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Shadows over Chinatown

USA 1946
produced by
James S. Burkett for Monogram
directed by Terry O. Morse
starring Sidney Toler, Mantan Moreland, Victor Sen Yung, Tanis Chandler, John Gallaudet, Paul Bryar, Bruce Kellogg, Al Bridge, Mary Gordon, Dorothy Granger, Jack Norton, George Eldredge, Tyra Vaughn, Lyle Latell, Mira McKinney, Harry Depp, Gladys Blake, James B. Leong, Kit Carson, John Hamilton, Charles Jordan
screenplay by Raymond L. Schrock, 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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Charlie Chan (Sidney Toler), his son Jimmy (Victor Sen Yung) and his driver Birmingham Brown (Mantan Moreland) drive to San Francisco by bus to help the police in a gruesome murder case, in which only the torso of the (female) was found. On the bus, Charlie meets Mrs Conover (Mary Gordon), who fears the torso is that of her granddaughter, Mary (Tanis Chandler), who has gone missing several weeks ago, and Charlie promises to help finding her, as he doesn't believe her disappearance and the torso are related. Also, Charlie is shot at at a stopover but survives.

At the missing persons bureau, Charlie spots a person that acts mighty suspicious, deserted arny Corporal Joe Thompson (Bruce Kellogg), only to find out he's Mary's boyfriend trying to find her. Plus he meets private eye Jeff Hay (John Gallaudet), who's a bit too keen on helping with the case.

Soon, Charlie can verify that the torso is indeed not Mary's, but figures a former escort girl must have been the victim, one who was involved in an inheritance scam scheme ... and who has worked for the same company as Mary did. Charlie also finds out to his surprise that a waitress at the hotel he's staying is actually Mary, but then Mary runs in with an old gangster acquaintance of hers, Mike Rogan (Paul Ryan), and she makes a hasty getaway ... and when Charlie and company try to track her down, they eventually stumble over Rogan's dead body. Mary is eventually picked up by the police though, and when she's reunited with her lover and her grandmother she reveals the whole inheritance scam the escort agency she worked for has run, and she confirms that the girl Charlie suspected to be is actually the torso victim. Charlie decides to use her as bait to lure out the brains of the organisation out into the open ... but with the trap all set, private investigator Hay messes everything up by just trying to be helpful - but when Charlie and company try to reset their trap, Mary disappears, and Charlie receives news that Hay is actually the head of the agency and thus the brain of the whole operation. But it doesn't take Charlie long to track him down and overcome him before he can do any harm to Mary.

 

Shadows Over Chinatown is by no means a remarkable film ... but it's a fun entry into the Charlie Chan series that might (like most films of the series, actually) not be based on the most ingenious of scripts - it's too over-convoluted and doesn't always make sense -, but it profits from a very light-footed approach, a good ensemble cast, some great comedy from Mantan Moreland, and a directorial approach that actually does show inspiration at times.

So yeah, maybe no piece of art, not even a genre classic, but an entertaining exercise in formula filmmaking.

 

review © by Mike Haberfelner

 

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Thanks for watching !!!

 

 

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

 

 

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!!!

 

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