*. The banter from a loquacious cab driver (Eddie Collins, somehow even more irritating than he was playing the lion handler in Charlie Chan in Honolulu) lets us know what the purpose of Reno, Nevada, “the biggest little city in the world,” really is. Liberal divorce laws, passed in 1927, allowed people to divorce each other after six weeks of residency. So for six weeks you stayed at a Reno hotel and then left when your divorce was finalized. Maybe you gambled a bit while you were waiting. But in 1936 “Reno” was essentially shorthand for “divorce.”
*. Though this was common knowledge at the time, I think it was still a somewhat unseemly subject for movies to take on. But Charlie Chan in Reno doesn’t shy away from it. Indeed, it rubs our noses in the (then) shady business of divorce, as we’re immediately taken to a divorce hotel and introduced to Mrs. Bentley, a really unpleasant soon-to-be divorcee who is also soon to be murdered. This leads us into a plot where everyone is a suspect because the deceased was such a bitch. All Charlie has to do is get his chemistry set out (Number Two Son can help in this regard, as he’s studying chemistry at USC) and set his trap.
*. Not a bad entry, though Toler wasn’t warming up to the part yet. Director Norman Foster, who had been doing the Mr. Moto films, keeps things interesting on a visual level. It’s not much, but I like juxtaposing the high-angle shot looking down into the lobby when the body is discovered, and then the low-angle shot when Jimmy tackles Iris and they end up together on the floor. The cutting also seems to be a lot faster than in previous films.
*. The main story isn’t very interesting. Nor are some of the detours, like Jimmy having his car stolen. I’d like to know what happened with that. But the trip to the ghost town was fun and Slim Summerville as Sheriff “Tombstone” plays well as comic relief against Charlie. Ultimately though it’s not essential viewing for anyone but completists, and you should feel comfortable letting what happened in Reno to stay there.
How many Chan films did Toler end up doing? Any idea?
I think Wikipedia has him down for 22. I doubt I’ll get to all of them. But you have to set goals. Like reading Russian novels.
Goals are important. They’re what keep you from getting exiled to places like Belgistan….
Does anyone ever come back from Belgistan?
Not according to the anime Gasaraki….
Hahahahaa! Good try…..
Looking forward to our trip to Tuscany shortly, we’ll take some Bluerays and DVD’s but probably not Charlie Chan!
Charlie can stay at home! Tuscany sounds like fun. You’ve been before haven’t you? I seem to recall seeing some vacation pics on your site.
Yes, it’s lovely scenery and wonderful cuisine! We’ll have a grand ol’ time!
“This leads us into a plot where everyone is a suspect because the deceased was such a bitch”. Hmm… If the deceased was such a bitch, why investigate at all? That would save a lot of time – for good ol’ Charlie, and for us too.
Can’t have fine establishments like Reno divorce hotels getting a bad reputation.
Very true. But what I don’t understand is why Charlie would go to Reno in the first place. That’s like Adam Sandler trying to play straight. Both men have too much class!
I think he knows one of the suspects and he gets called in to clear his name. I’m not sure. He might also have just been visiting. Charlie does get around.
That sounds like bias and corruption by one Charlie Chan! Reopen the Reno divorce hotel case!
Charlie only knows the best people.