*. In my notes on Charlie Chan in London I mentioned how little time Charlie actually spent in London. In this movie he arrives in Paris, which is actually where all the action of the film takes place. Though Paris is only evoked quickly through glimpses of the Eiffel Tower, Opera, and Arc de Triomphe in the background. Most of the characters have French names, but none of them even try to affect a French accent. In fact, it feels so much like the same cast as the previous film that I even thought the drunk fellow was being played by the same actor. He wasn’t. He’s Erik Rhodes here, Paul England in London.
*. It’s a very similar film as London, as you might expect given how they were turning these things out. Charlie has come to Paris to investigate a scam involving counterfeit bonds being issued by a French bank. There are a bunch of suspects who all seem guilty of something. There are a pair of young lovers who are in trouble, but they get to marry at the end thanks to Charlie catching the counterfeit gang by faking being shot. This is how Charlie Chan in London ends as well.
*. Introducing Keye Luke as “Number One Son.” What a delightful idea for a sidekick, his natural exuberance, and greater fluency in colloquial English, playing well against Charlie’s solidity and constipated speech. Detectives are often paired up as odd couples, an eccentric being teamed with a straight man (Holmes and Watson, Poirot and Hastings, Nero Wolfe and Archie Goodwin), but here it’s something sweeter. They have real affection for each other, and work well together as a team.
*. I’m always impressed by how quickly the movies of this era moved. There’s a full slate of characters to be introduced here, a lot of plot to work through, and a really athletic “Apache” dance number all in 72 minutes. These flicks were efficient.
*. For a long time this was a movie deemed to have been lost. Then a print was found in Czechoslovakia in the 1970s. Given how many earlier films in the series are still considered lost this isn’t too surprising. In the 1930s I don’t think a lot of people thought these movies were worth keeping. And were they wrong? From our point of view, it’s nice to have them as a bit of film history. And they’re enjoyable enough in their own right. But I can also put myself in their shoes. At the time, would you have thought people would be watching Charlie Chan in Paris in the twenty-first century?