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Charlie Chan in Honolulu

USA 1938
produced by
Sol M. Wurtzel for 20th Century Fox
directed by H.Bruce Humberstone
starring Sidney Toler, Phyllis Brooks, Victor Sen Yung, Eddie Collins, John 'Dusty' King, Claire Dodd, George Zucco, Robert Barrat, Marc Lawrence, Richard Lane, Layne Tom jr, Philip Ahn, Paul Harvey, Eugene Hoo, Frances Hoo, Hippie Hoo, Florence Ung
screenplay by Charles Belden, based on characters created by Earl Derr Biggers, music by Samuel Kaylin

Charlie Chan, Charlie Chan (Sidney Toler), Charlie Chan at Fox

review by
Mike Haberfelner

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Since his dad Charlie Chan (Sidney Toler) is temporarily indisposed, his wannabe private investigator number two son Jimmy (Victor Sen Yung) decides to try and solve a murder aboard a freighgt ship on his own - but it's not long before he's almost thrown overboard and only saved by the timely arrival of his dad ...

The case under investigation unfolds itself like this: Miss Hayes (Phyllis Brooks), an attorney's assistant, was to hand over a huge sum of money to a certain man, but that certain man who's a complete stranger, was shot dead at the handover, and no trace concerning his identity can be found on him. The killer however did not try to tear the money oujt of Miss Hayes' hands, instead later steals it from her room.

Charlie sees himself confronted with a shipload of suspects, like a mad professor (George Zucco) who collects brains of criminals and keeps one alive using come complicated machinery, two gangsters (Marc Lawrence, Richard Lane), one of whom is dressing up as a policemandelivering the other to Honolulu, the first mate (John Dusty King) who has gotten quite chummy with Miss Hayes, and then there's of course Miss Hayes herself, because why wouldn't she be tempted to steal a large sum of money that has been entrusted to her, right? But more suspicious than any of them is a certain Mrs Wayne (Claire Dodd), who remains incredibly evasive during questioning, and who eventually turns out to be the wife of the dead man who is presently trying to get a divorce and her hands on his money ... but then she is found murdered!

Eventually, Charlie sets up a trap, confronting all the suspects with the murder weapon, counting on it that somebody will turn out the lights and try to steal it - which is exactly what happens, but Charlie has connected the murder weapon to a photo camera with flashlight that goes off when the weapon is as much as touched, and it takes a perfect photo of the actual killer - the captain (Robert Barrat) of the freighter, for whom the lump of money was just too tempting, expectially after Mrs Wayne made him her accomplice, but he got rid of her when he no longer needed her.


After the death of Warner Oland, this was the first Charlie Chan movie with Sidney Toler in the lead - and to tell you the truth, he comes across as a rather decent replacement. Also, Chan's son Keye Luke is replaced by Victor Sen Yung - and he's a bit of a letdown in comparison to Luke, failing to play the role with the same mixture of comedy and dignity ... and apart from that, Luke quite simply was the better actor.

All that said, Toler's introduction into the series is a rather entertaining yet pretty routine series movie, certainly no highlight of the series but decent entertainment nevertheless.


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