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Thursday, December 3, 2009

CHARLIE CHAN IN SHANGHAI (1936)


This entry in the long-running series gets bonus points for getting Warner Oland’s Charlie Chan to sing a traditional diatonic Chinese tune (w/ English lyrics) and even to speak a bit of Mandarin. Add in a murder mystery that’s twistier than usual (diplomats, opium smuggling, crooked cops) and some physical action for Lee Chan (the endearing & spirited Key Luke as Chan’s #1 Son) and you should have the makings for top-tier Chan. Alas, under the inert megging of James Tinling who’s also responsible for the sole weak link in the superior MR. MOTO series, the story never kicks into gear. Even solid supporting players like Halliwell Hobbes & Russell Hicks just walk thru their parts as if they were still rehearsing. But check out a true oddity on the DVD’s Extras: A handsome print of a recast Spanish language version of the long lost CHARLIE CHAN CARRIES ON/’31; Spanish title-ERAN TRECE. Chan shows up very late in this one, so you may want to zoom ahead just to see how the great detective fares in Spanish.

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