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The Jade Mask

USA 1945
produced by
James S. Burkett for Monogram
directed by Phil Rosen
starring Sidney Toler, Mantan Moreland, Edwin Luke, Hardie Albright, Frank Reicher, Janet Warren, Cyril Delevanti, Al Bridge, Ralph Lewis, Dorothy Granger, Edith Evanson, Joe Whitehead, Henry Hall, Jack Ingram, Danny Desmond, Lester Dorr
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 Harper (Frank Reicher), who has been developing a secret formula for the government that can turn wood into steel (!), is murdered in his own laboratory by a poisoned gas ... & since this is gouvernment business, Charlie Chan (Sidney Toler) is brought in to investigate ... & since it is Charlie Chan, his driver Birmingham Brown (Mantan Moreland) & one of his offspring - Number 4 son (Edwin Luke) - are never far behind neither.

Chan, & with him sheriff Mack (Al Bridge), soon finds himself confronted with another colourful array of suspects: Harper's assistant Meeker (Hardie Albright), who makes no secret of having loathed the man, Harper's sister Louise (Edith Evanson), whom he kept as his housekeeper & who's more than eager to inherit everything, Jean (Janet Warren), who's mainly sitting around looking pretty, circus strongwoman & ventriloquist Stella Graham (Dorothy Granger), who worked with Harper on his sideline - producing ventriloquist dummies (?!?) -, Harper's butler Roth (Cyril Delevanti), his mute gardener Michael (Lester Dorr), his unlikeable relative Archer (Jack Ingram), & then there's Jim Kimball (Ralph Lewis), a policeman who has vanished but who might have something to do with it ...

Of course, as is customary in a Charlie Chan mystery, some more murders soon follow (both the butler & the gardener), secret rooms are discovered inside Harper's house, several of them equipped with deathtraps (like one room turning into a gas chamber without warning), dead people seemingly walk around after being killed, the murder weapon in the end is hidden in a seemingly innocent object (this time a ventriloquist dummy), & half of the characters turn out to be someone else ...

So it is found olut that the killer is in fact Archer, with the help of ventriloquist/strongwoman Stella Graham, who in turn turns out to be his wife, who first met him when working in vaudeville, where he worked as a disguise artist ... & in fact Harper is not only Harper, but also Meeker, because Harper, desperately wanting the professor's formula, had to be in the professor's company one way or another. It is all found out withthe help of a jade mask (hence the title), that featured Harper's real ears ... the only feature (besides figerprints) a disguise artist cannot change ...

 

As usually with Monogram's Charlie Chan mysteries, the whodunnit aspect of the story is far fetched, does not really make all that much sense & again a culprit is pulled out of the hat rather than revealed by deduction in the end.

But again, the central actors, Toler & Moreland, give fine light-hearted performances that make up the inconsistencies of the script, & they get able support from Al Bridge as a sheriff out of his league. Edwin Luke on the other hand as bookwormish Number Four Son stays rather dull in comparison to Chan's other offspring.

 

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
Amazon!!!

 

 

 

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
WHICH IS WORSE!!!

 

A Killer Conversation

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

out now on DVD