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
Charlie turns on a gramophone to play some eastern music in order to 'charm' a snake on his bed, but snakes follow the movements of the snake-charmer rather than the rhythm of the music, and Charlie Chan remains still. See more »
Like most of the Warner Oland Chan films, this one really delivers
Fans of the Charlie Chan films should see this film for one reason in particular--it's a very rare chance to see the entire huge Chan clan in a single film. In most Chan films, there are one or two of the Chan children along to "help"(?) their father. However, here there are all twelve plus Mrs. Chan--a real rarity and proof that Charlie had interests other than police work!
The film is set at a circus where there is a mysterious murder--supposedly perpetrated by an ape! However, things don't add up and it's up to Charlie and his romantically challenged oldest son, Lee, to solve the crime. Along the way, you'll see midgets, tall guys, trapeze artists and the like--all providing an unusual and welcome backdrop to the investigation. Practically everything works well, though in 1930s fashion, there is an ape that is obviously just some guy in a gorilla costume (so I'll deduct a point). A bad cliché, but otherwise a great and exciting film--as are all the Chan films starring Warner Oland (the series, unfortunately, sagged a bit after his death).
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