Gravelle, a former baritone believed dead after an opera house fire, has been languishing in a mental institution for the past seven years, an anonymous amnesiac. When he fortuitously sees a news story about his former wife's current appearance at the local opera, his memory returns. He escapes, and, disguised in costume, seeks revenge for a failed attempt on his life years earlier. When the guilty parties are found stabbed to death, Charlie Chan and son Lee try to find out if the dangerous fugitive is the one responsible. Written by
Gabe Taverney (email@example.com)
Boris Karloff, did not do his own singing in this film. His voice was dubbed by a singer named Tudor Williams. See more »
When they characters are all gathered in the dressing room after the murders and they are questioning Childers, he says he knew Madame Barelli well. What he actually meant to say Madame Rochelle (or Madame Lilli as she was being referred to). See more »
Sanitarium Guard 1:
What's the mater Joe? Nervous?
Sanitarium Guard 2:
Aw this job gives me gooseflesh. You're new here, but in a couple of months you'll get as jumpy as me.
Sanitarium Guard 1:
Hey I've worked around sanitariums before, it's not so bad. I like the cuckoos myself. They're the same as anyone else only they're smart enough to admit they're nuts.
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I've seen at least half of the Chan movies, and this one is easily the best. First of all, the pacing is incredible. This movie doesn't let you catch your breath for the first 50 minutes or more. No slow, dragging plot or padding. It starts off with an ominous thunder storm at an insane asylum, moves to a violent escape (did Gravelle kill or just knock-out the intern?), then moves to a cavernous opera house that provides an opportunity for Karloff to play his own version of phantom of the opera.
I love how the movie starts out with opera music under the credits. It's extremely powerful, moving music and literally sets the stage, warning viewers that this is no regular Charlie Chan movie. It's big, it's powerful, and you better hold on tight because the foot's on the pedal and we ain't slowin' down!
Next is Karloff's performance. This is my favorite role I've ever seen him in. He was perfect as a quirky, amnesiac. I loved the way he always had a far-away look in his eyes when he talked, kind of like members of the Manson family when you would see them on TV. He always seemed like he was in another world (a world of music, right?) - kind of spaced-out, detached, and disoriented. And near the end, he was a very sympathetic character with Kitty. If you think about all that Gravelle had to endure, it was heart-breaking. I think Karloff did a top-notch job!
The only thing that detracts from this film is Uncle Charlie's (Wm. Demerest) relentless abuse of Mr. Chan. A little bit would be OK, but it became nauseating after awhile. I'm not one these politically correct types, but it's just too much here. Demerest reminds me of cranky Granny from the Beverly Hillbillies, when she's in one of her moods where nothing makes her happy.
If you've never seen a Chan film, don't start with this one. You'll be disappointed with the rest...
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