A New York nightclub singer plans to reveal gangsters named in her private diary. The diary disappears and the singer is murdered. Charlie Chan is called into to investigate.
Warner Oland ... Charlie Chan
Keye Luke ... Lee Chan, #1 Son
Joan Marsh ... Joan Wendall, Photographer
J. Edward Bromberg ... Murdock, Editor New York Bulletin
Douglas Fowley ... Johnny Burke
Harold Huber ... Chief Inspector James Nelson NYPD
Donald Woods ... Speed Patten, Reporter New York Bulletin
Louise Henry ... Billie Bronson
Joan Woodbury ... Marie Collins aka Mrs. Thomas Mitchell
Leon Ames ... Buzz Moran
Marc Lawrence ... Thomas Mitchell
Toshia Mori ... Ling Tse (as Tashia Mori)
Charles Williams ... Meeker, Burke's Lawyer
Snappy Warner Oland as Charlie Chan murder mystery set at sea and in New York. Oland's slowness in this film is complemented by good direction from an old hand, a total of five writers, and a great supporting cast. Harold Huber, making his Chan debut, plays an active and effective police inspector that works with and not in parallel with Chan. Joan Marsh looks great and turns in a solid performance. Keye Luke is allowed to help rather than hinder the crime solution. I suppose that Joan Woodbury's dancing was all the rage at the time.
Plot involves diary that if published will cause a great deal of harm to a lot of people: `No poison more deadly than ink.' Lots of misdirection with an obvious suspect and another who it appears will be actually guilty: `Murder case like revolving door, when one side close another side open.' In the end, the police and Chan trap the killer but not until Chan reveals clues that the viewer cannot have been aware. Racial slurs against Orientals remain in the series with the New York Police Band playing `Chinatown' in honor of Chan's arrival. Interesting use of `Candid Camera' theme at the Hottentot Club. One of the better Oland Chan films - recommended.
Another really well done, atmospheric, Warner Oland/20th Century Fox Chan film. Although the film has nothing to do with the theater, as some might expect from the title, it is set amid the exotic night life of Broadway of the late 30's. It begins with Charlie and Lee aboard an ocean liner. Then in New York, the Hottentot Club is the main setting along with the hotel Chan and other notables stay at. This captures the mood of New York in the 30's--at least from a Hollywood perspective. The supporting cast is top notch with J. Edward Bromberg, Harold Huber in his best Chan role, Leon Ames, Marc Lawrence, Donald Woods, Louise Henry and Joan Marsh. The script is very clever. The hunt is on for a missing diary that could blow the lid off the mobs. Loads of fun!
Charlie (Warner Oland) and Number One Son (Keye Luke) investigate a murder at NYC's Hottentot Club. It's a standard whodunit, with half a dozen or so suspects.
The problem with this film is that the story is rather slight. The film's runtime is only 68 minutes. And yet, most of the film's first half is filled with plot points that relate only in a peripheral way to the murder. There's the business about Charlie getting seasick aboard a ship. Later, Charlie and his son chop logic over a missing button. At the Hottentot, quite a bit of time is spent on a floor show consisting of a chorus line and a girl who engages in a lengthy dance. The murder investigation doesn't even begin until halfway into the film.
The murder plot itself is only mildly interesting, and relates more to city mobsters than to anything having to do with "Broadway". Production design, however, is quite good, at least by Charlie Chan standards. The script is rather heavy on dialogue. And we have the usual Charlie Chan aphorisms.
The identity of the murderer is not hard to figure out, owing to poor film direction. Some of Charlie's logic about who the murderer is, is not consistent with the film's plot. And there's very little suspense in this film.
Except for the production design, especially at the Hottentot, I found this particular Charlie Chan mystery to be disappointing. The main weakness lies in a meager script that needed more character development and a larger, more complex story.