pushed the syringe into a baked potato, which was lying on the table next to Charles Starrett's head, out of camera range. However, each time Karloff pressed the plunger down, the potato would explode. This happened on several takes, until Karloff and Starrett couldn't do the scene without laughing. Director Charles Brabin finally gave up and dismissed the two actors for the day, saying, "Never mind! We'll shoot it tomorrow morning!"
It took MGM makeup artist Cecil Holland 2.5 hours every morning to apply makeup to Boris Karloff for this role.
Long shots reveal that Boris Karloff is wearing platform shoes, which is why he is taller than all his costars.
As originally scripted, during the torture sequence, it was planned to have Von Berg (Jean Hersholt) suspended over the crocodile pit and Neyland Smith (Lewis Stone) about to be impaled by the walls of spikes. This was reversed when, for reasons unknown, it was thought that a fat captive would make more sense being impaled than a thin one.
According to the book "The Films of Myrna Loy" by Lawrence J. Quirk: "She recalls that she and Karloff decided between themselves that the only intelligent way that this movie could possibly be played was subtly tongue-in-cheek."
This was the only time that Myrna Loy worked with Boris Karloff; she had already worked with Bela Lugosi in 1930's "Renegades," and would conquer her 'femme fatale' typecasting by 1934's "The Thin Man".
In an early scene, Sir Lionel Barton is kidnapped by Fu Manchu's henchmen masquerading as mummies in the British Museum. The scene was remarkably prescient for star Boris Karloff, who plays Fu Manchu in this film. Karloff's very next role was the titular mummy in The Mummy (1932), one of his most iconic performances.
Boris Karloff actually wore a Chinese woman's wedding dress as costume.
MGM once considered Clark Gable for the part later played by Charles Starrett.
Charles Vidor started directing this movie but was fired after a few days of shooting and replaced by Charles Brabin. Filmed August 6-October 21 1932, after "The Old Dark House" and before "The Mummy."
In the scene where Fu Manchu waves the sword through an electrical array, Kenneth Strickfaden takes the place of Boris Karloff as Fu Manchu.
Johnny Mack Brown had been mentioned for the role of Granville, but his MGM contract was not renewed at the end of 1931 and Charles Starrett won the role.
This was the last in a long cycle of Oriental roles for Myrna Loy.
Both Gertrude Michael and Herbert Bunston are in studio production charts for the movie The Mask of Fu Manchu (1932), but neither were seen in the movie.
Lawrence Grant had previously appeared in another "Fu Manchu" movie, Daughter of the Dragon (1931), starring Warner Oland as Fu Manchu.
This film was a modest success at the box office for MGM, showing a profit of $61,000 (nearly $1.1M in 2016) according to studio records.
This film received its initial television broadcast in Los Angeles Monday 18 November 1957 on KTTV (Channel 11), followed by San Francisco 11 February 1958 on KGO (Channel 7), Philadelphia 23 April 1958 on WFIL (Channel 6), and, finally, New York City 11 November 1958 on WCBS (Channel 2).