Charlie Chan in the Chinese Cat (1944)

*. The second of the Monogram Chans and it’s no improvement. Things go wrong right with the title. Did the Chinese cat eat Charlie? I know the title should be The Chinese Cat and “Charlie Chan in” is just an introduction, but you have to admit it sounds funny.
*. The original title was Charlie Chan and the Perfect Crime, and it’s introduced as the kind of “locked room” mystery that’s often given the label of perfect crime by genre fans. Except it’s not really a locked room since we’re shown right away that there’s a secret passage into it.
*. I won’t bother with the plot. It involves small statues being used to hide diamonds in. One of the statues is of a cat. I suppose that’s the Chinese cat of the title. Mantan Moreland is back as Birmingham Brown, now driving a cab and none too happy to be reacquainted with the Chans. I’d like to say he’s a highlight here but he has nothing to do but act scared. Benson Fong is back as Tommy Chan (Number Three Son) and clearly wasn’t warming to the role yet. He needed time, and was never going to be any Keye Luke or Victor Sen Yung.
*. I think they were kind of trying with this one. The bad guys plant a bomb in the cab in an attempt to blow Charlie up, but he gets out in time. Then they try to pump poison gas into his hotel room but he gets wise to that as well. The climax is a chase and various fights that take place in a carnival funhouse. An alternative title was Murder in the Funhouse, which may sound better than Charlie Chan in the Chinese Cat but which isn’t all that accurate since I don’t think anyone actually gets killed in the funhouse.
*. So they had some good ideas. But there was clearly no budget to realize any of them. Also, by this point Sidney Toler was just going through the motions and not looking like he was enjoying himself much. Ditto for director Phil Rosen, who did the first five films in the Monogram series. Honestly, they should have retired Charlie after Castle in the Desert. These later movies aren’t worth bothering with.

13 thoughts on “Charlie Chan in the Chinese Cat (1944)

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