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Charlie Chan at the Olympics

USA 1937
produced by
20th Century Fox
directed by H. Bruce Humberstone
starring Warner Oland, Katherine DeMille, Pauline Moore, Allan Lane, Keye Luke, C. Henry Gordon, John Eldredge, Layne Tom jr, Jonathan Hale, Morgan Wallace, Frederick Vogeding, Andrew Tombes, Arno Frey, Howard C.Hickman, David Horsley, Oscar 'Dutch' Hendrian, Caroline Rankin
story by Paul Burger, screenplay by Robert Ellis, Helen Logan, based on characters created by Earl Derr Biggers, music by Samuel Kaylin

Charlie Chan, Charlie Chan (Warner Oland), Number One Son Lee Chan, Charlie Chan at Fox

review by
Mike Haberfelner

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The robot, an invention that makes remote controlling of (war-)planes possible is stolen from right under the noses of its inventors Hopkins (Jonathan Hale) and Cartwright (John Eldredge) during a test flight, and when none other than Charlie Chan (Warner Oland) and his young number two son (Layne Tom jr) find the wreck of the testplane, they also find the pilot and prime suspect (Oscar 'Dutch' Hendrian) dead. Chan starts to investigate immediately, and finds out that all the suspects - femme fatale Yvonne Roland (Katherine DeMille), crooked arms dealer Hughes (C.Henry Gordon) and test pilot Masters (Allan Lane) are on a boat to the Berlin Olympics, as is Chan's own son Lee (Keye Luke) as part of the swim team ... and thus, Chan and Hopkins and Cartwright rush to Berlin by Zepelin to overtake the boat - but when they have the boat searched, the robot is missing. Eventually, it's found in the luggage of an American athlete (Pauline Moore), and it soon becomes clear Yvonne Roland has smuggled it in there to get it into Germany, and while she eludes the authorities, Chan manages to somehow get hold of the thing while everyone else suspects it in a box of sweets. Ultimately, Charles Zaraka (Morgan Wallace), head of an international spy ring, makes himself known to Charlie Chan, and he kidnaps Lee to force Chan to give up the device. Charlie brings the robot, that he has also equipped with a tracking device for the poice of course, and finds out that Yvonne Roland and inventor Hopkins are actually in league with him - but Hopkins doesn't give Charlie's tracking device away, interestingly. As soon as Charlie has exchanged the robot for his son though, the place is raided by crooked arms dealer Hughes, who obviously controls a rival spy ring, before the place is raided by the German police. All the baddies are apprehended, only Hopkins is shot by Cartwright - and now Charlie reveals that it wasn't Hopkins who was in cahoots with Zaraka but Cartwright, who tried to sell the robot to him behind Hopkins' back. Of course, he's arrested as well, and Lee Chan is freed just in time to compete at the Olympics.

 

Now there's a politically odd story: A secret weapon is smuggled from the USA into Germany in 1936, when the movie takes place and when Hitler was already in power, and the German police help the Americans to retrieve it ...

Apart from these political curiosities (at least from todaya's point of view), Charlie Chan at the Olympics is pretty much an average entry into the series, combining a totally far-fetched plot and less-than-believable plottwists with a light-footed approach and a bit of comedy. The film is pretty much good entertainment as long as it lasts, but nothing that you will remember for too long.

 

review © by Mike Haberfelner

 

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Tales to Chill
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On the same day
a Burglar wants to kill you
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... 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