Detective James Lee Wong is on the scene as archaeologist Dr. John Benton, recently returned from an expedition in China where a valuable ancient scroll was recovered, is murdered while giving a lecture on the expedition.
A Pathe serial in ten chapters of two-reels each: Dan Winterslip, a wealthy man in Honolulu, has not spoken to his brother, who owns a hotel next to Winterslip's estate, in over twenty ... See full summary »
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
Gabe Taverney (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Chan: "Silent witness sometimes speaks loudest"...
This is a diverting, pleasantly enjoyable Charlie Chan film with WARNER OLAND as CHARLIE CHAN AT THE CIRCUS. In this outing, he takes his entire family to the circus while they're all on vacation and has to put up with the fumbling assistance of #1 son KEY Luke, who serves as comic relief.
Even more so than in most Chan entries, every utterance from Oland sounds like a Chinese fortune cookie--non-stop. And none of them sound authentically Chinese. That's the main quibble I have with the screenplay. But for the most part, it moves at a fast pace while it examines a group of suspects, all of whom had a motive for wanting the murdered man (the financial manager) out of the way.
The circus dancing team of midgets GEORGE and OLIVE BRASNO opens the story with some neat ballroom dance steps, but most of the plot focuses on an angry ape locked up in his cage but sometimes set loose. The murderer even makes it appear that the ape might have been responsible.
The only attempt on Chan's life comes from a poisonous snake that his son dispatches with a shotgun. Other than that, he's never in any real danger and that's where the plot falters slightly.
Meantime, we hear lots of his clichés and they don't sound very Oriental: "Size of package does not indicate quality within." "Give man plenty of rope and he will hang self." "Troubles rain on man already wet." And when he has a plan to catch the murderer, he says: "Silent witness sometimes speaks loudest." Enjoyable stuff for any mystery fan of the Chan series, but the material is all too familiar even for most Chan fans.
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