Charlie Chan in Monte Carlo (1937)

*. Warner Oland’s final film playing Charlie Chan, and indeed his last film (he only made it a week into the filming of Charlie Chan at Ringside before succumbing to ill health). At least they sent him out with a bang.
*. Alas, that bang is courtesy of a taxi’s backfire, which is one of the laboured running gags that burden this weak instalment. Though just before we get to that final backfire we do get to see the villain being run down by a car, which is actually quite impressively rendered, for the time.
*. This would also be the last entry for Keye Luke as Number One Son Lee Chan. I can’t say it’s an especially strong outing for him either. His place is partially usurped by Harold Huber as the Monte Carlo Chief of Police Jules Joubert. Huber was a versatile character actor who had also played the tough-talking New York detective Inspector Nelson in Charlie Chan on Broadway, and he’d go on to play in the Sidney Toler Chan pictures City in Darkness and Charlie Chan in Rio. These guys were plug-and-play. He’d also go on to provide the voice for Fu Manchu and Hercule Poirot in some radio adaptations.
*. Why is this episode so weak? I’d blame the script on two counts. In the first place, it’s tired. Charlie’s patter feels played out. “Questions are keys to door of truth,” has to be one of the lamest Chanagrams ever. Then there is the complexity of the plot. Now many of the Charlie Chan movies have plots that are hard to follow, but this is the first one that I found literally impossible to keep up with. Even reading a detailed synopsis I found online left me confused. It has something to do with stolen bonds and blackmail, but I wasn’t clear who was doing what to whom. And as I’ve said before on more than one occasion, when a movie is confusing it’s usually boring because when we stop being able to follow what’s going on we stop caring.
*. One of the female characters is said to have had a previous job as a “mannequin.” I was surprised by that. I don’t know what that meant in the 1930s. She was a live model who stood in store windows? Or did she just dress mannequins?
*. Not worth bothering with, even if you’re a fan. But if you are a fan you’ll want to see them all anyway. And if you stick it through to the end you do see someone getting hit by a car.

19 thoughts on “Charlie Chan in Monte Carlo (1937)

    1. Alex Good

      I’m not sure how many there were in total. I’ll be doing the Sidney Toler movies he did at Fox, which I think is another ten titles. They were making these on an assembly line.

      Reply
  1. Bookstooge

    What is your motivation for watching all of these? I’ve got my own “book projects” but am wondering what motivates you to watch this franchise to the end?

    Reply
    1. Alex Good

      Well, they are sort of entertaining most of the time. This isn’t one of the better ones. And they’re all easy to watch, and quick. Most only run about an hour.

      Reply
      1. Alex Good Post author

        Well, let’s not get carried away. Cheetos are the gold orange standard of snack food. Maybe the movie equivalent of regular Pringles.

      2. Bookstooge

        Ohhhh, “regular” pringles. I refuse to eat those. Not because they’re bad but because the cheddar ones are so much better.

        Guess I won’t be marathoning Chan anytime soon, or ever…..

      3. Alex Good Post author

        Well that’s about right for an analogy then. I mean, the Chan movies aren’t great, but if you need something to watch they’ll do the trick. Regular Pringles will suffice for me. Though I agree the cheddar ones are better. Or japaleno, or bbq, or ranch, or sour cream.

  2. film-authority.com

    ….!!!!????”””” here’s some punctuation marks, why don’t you add them to the places you’ve missed them out, Bunty? For a start, you could put a comma after ‘end’ in the last paragraph….

    Reply
    1. Alex Good

      Thanks! I’ll keep those on hand in case I run out. Don’t think a comma is required in that last paragraph, but it’s nice that you are at least seeing the paragraphs now. You were having trouble before. Did you get your eyes tested?

      Reply
      1. Alex Good Post author

        Sounds like a deal! Though given the way they made these things, there isn’t a huge difference between the best and the worst Chan. They’re pretty much of a piece.

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