Charlie's visit to Paris, ostensibly a vacation, is really a mission to investigate a bond-forgery racket. But his agent, apache dancer Nardi is killed before she can tell him much. The case, complicated by a false murder accusation for banker's daughter Yvette, climaxes with a strange journey through the Paris sewers.
Warner Oland ... Charlie Chan
Mary Brian ... Yvette Lamartine
Thomas Beck ... Victor Descartes
John Miljan ... Albert Dufresne
Erik Rhodes ... Max Corday
Murray Kinnell ... Henri Latouche
Minor Watson ... Insp. Renard
John Qualen ... Concierge, Dufresne's Hotel (bit)
Keye Luke ... Lee Chan
Henry Kolker ... Paul Lamartine
Dorothy Appleby ... Nardi
Ruth Peterson ... Renee Jacquard
Perry Ivins ... Bedell, Lamartine's secretary
Director: Lewis Seiler / Hamilton MacFadden (uncredited)
"Charlie Chan in Paris" (Fox, 1935), directed by Lewis Seiler, the seventh installment to the long running and extremely popular 'Charlie Chan' mysteries starring Warner Oland, is an immediate sequel to "Charlie Chan in London" (1934), in which the story opens with the Oriental sleuth arriving in Paris following his latest case in London. What makes this particular episode special, other than the near perfect Paris backdrop sets and interesting suspense buildup near the conclusion, is the introduction of Keye Luke playing Charlie Chan's Number One Son, Lee. The chemistry between Oland and Luke worked out so well that Luke became a regular, thus, setting the pattern to the future installments that has made the series based on Earl Derr Bigger's created character so successful.
Following the montage of stock footage of Paris, the story immediately gets underway as Charlie Chan (Warner Oland), getting off the airplane where he is set to visit his friend, Victor DeCartier (Thomas Beck). While at the airport, Charlie comes across a crippled beggar, and after boarding a taxi, a rock crashing through the window that nearly misses him is picked up by Charlie with a note attached reading, "The purpose of your visit is known. If you place the least value of your life, leave France tonight. This is your only warning." Of course Charlie is not easily frightened. Having met other characters, including Max Corday (Erik Rhodes), Yvette Lamartine (Mary Brian) and Renee Jacquard (Ruth Peterson), Charlie is entertained at a café where he witnesses the Apache dance, where Naldi (Dorothy Appleby), a woman working as a dancer, actually an undercover agent, is murdered. While attempting to keep his appointment at Le Singe Bleu, Charlie encounters the mysterious beggar again. The beggar becomes the key element to the mystery, leading to more murders. Aside from his involvement with Yvette, accused of murdering her blackmailer, Albert DeFresno (John Miljan), Charlie encounters an intruder in his hotel room only to find him to be his son, Lee (Keye Luke), taking time away from college to visit and afterwards assist his father in solving his latest caper.
Featured in the supporting cast are: Minor Watson as Mr. Renaud; Henry Kolker as Monsieur LaMartine; John Qualen as Concierge; Murray Kinnell as Henri LaTouche; and Perry Ivins as Bedell. For his introduction to the series, Keye Luke's Lee addresses his father as "Dad," not "Pop" as he did in future installments. As the series progressed, the Lee character changed from a serious-minded son to comic relief.
Close to being virtually forgotten today, "Charlie Chan in Paris" is best known as being a lost entry in the series with a print to actually be discovered in the 1970s, while earlier episodes, "Charlie Chan Carries On" (1931), "Charlie Chan's Chance" (1932), "Charlie Chan's Greatest Case" (1933) and "Charlie Chan's Courage" (1934), all featuring Oland, continue to be among the missing links. Thanks to its discovery, "Charlie Chan in Paris" has become a welcome addition to the television markets, and at long last, introduced to television, in the New York City area anyway, during the summer months as part of the eight week public television series for WNET, Channel 13, titled "Lost and Found" (1978) hosted by Richard Schickel, with "Charlie Chan in Paris" as the only sound movie to the list of formerly lost silents presented. Schickel did go on to mention in his discussion about Keye Luke's performance as Chan's son to be actually a one-time commitment resulting an an addition to the series. In later years, "Charlie Chan in Paris" became one of several Chan titles to be distributed on video cassette, as well as being presented on American Movie Classics from 1989 to 1990, and seven years later, was resurrected on AMC from 1997 to 1998. With Warner Oland as one of the more notable Charlie Chan portrayers, his venture in Paris ranks one of the better entries and worthy screen entertainment for any mystery lover or follower to the 'Charlie Chan' mysteries. Next installment: "Charlie Chan in Egypt" (1935), with Warner Oland, but without Keye Luke
Excellent mystery with Warner Oland on trail of bond forgers who would undermine the Banque Lamartine. Aided by Lee Chan (Key Luke), Chan methodically unravels fraud and murder and ducks an attempt on his life. As with other entries in this series, the viewer cannot figure out the solution because key evidence is only revealed at the end. Chan knows more than the police and the viewer. If you know this and just sit back and enjoy, you will have a pleasant time. Of note is a dance apache done by Nardi at the Cafe du Singe Blue -- apache signifying a member of the Paris underground and not an American Indian tribe. Racial slurs grate us today but reflect the times. Lots of clues but as Chan says, "must turn up many stones to get to hiding place of snake." Recommended.
20th Century Fox recognized a money-spinner when it saw one. Between 1931 and 1942 the studio produced no fewer than 27 Charlie Chan films, first starring Warner Oland and later Sidney Toler. Unfortunately, of the sixteen films starring Warner Oland, four have been "lost." For a great many years, however, the number of "lost" films stood at five--until a single print of the 1935 CHARLIE CHAN IN Paris was located.
Like the earlier CHARLIE CHAN IN London, this film shows the series in full stride, a neat mixture of comedy and mystery bolstered by a solid cast. It is particularly notable as the first film in the series to introduce Chan's son Lee, memorably played by Asian-American actor Keye Luke, who would continue the role through several films. This episode finds Chan in, of course, Paris--pretending to be on vacation while in fact investigating counterfeit bank bonds in a mystery that leads Chan to the infamous sewers of the city.
Chan films, particularly those starring Oland, often use the device of allowing other characters to show vulgar racism toward Chan--and Chan often encourages such dismissiveness to his own ends; underestimation of Chan's talents often delivers the killer into the detective's hand. At times, however, the device has an unfortunate tone, and that occurs here, particularly in an early scene which presents Chan speaking in pidgin and then joining others in their laughter at the "joke." This sort of patronization would be soon dropped from the series, but it is significantly offensive when it occurs.
That aside, however, CHARLIE CHAN IN Paris is quite a good entry in the series, which features dancing spies, stolen love letters, and shots in the dark. The cinematography is typically static and the acting is a bit broad, as is typically of many mid-1930s films, but it's quite a bit of fun.