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Charlie Chan Collection, Vol. 5 [8 Discs] [DVD]

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$39.99
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Overview

Special Features

  • The Era of Chan featurette
  • Original Theatrical Trailers
  • Still Galleries
  • Closed Captioned

Synopsis

Castle in the Desert
This final entry in 20th Century-Fox's "Charlie Chan" series is set in a huge mansion, smack-dab in the middle of the Mojave desert. When snoopy weekend guest Professor Gleason (Lucien Littlefield) is murdered, every member of the household falls under suspicion-none more so than Mr. Manderly (Douglass Dumbrille), the surly and highly secretive master of the household. Charlie Chan (Sidney Toler) and number two son Jimmy (Sen Yung) stumble into this nest of vipers and quickly get to work trying to unravel the mystery, which involves a collection of priceless artifacts and an old-fashioned torture chamber. An excellent series entry, Castle in the Desert would have been a worthy screen finale for the inscrutable Mr. Chan; alas, the character would be revived two years later in a much inferior series at Monogram. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

Charlie Chan in Panama
Charlie Chan in Panama was the first entry in the "Chan" series to capitalize on WW2. Sidney Toler stars as the wily oriental sleuth, who on this occasion must weed out an elusive enemy saboteur named Ryner, who plans to destroy the Panama Canal. Any one of the supporting characters might be the never-seen Ryner: Could it be illegal alien Kathi Lenesch (Jean Rogers), overly effusive Englishman Cliveden Compton (Lionel Atwill), straight-arrow Richard Cabot (Kane Richmond), slimy nightclub owner Montero (Jack LaRue), moonfaced middle-easterner Achmed (Frank Puglia), timid schoolmarm Jennie Finch (Mary Nash), or none of the above? Also on hand is Victor Sen Yung as Charlie's Number 2 son Jimmy, who is somewhat stupider than usual (if such a thing is possible). In an early scene, Charlie Chan neatly sums up his relationship with the bumbling Jimmy: "Man without relatives is man without problems." ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

Dead Men Tell
Wily Honolulu detective Charlie Chan (Sidney Toler) is summoned when Miss Nodbury (Ethel Gryffies), an elderly eccentric, is murdered just before taking part in a seafaring treasure hunt. Chan deduces that the old lady died of fright, brought on by the apparent visitation of the ghost of her ancestor, a notorious pirate. Suspecting that the ghost was actually one of Miss Nodbury's enemies in disguise, Chan tags along on the treasure hunt to pinpoint the real killer. Meanwhile, Number Two Son Jimmy Chan (Victor Sen Yung) seeks out suspects on the waterfront, only to be constantly dunked in the briny by a wild-eyed but essentially harmless lunatic (Milton Parsons). A lesser Charlie Chan entry, Dead Men Tell is redeemed by its atmospheric harbor scenes, a specialty of director Harry Lachman. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

Murder over New York
Murder Over New York finds Honolulu-based detective Charlie Chan (Sidney Toler) arriving in the Big Apple for a policeman's convention. No sooner has he arrived than Charlie is up to his neck in a murder mystery. This time the killing is tied in with a gang of enemy saboteurs, bent upon scuttling the test flight of a revolutionary new bomber plane. With the "help" of willing but inept Number Two Son (Victor Sen Yung), Charlie wades through a sea of suspects to finger the genuine killer. Among the film's highlights is a very funny "line-up" bit by an uncredited Shemp Howard; its low point is a lamentable stretch of racist humor involving black actor Clarence Muse. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

Charlie Chan's Murder Cruise
Though the 1931 Fox release Charlie Chan Carries On apparently no longer exists, modern viewers can get a general idea of the film's quality by taking a look at its 1940 remake, Charlie Chan's Murder Cruise. On the verge of revealing the identity of an international murderer, a Scotland Yard man is himself killed in the Honolulu offices of detective Charlie Chan (Sidney Toler). The only existing clues point to the fact that the murderer is one of several passengers on a ship bound for San Francisco. In time-honored movie-mystery tradition, the ship's manifest is chock full of such suspicious types as Dr. Sudermann (Lionel Atwill), Professor Gordon (Leo G. Carroll) and religious fanatic Mr. Walters (Charles Middleton). Another murder takes place before Chan is able to expose the perpetrator with the help of the supposedly blinded widow (Kay Linaker) of the original victim. Comedy relief is provided by Victor Sen Yung as Chan's eternally bumbling Number Two son and by Cora Witherspoon as man-chasing spinster Susie Watson (a character originally portrayed as a youthful gold-digger by Marjoire White in Charlie Chan Carries On). ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

Charlie Chan at the Wax Museum
Escaped gangster Steve McBirney (Marc Lawrence), vowing to get even with Oriental sleuth Charlie Chan (Sidney Toler), lies in wait at a spooky wax museum run by demented plastic surgeon Dr. Cream (Henry Gordon). Chan is lured to the museum's opening day ceremonies on a ruse, along with a variety of strange characters ranging from a girl reporter (Joan Valerie) to a radio announcer (played by real-life announcer Ted Osborn). The subsequent murder spree is complicated by the fact that no one-not even the wily Chan--can tell the wax effigies from real thing. The explanation of the film's events-and the revelation of the killer-are quite a surprise. With Charlie Chan at the Wax Museum, 20th Century-Fox's "Chan" series reached its peak: from here, it could only go downhill. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

Charlie Chan in Rio
Charlie Chan in Rio is a remake of 1931's Black Camel, one of the few pre-1934 "Charlie Chan" entries still in existence. While the original film was set in Hawaii, the remake takes place in Brazil, but the basic intrigues remain the same. While vacation in Rio de Janeiro with his son Jimmy (Victor Sen Yung), Honolulu detective Charlie Chan (Sidney Toler) is asked by the local constabulary to help solve a double homicide. The motivation behind the two murders is apparently tied in with sinister psychologist Alfredo Marana (Victor Jory), who utilizes hypnotism as an adjunct to a clever blackmailing scheme. Cobina Wright Jr. shows up early on as one of the murder victims, alongside Jory, Mary Beth Hughes and the ubiquitous Harold Huber, cast as a foreign police official. Hamilton Macfadden, who directed the original Black Camel, shows up as one of the suspects in Charlie Chan in Rio. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

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