Charlie Chan at the Opera
20th Century Fox
directed by H. Bruce Humberstone
starring Warner Oland, Boris Karloff, Keye Luke, William Demarest, Guy Usher, Margaret Irving, Gregory Baye, Nedda Harrigan, Frank Conroy, Charlotte Henry, Thomas Beck, Maurice Cass
written by Charles Belden, Scott Darling, based on characters created by Earl Derr Biggers, music by William Kernell, Oscar Levant, from the opera Carnival
Charlie Chan, Charlie Chan (Warner Oland), Number One Son Lee Chan, Charlie Chan at Fox
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Charlie Chan (Warner Oland), his Number One Son (Keye Luke), inspector
Regan (Guy Usher) & sergeant Kelly (William Demarest) are invetigating
the case of an escaped madman, the opera singer Gravelle (Boris Karloff),
which leads them to an opera house. Curiously enough, a death threat has
been sent to Lili Rochelle (Margaret Irving), the primadonna of the
current production, Carnival, and Gravelle is really in the house,
but not only that, he overpowers the lead tenor Borelli (Gregory Gaye) of
the opera, slips into his stage outfit & sings his part. Soon after
that, both Borelli & Lili Rochelle are found dead, & Gravelle is a
tailormade suspect. But he seems to know the opera house wioth all its
secret trap doors & passageways too well to be caught.
Only eventually does Charlie Chan stumble over him, but instead of
arresting him, he offers him the opportunity to also sing the finale of
the opera ... where he, at the climax, when he reaches for his knife, is
shot & seriously wounded by a police marksman ...
However, some further deductions by Chan reveal that Gravelle wasn't
the murderer at all, but Anita (Nedda Harrigan), Borelli's wife, who has
found out about her husband's affair with Lili Rochelle - who in fact was
Gravelle's ex-wife -, & got rid of her hubby & Lili both, with
Gravelle - about whose visit only she knew beforehand - as a tailormade
An in a good way old-fashioned murder mystery, where the always
reliable Boris Karloff plays the (in the end innocent) madman with all the
suitable menace, and Warner Oland doing his usual good impression of a
Chinaman. Some of William Demarest's pejorative comments about the Chinese
might not be politically correct anymore from today's point of view, but
overall, it's a good entry into the Charlie Chan-series.