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
Stage manager Maurice Cass vows that the opera will go on "even if Frankenstein walks in!" Audiences were well aware that this in-joke referred to star Boris Karloff, who was in the theater at the time. 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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This entry in the long-running and hugely popular 'Charlie Chan' series takes us into the distinguished - and a bit decadent - world of grand opera: famous soprano singer Lilli Rochelle, eccentric and somewhat conceited, is on the brink of hysteria because she's received a death threat for the very same day - her opening night in Los Angeles, after being away for seven years. And on exactly the same day, an amnesiac breaks out of a mental asylum after seven years; because, as soon as he sees her picture in the papers, he seems to remember something...
Meanwhile, we learn that second soprano Anita Barelli is madly jealous of Lilli - not only because she's the star, but mainly because she's got an affair with her husband! And then there's a young couple hanging around backstage all the time, for some reason trying by all means to get to Lilli - but then the opera performance starts, and very soon a murderous drama REALLY worthy of any opera libretto begins to take its course...
Except for the comic relief provided by Lee Chan and the cops, this film is pretty earnest, at times dramatic, if not even melodramatic; but we must undoubtedly admit that Boris Karloff probably plays one of the BEST roles of his life here: mad, full of hatred, and then again pitiful and sympathetic... While in other movies he usually only showed parts of his full acting range at a time - here he demonstrates them all in one!
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