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Charlie Chan At The Olympics (1937) DVDRip (SiRiUs sHaRe).avi
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Charlie Chan At The Olympics (1937)
When an experimental plane is hijacked and its pilot murdered, the new guidance system that will allow it to fly unmanned is stolen. Charlie traces the strategically important invention to the current summer Olympic games in Berlin, where myriad spies, enemy agents, and hard-core criminals are ruthlessly pursuing it in order to sell it to another government. Charlie's son Lee, a member of the U.S. Olympic Swim Team, is on hand to help his father recover the device and solve the mystery.
Warner Oland ... Charlie Chan
Katherine DeMille ... Yvonne Roland
Pauline Moore ... Betty Adams
Allan Lane ... Richard Masters
Keye Luke ... Lee Chan
C. Henry Gordon ... Arthur Hughes
John Eldredge ... Mr. Cartwright
Layne Tom Jr. ... Charlie Chan Jr
Jonathan Hale ... Mr. Hopkins
Morgan Wallace ... Honorable Charles Zaraka
Frederick Vogeding ... Inspector Strasser (as Fredrik Vogeding)
Andrew Tombes ... Chief of Homicide E. R. Scott
Arno Frey ... Carlos, Zaraka's Henchman
"Charlie Chan at the Olympics" opens with the Oriental Detective in his Honolulu office receiving a physical, and with a clean bill of health he's ready to begin another case! Generally, I find the 20th Century Fox Chan films to be remarkably consistent with continuity, however there is a serious lapse introduced early in the proceedings. Layne Tom Jr. portrays #2 Son Charlie Jr. in the film, and appearing to be about twelve years old at most, he is much too young relative to #1 Son Lee (Keye Luke). "Charlie Chan at the Circus" offered a glimpse of the entire Chan clan on a family outing with older siblings, and future Chan films offered Victor Sen Yung as #2 Son Jimmy (also seen as #2 Son Tommy in the later Monogram pictures).
If you're intrigued by this sort of trivia as I am, then you'll also be interested in the appearance of actor Allan Lane in the film, portraying Olympic athlete Richard Masters. Lane went on to achieve notoriety as one of the better "B" Western action heroes, appearing in a number of Red Ryder films as the lead character in the mid 1940's and dozens more as "Rocky" Lane. In the 1960's, his distinctive voice became the sound of "Mr. Ed" the talking horse!
With the 1936 Olympics in Berlin, Germany as the backdrop, Chan gets involved in a case that begins in Honolulu with the test flight of an airplane outfitted with a newly developed radio control device. With the pilot murdered and the plane hijacked, the hunt is on for the person or foreign agent involved in the theft of the device. A chief suspect is Arthur Hughes (C. Henry Gordon), known to have sold arms to revolutionaries in the world's trouble spots. Another notably apparent suspect is the mysterious woman in the white fox coat, Yvonne Roland, accompanying Richard Masters aboard the steamship Manhattan on the way to Berlin and the Olympics. It's a HUGE coincidence when Miss Roland eavesdrops on a short wave radio conversation between the San Francisco PD and Honolulu regarding suspect Hughes, who missed the boat in New York, but is boarding some time later.
It's no less a coincidence also for #1 Son Lee to bump into "Pop" Charlie aboard the steamship Manhattan, making his way feet first through a porthole no less. Lee is helping out with the case, even as he's about to compete in a hundred meter swim race for the U.S. Olympic team. Of all of Lee's jack of all trades exploits we've seen him involved in, this one is the most unbelievable, especially when he winds up with Olympic Gold at film's end!
When Charlie is invited to attend the Olympics opening ceremonies, it is at the behest of Charles Zaraca, head of a foreign spy ring, with the fashionable Miss Roland in his employ. Having recovered the remote control device earlier, Charlie has set himself up for danger - "Our game is with the Oriental now." Indeed, Lee is kidnapped and held hostage, with Chan's patriotism and allegiance about to be tested.
Ultimately, when the mystery of the stolen remote control device is revealed, it comes as somewhat of a letdown. It turns out that developer Cartright (John Eldredge) stole his own invention as a way to keep future profits all to himself, cutting out his partner Hopkins (Jonathan Hale). All of the international intrigue and mystery provided by the colorful cast of characters turns out to be the usual bucket of red herrings for which the Chan films are noted.
"Charlie Chan at the Olympics" is not as tightly developed as some of Warner Oland's prior Chan films, such as "London", "At the Racetrack", or "At the Opera", nevertheless it still plays entertainingly well. If you're a serious Chan fan, you'll have to overlook some of the inconsistencies and coincidences mentioned earlier though, and concentrate instead on the Olympic backdrop and the relationship between "Pop" and son Lee.
Some unnamed source at IMDb alleges that CHARLIE CHAN AT THE OLYMPICS, a film capitalizing on the then recent 1936 Berlin Olympics (taking place in Germany under Chancellor Hitler) and released on May 21, 1937, in the U.S and in the early fall of that year in Europe, was "pulled from circulation shortly after its release because it takes place in Nazi Germany." Could someone please define "shortly after its release"? The film, while sympathetically portraying the civilian police force in Berlin (interestingly played for irony and possibly surprise or subtext by frequent film villain Frederik Vogeding), pointedly incorporated actual newsreel footage of Jessie Owens' Olympic triumph which was so upsetting to the Herr Hitler. The film plot had considerable hurdles to surmount in avoiding the identification of the foreign power trying to steal the "McGuffin" military device. Most U.S. or British films of the period would have been more blatant in assuming the national guilty party, but Germany was still a major market for U.S. motion pictures (even if the Chan character himself must have been an anathema to Nazi Party leadership).
Even with the unsettling Anschlus in Austria and the Munich Crisis over the dismembering of Czechoslovakia; with the invasion of Poland and the formal start of European hostilities in World War II still a little more than a year away (U.S. entry into the conflict more than four years away!), America and much of the rest of the world was doing its best to ignore distressing realities within the Reich. While CHARLIE CHAN AT THE OLYMPICS had to do a fine dance to play to that desire to turn a blind eye, it largely succeeded. It is difficult to believe that 20th Century Fox would withdraw an entry in the wildly popular Chan series in anything which could be realistically considered "soon" (anything less than six months). A specific DATE of the withdrawal would be appreciated.
While the film over all may be one of the lesser Chan efforts, it has moments (the initial set-up in the U.S., the travelogue race to Berlin, the scenes in the Olympic Stadium and the final confrontation with the killers) which are as good as any in the canon. To be dismissed as "pulled from circulation shortly after its release" if it is demonstrably not true would be unfortunate.
Every four years comes the Olympic Games which is when the leading capitalist corporate brands and countries strive for world supremacy, and the hyped-up media urges the public to admire athletic junkies beating the clean and honest. I wonder if the trillions of dollars spent on it could be better used to try to feed the hungry and cure the diseased? Give me a three-legged race at a junior school any day!
Charlie has no such hang-ups about going to Nazi Germany. He wants to go on fish-hunt but ends up on man-hunt instead as secret government McGuffin that enables war planes fly by remote control is stolen. The trail and chase to recover it leads from Honolulu to San Francisco to New York and Berlin – with swift global communications it was such a small world after all! At first he's helped by little Cheeky Chan, but when he gets to Berlin no.2 son Lee takes over who is participating at the Games as a swimmer. The likely suspect is the dame in the white fox fur but it turns out more complicated involving gangs of spies and a maze of sinister characters, and all in Berlin too. It's intrigue at warp speed, hardly a second is wasted. Favourite bits: the footage of the Hindenburg (and its unperturbed passengers) beating the ocean liner's passengers to Germany; Charlie's touching faltering concern for the kidnapped Lee; the denouement; Lee continually trying to spout killer aphorisms like his Pop - or something like that!
Overall imho a good entry in the series with a slightly different format to those preceding, and I'd rather watch this than the real Olympics - no contest.