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
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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Generally considered the best in this series, and I would agree that it's up there somewhere. Boris Karloff (the screen credits read: "Warner Oland vs. Boris Karloff" -- cute!) is a mental patient with amnesia who escapes the sanitarium when he remembers that he was formerly an opera singer who was once locked in his dressing room during a fire and left for dead. He then returns to the opera house to sing again and settle a score, with the famous Charlie Chan on the murder trail.
A brisk and enjoyable installment, playing up big Karloff's infamous reputation as a bogeyman, yet I have to say he sometimes comes off as humorous while mouthing the words to the dubbed opera vocals. Though his contemporary rival, Bela Lugosi, is often slammed for overacting, Boris is no slouch himself in this department here, over-expressing and hamming it up all over the place. Charlie's number one son Lee (Keye Luke) is somewhat underused this time, for some reason. In his place seems to be William Demarest, who is entertaining in this movie, running around as a frazzled American cop also struggling to solve the case and keep up with master detective Chan (Demarest does his own stunts which includes one really impressive comedic fall). With Demarest's occasional quips toward competitor Chan, it felt like this particular entry was more heavy on the "Asian stereotype charge" than usual. But in the end, it's still Charlie Chan who remains most respectable and more brilliant than everyone else. *** out of ****
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