Charlie Chan


Charlie Chan is a fictional Chinese-American detective created by Earl Derr Biggers, who acknowledged that he was inspired by the career of Honolulu policeman Chang Apana. Chan is the hero of a number of books and dozens of movies. A detective in the Honolulu Police Department, he and his wife have a very large family of children (the oldest of whom is colloquially known as "Number One Son") and live in a house on Punchbowl Hill.

Appearing in more than three dozen films from the silent era to the late 1940s, Chan outlasted many imitators and competitors rising to the ranks of the greatest movie investigators to stand alongside Sherlock Holmes, Nick Charles, and Sam Spade. However, Chan is also the subject of a great deal of controversy, with some calling him an offensive caricature or stereotype.


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From Archive.Org and You Tube:

1.  Charlie Chan's Secret (1936) Warner Oland as Charlie Chan

An ocean liner sinks off Honolulu and Allen Colby, heir to millions, is presumed dead...but local sleuth Charlie Chan is not so sure, and flies to San Francisco to investigate further. Somehow, the missing Colby is there ahead of him...but is knifed in the back before seeing anyone. Further events revolve around spiritualist Mrs. Lowell, her family of suspicious characters, and the spooky, untenanted Colby mansion, where the body turns up during a séance.

2.  The Scarlet Clue (1945) - Sidney Toler

Government agent Charlie Chan is investigating a spy ring intent on stealing radar plans which leads him to a radio station in a building also containing a radar research facility.

3.  Charlie Chan At The Wax Museum (1940) - Sidney Toler

An escaped convicted murderer hides out at a New York wax museum where he hopes to get plastic surgery, which will help him revenge himself on Charlie Chan

4. Charlie Chan - City of Darkness (1939) Sidney Toler - Chan investigates a murder in Paris connected to the growing signs of impending war

5. Charlie Chan and the Shanghai Cobra (1945) - Sidney Toler - When three bank employees are killed with cobra venom, Detective Chan recalls an oddly similar case ten years earlier in Shanghai. Benson Fong and Mantan Moreland, return as Tommy "Number Three Son" Chan, and Birmingham Brown.

6.  Charlie Chan's Murder Cruise - Sidney Toler – (1940) - On a cruise ship from Honolulu to San Francisco, the famous Chinese detective encounters four more murders while trying to figure out the murder of a Scotland Yard friend. Fast-paced who-done-it set primarily aboard a ship bound between Honolulu and San Francisco. A 'round the world cruise by ten travelers has been beset by a series of deaths by strangulation. It is clear from the beginning of the film that the guilty party is a man dressed in a dark hat and raincoat with dark classes and a full beard. But none of the passengers look like that. Scotland Yard Inspector Duff is sent to investigate only to die as the film opens. Interesting subterfuge will keep the viewer off balance and probably unable to keep up with Chan until all is revealed at the end. `Man can more safely search for gold if world think he dig ditch.'   [ADDED]

7. Charlie Chan and the Chinese Cat (1944) - Sidney Toler - Thomas P. Manning, businessman and chess expert mysteriously shot in a locked room, dies clutching some chess pieces. Police are baffled, and finally abandon the case. Six months later, victim's daughter Leah Manning, stung by a scurrilous book about the case, enlists the aid of Charlie Chan and Number 3 Son. Additional murders follow, leading to a climactic confrontation in a seemingly deserted "Fun House."  [ADDED]

8.  Charlie Chan and the Olympics (1937) – Warner Oland - When an experimental plane is hijacked and its pilot murdered, the new guidance system that will allow it to fly unmanned is stolen. Charlie traces the strategically important invention to the current summer Olympic games in Berlin, where myriad spies, enemy agents, and hard-core criminals are ruthlessly pursuing it in order to sell it to another government. Charlie's son Lee, a member of the U.S. Olympic Swim Team, is on hand to help his father recover the device and solve the mystery. [ADDED]

9.  Charlie Chan in The Trap (1946) – Sidney Toler - Calamity ensues at the beach villa in Malibu, California, where Cole King’s theatre ensemble resides, when one of the showgirls, Adelaide, is challenging Marcia, who is Cole’s girl and the star of the show.  Marcia retaliates by threatening to reveal Adelaide’s secret marriage to a doctor by the name of George Brandt. She also steals a letter to Adelaide from said Brandt, using one of the other showgirls, Lois, who is hiding the fact that she is under eighteen.  When Marcia vanishes and Lois’ dead body is found by one of the other members of the group, San Toy. The cause of death is strangulation, and the technique used is used by the French and the Chinese. Immediately, the French Adelaide and Chinese San Toy are placed under suspicion as possible perpetrators.  Also living under the same roof are the group’s press agent Rick Daniels and costume chief Mrs. Thorn. Daniels suggests they make Lois’ death look like drowning, but San Toy contacts her friend Jimmy, who is the son of reputed sleuth Charlie Chan, asking for help to solve the murder mystery. Chan starts his investigation, and soon both his assistant, Birmingham, and San Toy are attacked, but without a mortal ending. Another member of the theatre group, Clementine, discovers Marcia dead and strangled on the beach, with a silk cord still around her neck.   [ADDED]

10.  Charlie Chan in Dangerous Money 1946 - A treasury agent traveling aboard a ocean liner confides to fellow passenger Charlie Chan that he's on the trail of a counterfeiting ring operating from the South Pacific and has survived two recent attempts on his life. Chan helps him avoid a third but is helpless to prevent a knife thrown in his back in the ship's club room. Although the ship will be docking shortly in Samoa, Charlie is confident that he will unmask the killer before then. Among the suspects are an elitist reverend and his wife, a beautiful young woman traveling with forged papers, a shady loudmouth of a salesman, a larcenous ship's steward, and a professional knife-thrower.

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