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Charlie Chan's Secret (1936)

Approved | | Comedy, Crime, Horror | 10 January 1936 (USA)
The heir to a huge fortune is presumed drowned, then shows up, is then murdered.



(screenplay), (screenplay) | 4 more credits »

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While visiting the circus with his family, Charlie is recruited by the big top's co-owner to investigate threatening letters that he's received.

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Charlie visits a wealthy country home in England. Suspects in the murder range from a housekeeper, to a stableman, to a lawyer.

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When a strategically important new aerial guidance system is stolen, Charlie traces it to the Berlin Olympics, where he has to battle spies and enemy agents to retrieve it.

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When a friend of Charlie's is found kicked to death by his own race horse on board a Honolulu-bound liner, the detective discovers foul play and uncovers an international gambling ring.

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When a prominent official is murdered at a banquet honoring Charle Chan, the detective and son Lee team up to expose an opium-smuggling ring.

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Although Charlie and Lee are in Monaco for an art exhibit, they become caught up in a feud between rival financiers which involves the Chans in a web of blackmail and murder.

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Hired to investigate forged bonds, Charlie is thwarted by the murder of his undercover agent, but the arrival of son Lee helps him uncover the true culprits.

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Returning from European exile where she avoided testifying against her criminal associates, a former singer with a tell-all diary is murdered to ensure her silence.

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The unsolved murder of a Hollywood actor several years earlier and an enigmatic psychic are the keys to help Charlie solve the Honolulu stabbing death of a beautiful actress.

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An escaped convicted murderer hides out at a New York wax museum where he hopes to get plastic surgery, which will help him revenge himself on Charlie Chan.

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Complete credited cast:
Dick Williams
Edward Trevor ...
Fred Gage
Janice Gage
Herbert Mundin ...
Warren T. Phelps
Egon Brecher ...
Gloria Roy ...
Ivan Miller ...
Inspector Morton
Arthur Edmund Carewe ...
Prof. Bowen (as Arthur Edmund Carew)


An ocean liner sinks off Honolulu and Allen Colby, heir to millions, is presumed dead...but local sleuth Charlie Chan is not so sure, and flies to San Francisco to investigate further. Somehow, the missing Colby is there ahead of him...but is knifed in the back before seeing anyone. Further events revolve around spiritualist Mrs. Lowell, her family of suspicious characters, and the spooky, untenanted Colby mansion, where the body turns up during a seance! Written by Rod Crawford <puffinus@u.washington.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


San Francisco is the scene of Chan's newest and most baffling mystery!


Approved | See all certifications »




Release Date:

10 January 1936 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Charlie Chanova skrivnost  »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Noiseless Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Copyright 1935, and the last Warner Oland entry NOT to feature Keye Luke. See more »


When Charlie is searching the house while using a flashlight, the beam of light is not from the flashlight, angle is wrong and his wrist is exposed in the beam of light. See more »


Charlie Chan: [to psychic] Most fortunate gift to be able to cross bridge to dwelling place of honorable ancestors before arriving.
See more »


Followed by Charlie Chan and the Curse of the Dragon Queen (1981) See more »

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User Reviews

Far from typical Charlie Chan Mystery is also one of the better entries
24 October 2009 | by (Glen Cove, New York) – See all my reviews

More serious Chan story has the detective going it alone as he tries to solve the mystery of a missing heir. The mystery becomes a question of murder in short order and the detective tries to find the killer before he is the next victim.

Atypical Chan is undeservedly forgotten, even by me. I remember the film not because of what it is, a cracking good mystery, rather because of what its not, a film with little humor and no of his kids to help him. Its a wonderful change of pace that marked a break from the formula that would dominate most of the films in the series. The film also has one of the best mysteries, as in the plot of what is really going on, in the entire 40 plus film series.. Closer in a way to the darkness of some of the later films, this is one of the Chans thats really is perfect for a dark and rainy night. Recommended

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