Andrew Garfield, Mahershala Ali, Ruth Negga, and five others received their first-ever acting nominations for 2017. While these actors are new to the Academy Awards, you may recognize them from their earlier work.
Chan is on a gambling vacation in Monaco. He is called upon to solve two murders. One is a casino messenger on his way to Paris with a million dollars in bonds. The other is a two-bit Chicago gangster recently tending bar in a Monte Carlo hotel. Everyone is suspect and a third of the dialogue is in French. Written by
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Murder at Monte Carlo from 1937 is a very enjoyable Charlie Chan mystery, with Warner Oland as Chan, Keye Luke as Lee Chan, and Sidney Blackmer, Virginia Field, and Harold Huber.
Charlie and Lee are en route to an exhibition in Paris, in which Lee has a painting, when they stop in Monaco. The police inspector there is thrilled to meet Charlie and brings him to the casino. There Charlie sees two high-powered businessmen, Paul Savarin and Victor Karnoff (Blackmer) playing ruthlessly against one another.
The Chans are trying to get to their train when their taxi breaks down, so they set out on foot. They find a body, that of Karnoff's messenger, in a car. He had been carrying bonds that were to be sold. The sale supposedly would have wiped out his enemy, Savarin. Charlie and Lee return to Monte Carlo and work with the inspector to solve the murder.
There are some strange situations. First of all, Mrs. Karnoff (Kay Linaker) is being blackmailed by the hotel barman, Al Rogers (George Lynn) and has paid him with bonds - bonds which are expected to be sold that evening. She needs them back, but Rogers refuses to hand them over.
The second strange thing is a woman at the hotel, a former model (Field) who seems to have no money yet dresses beautifully and lives in luxury. Where is she getting her money? There are plenty of suspects, but also more than one body as time goes on.
This is lots of fun, with Lee Chan getting into all sorts of trouble -- even with his lousy French, he manages to get himself and his father in trouble. Part of this film is in French but the situations are easy to read. Oland, Luke, and Huber as the inspector are delightful, and Sidney Blackmer is very good. The woman that plays his wife, Kay Linaker, is one of the worst actresses I've ever seen. To be fair, these films were shot very quickly, and often the director wasn't as focused as he should have been. It's one of those performances where someone asks her what's wrong and she says no in a terrified voice, with her eyes widening as she turns away.
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