*. Mystery movies, like mystery novels, operate in a weird sort of way. They are essentially just puzzles whose sole purpose is to take you on a journey to their solution. So you wouldn’t expect them to be enjoyable on repeated readings or viewings.
*. They are, however, because so many of them are so very formulaic that they’re almost instantly forgettable. Yes, it’s likely you remember the solution to such clever Agatha Christie classics as Murder on the Orient Express, And Then There Were None, and The Murder of Roger Ackroyd. But aside from those? I can re-read a Christie novel every couple of years (I don’t, but I could) and still have forgotten it so completely that I could enjoy it just as much as I did the first time.
*. I was thinking of this quality mysteries have while re-viewing the Charlie Chan film canon. I’d seen all these movies five or six years previously but coming back to them now I could barely remember anything about them. I might as well have been seeing them for the first time. There is the formula I mentioned — with elements like someone trying to drop a giant stone on Charlie, a gloved hand appearing out of a doorway to fire a shot, and the young couple being united at the end after the villain is taken away by the authorities — but as for whodunit or what he did I had no recollection at all.
*. I’d also forgotten the appearance of Stepin Fetchit, who plays the idle assistant “Snowshoes” in this movie. The distance of nearly a hundred years makes the phenomenon of Fetchit all the more difficult to understand. And he was a phenomenon, reportedly the first black actor to become a millionaire. But what was so funny or appealing about him? Was it just playing to a stereotype of Blacks as lazy and scared of ghosts?
*. What I did remember from Charlie Chan in Egypt was the secret chamber that could only be accessed by a quick underwater swim. This was neat. And of course the presence of Rita Hayworth, from back before she was Rita Hayworth (indeed, she’s here credited as Rita Cansino).
*. Was there anything in Hayworth’s performance here, as the sexy servant girl Nayda, that would make you think she was going to be a star? If there was it would be in her eyes. They glow even brighter than those of jeweled Sekhmet.
*. The actual murders here are so involved and confusing as to aid in their forgetting. The business with the violin was “ingenious” indeed, though I might have called it ridiculous. Hats off though to making the native Egyptians, despite their suspicious behaviour, into people just wanting to hold on to their cultural patrimony from looting European museums. That doesn’t quite make up for Stepin Fetchit, but it was progressive for the time.
*. There’s no Number One Son, which is a shame. I mentioned in my notes on Charlie Chan in Paris how he made such a nice foil. Great detectives tend to be arrogant and larger than life. Then there are some, like Charlie, who can be annoyingly humble (they even make a running gag here out of his bowing to the Egyptian official). The only other famous fictional detective I can think of with the same degree of humility is Chesterton’s Father Brown, and I can’t stand Father Brown (mainly because I find his humility fake). What this means is that the characters and story surrounding Charlie have to be more exotic to compensate. I think they are here, and while this is an almost totally forgettable entry in a B franchise, it’s still a pleasant enough time waster.
I forget most movies I’ve seen much to Mr.Rabbit’s annoyance haha, I sometimes struggle to remember on Monday what I saw on the previous Saturday. I don’t mind though, it means everything I re watch is like new to me!
I forget everything too! But I find it especially weird when dealing with mysteries and I can’t even recall who the killer was. Oh well. Like you say, it makes everything new.
‘Was there anything in Hayworth’s performance here, as the sexy servant girl Nayda, that would make you think she was going to be a star? If there was it would be in her eyes. They glow even brighter than those of jeweled Sekhmet…’
Time for your medication, now, grandpa! Who’se guest-writing your blog, Tennessee Williams?
The eyes of jeweled Sekhmet are actually a plot device here, laddy. You’re the one dancing to the oldies this morning.
Haha from the reviewer of Charlie Chan in Egypt. My film is our Friday, numpty!
You can’t review the number one box office film this week but can review some doc that comes out the morra? Sad. And as if Charlie Chan ever gets old!
What’s out this week?
If you have to ask . . .
Genuinely interested. What insight have you?
Begins with Mortal. Ends with Kombat. Brutality.
Came out last week in the US, no release date in the UK. Any sensible questions?
*sigh* Try to follow the thread. The movie you were nattering on about today isn’t out yet in the UK. Whereas anyone can watch Hugo the dog ringing his bell for treats right now.
I don’t think I mentioned Hugo the dog. How does this throw light on this literary matter?
Hugo spreads light and joy (and hair) everywhere he goes.
Is this your dog that you are pointlessly promoting?
Newfs need no promotion. Hugo is not my dog, but I did live with Newfs. But seeing as you are exclusively a cat person there’s no explaining.
I have horses and chickens too, what have you got?
More fantasies. There are no horses or chickens in Scotland.
Poppycock. You know nothing. So don’t start fantasising about our literary friendship because it ain’t happening, Bunty! You ain’t got the chops!
He must have an import horse as it writes his comments, that’s why the spelling is a bit iffy.
It’s all part of his strange fantasy of being a farmer. I mean, the only horses in his neck of the woods are those shaggy little ponies . . .
Just a second. Do you think . . . is it possible that our Scottish friend is . . . a brony? Might explain a lot.
Oh I do hope so. That would be fun!
I for one would like to congratulate him for smashing all sorts of norms and conventions. The film review community could probably use some good bronies.
Agreed on both counts!
Ah, now this is why I come back to this blog day after day – for the Charlie Chan reviews. He went to Egypt! Ha! Typical Charlie.
“Accidents can happen…
If planned that way!”
Charlie was a globe-hopper. He has many exotic destinations to come!
Wonderful! I can’t wait!