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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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.  Dangerous Money (1945) - Sidney Toler

While on his way to Australia on an unrelated case, Charlie Chan investigates two murders involving "hot money" that occur aboard ship.

3.  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.

4.  The Trap (1946) - Sydney Toler as Charlie Chan: 

This was Sidney Toler's final film and his final one as Charlie Chan. Stricken with cancer during his last few films, he was so physically weak during filming that he could hardly walk or say his lines coherently.    

A variety troupe arrives at a beach house in Malibu for a small vacation. Chorus member Adelaide is blackmailing various members of the group, and the troupe's star Marcia has Lois (a member of the group who Marcia knows is underage and can get her fired) steal letters from Adelaide's trunk, but Lois is strangled while going through the trunk. Charlie Chan (with #2 son Jimmy and Birmingham) are called to investigate by finding Marcia who everyone believes is the murderess, but the case is further periled when Marcia's body is found washed up on the shore. Chan finds out that many members of the troupe had reasons to get the incriminating evidence back and also murder Marcia. He decides to set a trap to catch the killer, but Jimmy inadvertently interferes to solve the case, putting himself, Charlie, and the rest of the troupe at the mercy of the killer. 

5.  Dark Alibi (1946) - Sidney Toler as Charlie Chan
Three innocent men, ex-convicts, are convicted of bank robbery and murder on the strength of fingerprints found at the scene of the crime. Police detective Charlie Chan, believes the men are innocent, investigates and finds that others have planted the fingerprints, using prison-file fingerprints as their source.

6.  The Chinese Ring (1947) - Roland Winters
A mysterious Chinese woman arrives at Charlie Chan's home and is murdered there shortly afterward. The only clues are the ring with which she introduced herself, and the message "Capt K" she scribbled before dying.
The screenplay for this movie is almost identical with that for Mr. Wong in Chinatown. Both were written by Scott Darling.

7.  The Golden Eye (1948) - Roland Winters as Charlie Chan
A gold mine in Arizona, that was formerly losing a lot of money, suddenly turns into a veritable money-making machine. However, the owner, instead of being happy about his now profitable business, insists to Charlie that something is fishy and that someone is out to murder him. Charlie and his "crew" travel to the mine, pretending to be tourists staying at a nearby dude ranch so as not to arouse suspicion, and discover that the owner may well be right--it looks like the mine is being used as a cover for criminal activities, and that someone is indeed out to murder him. 

8.  Charlie Chan - The Black Camel (1931)  - Warner Oland as Charlie Chan 

When a beautiful starlet is murdered in in Hawaii, suspicion points to a psychic adviser with a spirited nature. .But when Charlie Chan uncovers a link to an unsolved murder of a screen heartthrob, the sleuth finds that in Hollywood, fame can be murder! The earliest surviving Chan film with Warner Oland, it also features supporting roles for Bela Lugosi and Dwight Frye shortly after DRACULA opened. 

9.  Charlie Chan In Shanghai (1935) - Warner Oland & Keye Luke
When a prominent official is murdered at a banquet honoring Charlie Chan, the detective and number one son Lee, team up to expose an opium-smuggling ring. The Chinese government calls famed Detective Charlie Chan to investigate, as the Drug dealers kidnap Charlie and attempt to have him killed! "Spider does not spin web for single fly."

10.  Charlie Chan at The Olympics (1937) - Warner Oland & Keye Luke

Ace Chinese detective Charlie Chan and his son Lee who is an Olympic swimmer at the 1936 Summer Olympics face murder, intrigue and mystery

11.  Charlie Chan in Honolulu (1938) - Sidney Toler

While Charlie is distracted with the birth of his first grandchild, son Jimmy impersonates his father in order to investigate a murder aboard a freighter in the harbor.

12.   Charlie Chan At Treasure Island (1939) - Sidney Toler
Charlie challenges the supernatural on Treasure Island.

13.  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

14.  Charlie Chan in the Jade Mask (1945) - Sidney Toler

Aided by Birmingham Brown (Mantan Moreland) and Number Four Son, Charlie investigates the murder of a scientist who had invented a gas that makes wood as hard as steel.

====================13 Charlie Chan movies added on 04/18/2014================

1. Charlie Chan in Behind That Curtain (1929) Warner Baxter and E.L. Park - This third Charlie Chan feature is the first to use sound.   Chan fans may be disappointed in this globe-trotting mystery, however, as the detective (played by Korean actor E.L. Park) only appears in a few scenes. The story begins with a murder in London and the prime suspect is Colonel John Beetham (Warner Baxter), who is hiding pretty heiress Eve Mannering (Lois Moran) from her evil, philandering husband Eric Durand (Philip Strange). The action goes from England to Persia to India and finally ends up in San Francisco, where Chan prevents the gold digging Durand -- whom Eve has left for good -- from killing Beetham. Gilbert Emery, who plays a dedicated Scotland Yard detective, was originally envisioned as a big matinee idol, but was eventually relegated to thankless roles such as the one he plays here. The film is more noteworthy for its introduction of Boris Karloff to sound features, in a small role as a servant from Sudan who mutters inscrutable nonsense about the whims of the desert.

2. Charlie Chan In London (1934) Warner Oland - Honolulu detective Charlie Chan (Warner Oland) spends an eventful weekend at an English country estate in this fog-bound series entry. Young Neil Howard (Ray Milland) has been accused of murder, but family friend Geoffrey Howard (Alan Mowbray) expresses the hope that Chan will be able to locate the genuine killer. The weapons this time include a set of poison darts, while a series of cryptic notes provide vital clues to Chan and his Scotland Yard counterpart Sgt. Thacker (E.E. Clive), who insists upon calling the humble oriental sleuth "Mr. Chang" throughout the picture. Crucial to the plot's development is a fox hunt.

3. Charlie Chan In Egypt (1935) Warner Oland - While investigating the theft of antiquities from an ancient tomb excavation , Charlie discovers that the body of the expedition's leader concealed inside the mummy's wrappings.

4. Charlie Chan In Paris (1935) Warner Oland - The otherwise standard series entry Charlie Chan in Paris is distinguished by the presence of actor Keye Luke, making his first appearance as Charlie Chan's (Warner Oland) "Number One Son" Lee. Summoned to Paris by undercover agent Nardi (Dorothy Appleby), Honolulu detective Chan hopes to get the goods on an international counterfeiting ring. Alas, Nardi is promptly murdered, but not before leaving behind a cryptic clue. With the none-too-expert assistance of son Lee, Charlie puts the pieces together and exposes the identity of the head counterfeiter (which, once again, is no surprise to veteran movie-mystery buffs). 

5. Charlie Chan At the Race Track (1936) Warner Oland - When a friend of Charlie's is found kicked to death by his own race horse on board a Honolulu-bound liner, the detective discovers foul play and uncovers an international gambling ring.

6. Charlie Chan At the Opera (1936) Warner Oland - A dangerous amnesiac escapes from an asylum, hides in the opera house, and is suspected of getting revenge on those who tried to murder him 13 years ago.

7. Charlie Chan At The Circus (1936) Warner Oland - While visiting the circus with his family, Charlie is recruited by the big top's co-owner to investigate threatening letters that he's received.

8. Charlie Chan On Broadway (1937) Warner Oland - In New York to attend a police testimonial in his honor, Honolulu detective Charlie Chan runs smack dab into another murder. The victim is a blackmailing nightclub singer who had listed the names of all known criminals in Manhattan in her diary. The diary disappears, and Charlie joins a glib newspaper reporter (Donald Woods) and a photojournalist (Joan Marsh) in hunting down the killer. Several false leads and red herrings later, Charlie puts the pieces together and fingers the killer--who true to form is the least likely suspect (especially for a "typical" New York murder case). 

9. Charlie Chan In Monte Carlo (1937) Warner Oland - Chan (Warner Oland) and son Lee (Keye Luke) are on holiday in Monte Carlo when a casino messenger is killed while en route to Paris. The messenger was carrying a million dollars' worth of bonds, which passes through several hands in the course of the film. One of the prime suspects is a Chicago gangster, working incognito as the casino bartender -- at least until he's bumped off as well. The motivating factor behind all the mayhem is woman-with-a-past Virginia Field, who, though she turns out not to be the killer, is as morally guilty as the genuine culprit. Charlie Chan at Monte Carlo represented Warner Oland's final appearance as the aphorism-spouting oriental detective; he died suddenly in August of 1938, whereupon 20th Century-Fox replaced him with Sidney Toler

10. Charlie Chan in Murder Over New York (1940) Sidney Toler - When Charlie's old friend from Scotland Yard is murdered when they attend a police convention in New York, Chan picks up the case he was working on.

11. Charlie Chan In Panama (1940) Sidney Toler - 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."

12. Charlie Chan in Castle In The Desert (1942)  Sidney Toler - Charlie Chan investigates apparent poisonings at a mystery mansion in the Mojave Desert.

13.Charlie Chan in Black Magic (1944) Sidney Toler - Charlie searches for a murderer amidst numerous ghosts conjured up by a strange variety of spiritualists and occultists.

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