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Charlie Chan At The Opera (1936) DVDRip (SiRiUs sHaRe).avi
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Charlie Chan At The Opera (1936)
Gravelle, a former baritone believed dead after an opera house fire, has been languishing in a mental institution for the past seven years, an anonymous amnesiac. When he fortuitously sees a news story about his former wife's current appearance at the local opera, his memory returns. He escapes, and, disguised in costume, seeks revenge for a failed attempt on his life years earlier. When the guilty parties are found stabbed to death, Charlie Chan and son Lee try to find out if the dangerous fugitive is the one responsible.
Regarded by many as the best of the Charlie Chan series.
Warner Oland ... Charlie Chan
Boris Karloff ... Gravelle
Keye Luke ... Lee Chan
William Demarest ... Sergeant Kelly
Guy Usher ... Inspector Regan
Margaret Irving ... Mme. Lilli Rochelle
Gregory Gaye ... Enrico Borelli
Nedda Harrigan ... Mme. Anita Borelli
Frank Conroy ... Mr. Whitely
Charlotte Henry ... Kitty Rochelle
Thomas Beck ... Phil Childers
Maurice Cass ... Mr. Arnold
Perhaps the best of the Warner Oland Chan series with honorable detective exposing the real killer of operatic duo. The obvious suspect is Boris Karloff who excels in his role of Gravelle -- an escapee from the Rockland State Sanitarium one dark and stormy night. Although Karloff certainly does not actually sing (neither do the other credited members of the cast) extracts from the opera `Carnival' brings an unusual quality to this well-directed and well-acted mystery. Karloff in his Mephisto costume is most impressive.
As in most Chan films, the viewer cannot but guess the outcome since key facts are known only to the detective and not shown to the audience. If you know that about these films, you expect it and should not be irritated. Although Chan announces that he only has 30 minutes to solve the crimes, he will do so in around 18 without violence and without being he object of the murderous attention of his quarry: `Man who ride on merry-go-round often enough finally catch brass ring.' Ignore the minor errors such as apparent dubbing of two female vocalists by either the same soprano or two singers with remarkably similar sounds.
William Demarest does excellent job as Sergeant Kelly before being better known as Uncle Charlie in the TV series `My Three Sons.' No. 1 son Lee gets to act in suit of armor. All-Chinese group of soldiers in opera cast provides racially motivated comic relief. Lee Fong, an extra in that group, will later appear as No. 3 son Tommy in later Chan films. Sit back and enjoy a good solid mystery and be surprised in the end. Recommended. `Case now closed.'
My favorite of the Warner Oland Chans, Charlie Chan At the Opera, is an excellent entry in the series. It begins like a horror film, on a stormy night, as Boris Karloff overcomes a guard in a sanitarium, then escapes. We are then introduced to a motley group of characters, including a temperamental opera diva, who has been recieving threatening notes, then Charlie and son arrive, and soon the action moves to the opera house, where the film remains. Karloff turns up backstage, where he is hiding, above the dressing rooms, and we soon learn the truth: he is a famous singer who had supposedly died in a fire but escaped, and has been suffering from amnesia ever since. He has only recently begun to remember who is, and is now looking for the person who tried to kill him.
There's a lot of plot in this film, and it isn't brilliantly developed. What makes the movie so watchable is the acting, which is uniformly good (and in Karloff's case outstanding); the music, courtesy of Oscar Levant, who wrote the score; the set design, which is marvelous; and occasionally the dialogue, which is often funny. Director Bruce Humberstone juggles all these elements masterfully, making the movie hum. Karloff brings gravitas and real menace to his part, and elicits pity as much as terror. Oland is his usually Buddha-like self, delivering his fortune cookie homilies with aplomb. William Demarest is the Irish cop this time around. As was so often the case with murder mysteries, a suggestion of the supernatural helps the mood enormously. Karloff isn't quite the phantom of the opera, but people react to him as if they've seen a ghost, since they all assume that he's dead.
The movie is a very accomplished piece of work. Its theatre and backstage atmosphere give it the feeling of a show within a show, and it's a pretty good one whichever way you look at it.
Generally considered the best in this series, and I would agree that it's up there somewhere. Boris Karloff (the screen credits read: "Warner Oland vs. Boris Karloff" -- cute!) is a mental patient with amnesia who escapes the sanitarium when he remembers that he was formerly an opera singer who was once locked in his dressing room during a fire and left for dead. He then returns to the opera house to sing again and settle a score, with the famous Charlie Chan on the murder trail.
A brisk and enjoyable installment, playing up big Karloff's infamous reputation as a bogeyman, yet I have to say he sometimes comes off as humorous while mouthing the words to the dubbed opera vocals. Though his contemporary rival, Bela Lugosi, is often slammed for overacting, Boris is no slouch himself in this department here, over-expressing and hamming it up all over the place. Charlie's number one son Lee (Keye Luke) is somewhat underused this time, for some reason. In his place seems to be William Demarest, who is entertaining in this movie, running around as a frazzled American cop also struggling to solve the case and keep up with master detective Chan (Demarest does his own stunts which includes one really impressive comedic fall). With Demarest's occasional quips toward competitor Chan, it felt like this particular entry was more heavy on the "Asian stereotype charge" than usual. But in the end, it's still Charlie Chan who remains most respectable and more brilliant than everyone else.
* The Mephistopheles costume from "Faust" worn in the film was originally made for Lawrence Tibbett to wear in "Metropolitan" (1936).
* Benson Fong, who appears as an extra during the opera scenes, later returned to the series to play Tommy Chan, Charlie's #3 Son.
* Stage manager Maurice Cass vows that the opera will go on "even if Frankenstein walks in!" Audiences were well aware that this in-joke referred to star Boris Karloff, who was in the theater at the time.
* The unique billing listed Warner Oland vs. Boris Karloff above the title. Karloff had turned down the title role in Werewolf of London (1935), which would have pitted him against his current co-star. The part was ultimately played by Henry Hull.
* Filmed on standing sets left over from _Cafe Metropole (1937)_ with Tyrone Power and Loretta Young.
* Boris Karloff, who had studied voice as a young man in England, did his own singing for the film.