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The Black Camel (1931)

Passed | | Crime, Mystery, Thriller | 21 June 1931 (USA)
The unsolved murder of a Hollywood actor several years earlier and an enigmatic psychic are the keys to help Charlie solve the Honolulu stabbing death of a beautiful actress.

Director:

(uncredited)

Writers:

(novel), (adaptation) (as Hugh Stange) | 4 more credits »
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Cast

Complete credited cast:
...
...
...
Tarneverro
...
Shelah Fane
...
Robert Fyfe
Murray Kinnell ...
Archie Smith
William Post Jr. ...
Alan Jaynes
...
Jimmy Bradshaw
Violet Dunn ...
Anna
J.M. Kerrigan ...
Thomas MacMasters
Mary Gordon ...
Mrs. MacMasters
Rita Rozelle ...
Otto Yamaoka ...
Kashimo
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Storyline

Movie star Sheila Fayne is seeing wealthy Alan Jaynes while filming in Honolulu, Hawaii, but won't marry him without consulting famed psychic Tanaverro first. Tanaverro confronts her about the unsolved murder of fellow film star Denny Mayo three years earlier, and she decides to reject Jaynes' proposal. When Sheila is found shot to death in her beach-front pavilion, Charlie Chan of the Honolulu Police investigates. Written by Sister Grimm <srgrimm@teleport.com>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

CHARLIE CHAN'S Latest Thriller


Certificate:

Passed | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

21 June 1931 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Charlie Chan in the Black Camel  »

Filming Locations:

 »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

| (Western Electric System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.20 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

This film was first telecast in New York City Wednesday 13 January 1954 on WCBS (Channel 2), in Detroit Monday 25 January 1954 on WXYZ (Channel 7), in Los Angeles Saturday 8 May 1954 on KNBH (Channel 4), and in San Francisco Wednesday 13 April 1955 on KRON (Channel 4). See more »

Goofs

The plot of this otherwise quite entertaining mystery contains a hole the size of the Grand Canyon. Part of the solution hinges on a close resemblance between a murdered actor and one of the suspects. In fact, two other characters hide portions of a torn photograph to cover up that resemblance - this despite the fact that most of the suspects admit to having been acquaintances (at least!) of said earlier murder victim. All the suspects would, therefore have to have been quite familiar with the resemblance between one of them and the dead actor, and only the murderer (and possibly one or two other characters) would have any reason to conceal the resemblance. Surely the innocent suspects would have immediately have informed Chan of what they knew, yet no-one mentions it! See more »

Quotes

Charlie Chan: Secret of this case harder to determine than alley cat's grandfather.
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Connections

Followed by City in Darkness (1939) See more »

Soundtracks

Na Lei O Hawaii
(uncredited)
Written by Charles E. King
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User Reviews

 
Great movie, and a welcome rediscovery
3 September 2007 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

I'd seen this film before on a private-edition videotape and have now watched it again on the version in the Fox Charlie Chan, vol. 3 DVD boxed set. This is one of the greatest films in the Charlie Chan series with Warner Oland — of the later films that exist only "Charlie Chan at the Opera" (ironically with another horror icon, Boris Karloff, in its cast) matches it — thanks to Hamilton MacFadden's dark, atmospheric direction; a script that sticks closely to Earl Derr Biggers' source novel (except for omitting the long prologue on the ship that takes the principal characters to Hawai'i); superb art direction by Ben Carré and a marvelous cast, including Bela Lugosi playing an unusual range of emotions for him (the scene in which he confronts Dorothy Revier early on is especially impressive and not at all what we think of as Lugosi's usual acting style); a welcome reunion between him and his "Dracula" cast-mate Dwight Frye; Robert Young looking like he just graduated from high school as the suitor of Shelah Fane's personal assistant (Sally Eilers); and excellent cinematography by Joseph August and Daniel Clark, more prestigious cameramen than usually worked on the Chan films. It's nice to see Chan's family used the way they were in the Biggers novels (Biggers frequently wrote scenes in which the Chans sit down to dinner and Charlie brings them — and us — up to speed on the latest developments in his case), and another welcome touch in this film is the artful use of "source" Hawai'ian music in lieu of orchestral underscoring. While it's likely the Hawai'ian location trip only involved a second unit shooting backgrounds (there are some pretty obvious process shots here) and the Hawai'ian music could have just as easily been recorded in L.A. (where there was a large community of Hawai'ian musicians at the time), nonetheless "The Black Camel" is vividly atmospheric. Why Hamilton MacFadden didn't have much of a directorial career after the mid-1930's — and none at all after 1945 — is a mystery; judging by this film he would have been a "natural" for the noir genre.


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