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Charlie Chan at the Wax Museum

USA 1940
produced by
20th Century Fox
directed by Lynn Shores
starring Sidney Toler, Victor Sen Yung, C. Henry Gordon, Marc Lawrence, Joan Valerie, Marguerite Chapman, Ted Osborne, Michael Visaroff, Hilda Vaughn, Charles Wagenheim, Archie Twitchell, Eddie Marr, Joe King, Harold Goodwin, Charles Trowbridge
screenplay by John Larkin, based on characters created by Earl Derr Biggers, music by Cyril J. Mockridge

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

review by
Mike Haberfelner

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After he is convicted to the electric chair, gangster McBirney (Marc Lawrence) threatens to kill Charlie Chan (Sidney Toler), the cop who booked him - and then he makes a daring escape from the courtroom.

Mc Birney hides out in a waxmuseum dedicated to the biggest crimes in history, a museum run by former plastic surgeon Doctor Cream (C.Henry Gordon), who has a reputation for hiding out criminals and giving them new faces - exactly what McBirney needs. The museum though also hosts a weekly radio program on famous crimes, and this is where McBirney gets his idea on how to have his revenge on Charlie Chan: to invite him to the show then electrocute him during the broadcast. This all sounds like a good plan, but it doesn't work out, because first Charlie isn't sitting where he was supposed to sit, then the wires for the electrocution are actually cut, and then another man, a German criminologist (Michael Visaroff) is killed by a blowdart. Thing is, that criminologist promised new evidence in a case against one of McBirney's former associates who's now his enemy, and he was killed in exactly the way that man used to do his killings, so it's only natural that that man is present, and he's probably after McBirney as well - but he is known to have a new face which nobody knows.

Now Chan is confronted with a wax museum full of suspects, including the widow (Hilda Vaughn) who was wrongly executed for the wanted killer's murders, her shady lawyer (Artie Twitchell), or even Doctor Cream himself, who knows more than he's willing to tell, and the fact that McBirney is still waiting in the wings to kill Charlie doesn't make things easier. But then McBirney himself is killed, and Charlie ultimately catches the killer, the announcer of the radio program (Ted Osborne) by shooting him with a toothpick pretending it's a poisoned dart, whereupon the killer confesses to everything in hope of getting the antidote ...

Victor Sen Yung can be seen as Charlie's Number Two Son, but he doesn't get too much to do.


A bit too convoluted to really work as a murder mystery, this is nevertheless a rather amusing film thanks to its many fun twists and turns. Good use is made of the wax museum setting as well, though it doesn't work half as well at setting up the film's atmosphere as could have been expected.


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