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The Black Camel

USA 1931
produced by
Fox Film
directed by Hamilton MacFadden
starring Warner Oland, Bela Lugosi, Robert Young, Victor Varconi, J.M. Kerrigan, Marjorie White, Mary Gordon, C.Henry Gordon, Robert Homans, Dwight Frye, Sally Eilers, Violet Dunn, Dorothy Revier, Richard Tucker, Murray Kinnell, Otto Yamaoka, Rita Rozelle, William Post jr, Louise Mackintosh, Hamilton MacFadden
screenplay by Barry Conners, Philip Klein, Dudley Nichols, Hugh Stanislaus Stange, based on the novel by Earl Derr Biggers

Charlie Chan, Charlie Chan (Warner Oland), Charlie Chan at Fox

review by
Mike Haberfelner

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Hawaii: Actress Shelah Fane (Dorothy Revier) is madly in love with Alan Jaynes (William Post jr) - but won't let him propose to her until she has spoken to Tarneverro (Bela Lugosi), her personal psychic. Interestingly enough, Tarneverro is against the marriage, so Shelah breaks off with Alan altogether ... and a few hours later she is found dead.

There are of course suspects a dime a dozen, like Alan of course, then Robert (Victor Varconi), her ex-husband who was seen at the scene of the crime approximately when the murder has happened, Julie (Sally Eilers), Shelah's best friend and companion, who is hiding vital evidence, and Jessop, Shelah's butler who seems to be slightly mad (and what else can he be, being played by Dwight Frye). And how about Tarneverro himself, who seems to have some personal agenda ?

Charlie Chan (Warner Oland) however who is investigating the case, has some different ideas altogether, as he links the case to the old, unsolved murder of a man who was alleged to be Shelah's lover ...

Then, to everybody's surprise, Robert confesses to the murder but Charlie Chan proves his innocence, upon which Smith (Murray Kinnell), a penniless painter, tries to blackmail Robert, but is killed by a person unknown.

Ultimately, Chan finds out that Tarneverro is the brother of Shelah's murdered lover, and he has evidence that Shelah did indeed murder him - but it wasn't him who killed Shelah but Anna (Violet Dunn), Shelah's innocent-looking maid who was really the dead mans wife just looking for evidence against Shelah - and when she found it, her temper got the better of her and ... there goes Shelah ...

But who then killed Smith ?

Jessop the mad butler of course, who knew who Anna really was but was madly in love with her, and when he thought Smith had evidence against her, he just had to kill him ... but thanks to Charlie Chan, all the baddies get their just desserts ...

In a time before Charlie Chan had his numerous sons (and some daughters as well) to help him, Otto Yamaoka plays his inept assistand Koshima.


Like most Charlie Chan films produced by Fox, this one is an entertaining murder mystery that features just the right mix between crime drama and light comedy and that doesn't take itself too seriously - which is why its slightly over-convoluted plot is absolutely forgiveable. Of course, that doesn't make The Black Camel a genre classic, but still a highly enjoyable film.


review © by Mike Haberfelner


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Robots and rats,
demons and potholes,
cuddly toys and
shopping mall Santas,
love and death and everything in between,
Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

is all of that.


Tales to Chill
Your Bones to
a collection of short stories and mini-plays
ranging from the horrific to the darkly humourous,
from the post-apocalyptic
to the weirdly romantic,
tales that will give you a chill and maybe a chuckle, all thought up by
the twisted mind of
screenwriter and film reviewer
Michael Haberfelner.


Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

the new anthology by
Michael Haberfelner


Out now from




On the same day
a Burglar wants to kill you
and your Ex wants
to make up ...
... and for the life of it,
you can't decide


A Killer Conversation

produced by and starring
Melanie Denholme
directed by
David V.G. Davies
written by
Michael Haberfelner
Ryan Hunter and
Rudy Barrow

out now on DVD