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Charlie Chan in the Secret Service

USA 1944
produced by
James S. Burkett, Philip N. Krasne for Monogram
directed by Phil Rosen
starring Sidney Toler, Mantan Moreland, Arthur Loft, Gwen Kenyon, Lelah Tyler, Benson Fong, Marianne Quon, Sarah Edwards, George J.Lewis, Muni Seroff, Barry Bernard, Gene Roth, Eddie Chandler, John Elliott
written by George Callahan, based on characters by Earl Derr Biggers

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

review by
Mike Haberfelner

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Scientist Melton (John Elliott) has developed a new torpedo & is thus put under strict surveillance by the gouvernment (World War II was still on back then, you know). But then he receives some guests for a cocktail party ... & dies, presumably of natural causes. The plans for his torpedo are gone, naturally ...

Soon the Secret Service sends his top investigator Charlie Chan (Sidney Toler), who soon finds himself steeping in suspects like eccentric housekeeper Mrs Hargue (Sarah Edwards), Arranto (George J.Lewis) - a disabled man who really can walk -, Vega (Gene Roth), who looks just too suspicious to have nothing to do with it, overly nervous Peter Laska (Muni Seroff), or naive Mrs Winters (Lelah Tyler). & then there's of course Chan's own number 3 son (Benson Fong) & number 2 daughter (Marianne Quon), as well as frightened delivery boy Birmingham (Mantan Moreland) to mess things up sufficiently.

But eventually, Charlie Chan can find out how Benton was killed anyhow - electrocution via remote control - & who was the only one in the house who had the knowledge to kill in such a manner ... Vega. But as soon as Vega is proved guilty, he is shot ... but noone in the room did fire a gun, as they all were in plain sight ...or was it yet another remote control ?

Of course it was, as Melton had a wide arraiy of antique guns on display in his living room, there was no trouble of hiding a real gun amidst them & fire it via remote control ... & the only one who had access to thisremote control ... was Mrs Winters, who turns out to be not only not as stupid as she looks, but in fact, she's a Nazi spy ... Well done Charlie Chan !


After 20th Century Fox had abandoned the series 2 years earlier (click here for Charlie Chan at Fox), this was the first Charlie Chan film by Monogram, with many of the studio's regulars (most notably Mantan Moreland) in cast & crew, & quite obviously done as a propaganda effort.

The film most certainly has its flaws, as it relies less on a stringent narrative than on fancy gadgets, remote controlled devices, an array of eccentric characters as suspects with the culprit in the end pulled out of the hat rather than found by deduction ... still it's hard to completely dislike the film (or most other films of the series), thanks to an entertaining regular supporting cast (most notably Mantan Moreland), odd pseudo-Chinese oneliners ("Detective without curiosity is like glass eye on keyhole ... no good !") & a well paced, if badly written script.

The politically correct mob will love to hate this one (& the whole series) though for presenting racial (not racist) stereotypes.


review © by Mike Haberfelner


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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



Stell Dir vor, Deine Lieblingsseifenoper birgt eine tiefere Wahrheit ...
... und stell Dir vor, der Penner von der U-Bahnstation hat doch recht ...
... und dann triffst Du auch noch die Frau Deiner (feuchten) Träume ...


Und an diesem Tag geht natürlich wieder einmal die Welt unter!!!


Bauliche Angelegenheiten
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Michael Haberfelner


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