Charlie receives fourteen free passes to the circus for him and his entire family but soon realizes that there are strings attached as the big top's co-owner asks his guest to investigate threatening letters that he's received. Before the famous detective can, the man is murdered. Charlie soon finds out that the co-owner was not a particularly pleasant or well-liked individual, and among the many suspects are his partner, a snake charmer and the menagerie's gorilla. Son Lee, usually an enthusiastic assistant for his father, is distracted by the show's beautiful contortionist. Written by
Thoroughly entertaining and enjoyable Chan vehicle with the ever- adroit Warner Oland carrying off the Chan role this time in a circus venue. Charlie and his large family are out with a free pass enjoying the circus when(to use a cliché) death strikes under the big top. One of the partners and it seems a man virtually no ones likes dies from what appears to be by a rampaging fake -looking ape(sorry, this is even early for George Barrows!). Charlie must determine what could have taken place in this locked box car that might have a different explanation. Along the way we are treated to intriguing circus types - in particular two "midgets" wonderfully played by the brother/sister team of George and Olive Brasno. Some interesting red herrings are delivered as well as the light comedy touches that are customary with a good Chan film: pithy sayings laced with much wisdom, Charlie and his son Keye Luke's wonderful chemistry and humor, and Oland's general pleasant/pleasing portrayal of a man who has twelve children. Charlie Chan at the Circus isn't a great Chan film but it is a very good one and a fun one to be sure. Join the circus!
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