After receiving congratulations from the Home Secretary for solving his most recent case, Charlie is sought out by Pamela Gray, a beautiful but desperate young socialite whose brother Paul awaits execution for the murder of a weapons inventor. She is so convinced of his innocence that she becomes distraught when she overhears Neil Howard, her brother's lawyer and her fiancee, confide to the detective his belief in his client's guilt. Angered at this disclosure, she returns his ring and breaks off the engagement. Although the execution will take place in 65 hours, Charlie pledges to expose the murderer. All potential suspects are reassembled in the country mansion of family friend Geoffrey Richmond, where the murder took place, as Charlie tries to expose the real murderer before time runs out. Written by
Gabe Taverney (email@example.com)
CHARLIE CHAN IN London is a good example of a well-produced, lower budget "B" film from Fox studios in 1934. Three earlier films seem to be lost, so this is the first in the line-up that remains today. As such, it stars Warner Oland, Swedish by birth, as the Chinese detective, Charlie Chan. Today's film historians grant Oland much credit for creating the screen persona of Chan. This film lends support to their belief. Oland presents Chan as a detective who looks for even the smallest of clues in his search to find the killer. His euphemisms during the hunt are so engaging that they draw the viewer in even closer until, by the end of the film, one is convinced that Chan is without peer in his chosen profession.
CHARLIE CHAN IN London also stars Drue Layton as the distraught woman who pleads with Chan to save her brother from execution for a murder she believes he never committed. Layton only made ten films in her entire career. She is well cast in this one.
Ray Milland supplies the star quality as Layton's fiancée. Milland bear's that quality of sincerity that characterized him in later years.
Not to be overlooked is that fine British actor, Alan Mowbray. Mowbray excelled at comedy and, in fact, became quite a favorite with audiences of the 30s and 40s. This is an example of his earlier work where he excelled in straight dramatic roles.
The action takes place in a British mansion. Included in the goings-on is a fox hunt, an attempt on Charlie's life, and other events guaranteed to keep the audience guessing. Missing is Charlie Chan's number one son, Keye Luke. Luke makes his first appearance in the next production, CHARLIE CHAN IN Paris.
Twentieth-Century Fox pulled these programs from their broadcast schedule because of the political pressure exerted by today's Asian-American actors in Hollywood who object to a non-Asian playing an Asian character. Accordingly, you will not find CHARLIE CHAN IN London, nor any other Chan film for that matter, on your television set. It's a shame, for this is an authentic piece of motion picture history. However, CHARLIE CHAN IN London can be purchased as a DVD release from Fox in the retail stores. This motion picture is well worth the purchase price.
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