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Charlie Chan (Warner Oland) and Chief of Police Jules Joubert (Harold
track down theft of metallurgic bonds and murder in Monaco. Huber has a
great deal of time on screen and he plays his character with the comedy
mars his department. Supporting character actor Louise Mercier does a
job as a taxi driver whose conveyance gets the best of him and son Lee
Chan's misuse of French gets him into trouble.
Early theme in movie is repeated use of number `25.' Lee points out that their hotel room is 125, he is 25 years old, this is the 25th of August, this is the Chinese Year 9325 - and therefore the number 25 will be lucky at the roulette wheel. Chan point out that Lee had borrowed $25 the week before. Later we learn that the value of the missing bonds is $25,000, one of the suspects borrows an amount equal to $25,000, and heretofore there had not been a murder in Monaco for 25 years. Poor writing fails to capitalize on this theme and the storyline sounds better in movie reviews than as portrayed on the screen.
Lots of misdirection and suspicion but in the end, Chan and the police trap (`Questions are keys to door of truth') the guilty party using knowledge that was known only to police and not the viewer. One clue might have been picked up on by an observant viewer, but the other part of the explanation at the end goes beyond what we could have known. When confronted, the guilty party makes a final error in revealing yet another fact known only to police and murderer (again not to viewer). Not one the best of the Chan series.
This is the final appearance of Oland live in a produced film - he died the following year. In this movie, as Chan, he says: `Humble presence of no more importance than one drop of rain in cloudburst.' On the contrary - although the Chan series is not high art, this viewer thinks that we are better for Oland having played the role.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
"Charlie Chan at Monte Carlo" would be Warner Oland's final turn as the
Oriental Detective, as he died during filming of what would have been
"Charlie Chan at Ringside" later in the year 1938. Interestingly, Keye
Luke remained in the "Ringside" film portraying Number #1 Son Lee Chan,
as it was hastily rewritten into "Mr. Moto's Gamble" with Peter Lorre
in the title role.
As the Oland films progressed, so did the body count of victims who met their demise in the course of the story. In the first half dozen or so Charlie Chan films with Warner Oland, there was only one murder to be solved; in the next four films (Racetrack, Opera, Olympics, Broadway) there were two. More was not necessarily better, as "Monte Carlo" is not as highly regarded as many of the other Oland Chan's.
Harold Huber appeared in "Charlie Chan on Broadway" as an ineffective New York City police inspector; in "Monte Carlo", his character is an ineffective French police officer, although his accent passes reasonably well. His presence treads the line between serious noir drama and comedy relief.
The story itself involves the repeated theft and reappearance of a series of metallurgic bonds worth twenty five thousand dollars. At the center of the mystery are two wealthy but antagonistic businessmen, Victor Karnoff (Sidney Blackmer) and Paul Savarin (Edward Raquello), seen early in the film at a gaming table - "They play only to visit insult to each other." As commonly seen in Charlie Chan mysteries, there is a host of additional characters to keep track of before the final resolution is worked out by the Oriental Detective, with information not readily made available to the viewer.
To keep a light hearted touch in the film, there are a couple of running gags that include a backfiring taxi and Lee Chan's fractured attempt at the French language. When 'Pop' tries to order a breakfast plate of waffles using a hand drawn picture, the waiter brings him a crossword puzzle book. Earlier, Lee's description of a dead body found in an abandoned car resulted in a confession to the murder!
Lee's all around legend as a jack of all trades is added to here, as we learn that he has a painting to be shown at a Paris exhibition, adding to his reputation as college student, businessman, and gold medal swimmer. It would be another ten years before Keye Luke shows up again in a Charlie Chan film, co-starring with Roland Winters in the role of Charlie, along with Victor Sen Yung as Number #2 Son Tommy, the only time Luke and Sen Yung would appear together in a Chan film as brothers. Oddly, Luke never appeared in a Chan film with Sidney Toler, who replaced Warner Oland in the next twenty two Charlie Chan mysteries!
As usual, Charlie and Number One Son are visiting when coincidentally
there are murders. This time they seem to have something to do with
stolen securities which seem to vanish and re-appear like magic. Unlike
many of the films, though, Chan and Son seem to be caught up more in
the action instead of passively investigating after the fact.
Many of the reviews seem to feel this is one of the weakest of the Warner Oland Charlie Chan films, though I liked it quite a bit and felt it stacked up well with the earlier films from the series. Why did I like it? Well, the stolen bonds angle seemed pretty interesting, Harold Huber (who had just played a New York police inspector in CHARLIE CHAN ON Broadway) was pretty good as a French cop and the film certainly kept my attention. It's not great, but still is a very competent part of a series of excellent and enjoyable detective films and a cut above similar series.
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 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.
Contrary to many of the reviews, I think this is one of the best
Charlie Chan movies and one of my my personal favorites. It's
wonderfully escapist, taking place as it does, in a fabled location
over 70 years ago.
The plot is a bit more sophisticated than many of the Chan films - no cigarettes that cause one to drop dead after one puff or poison gasses fabricated by Hollywood writers. The plot remains true to reality as valuable bonds pass from one set of slippery hands to another causing the murder of two people.
The production is stylish and most of the actors do a great job. The hyperactive, super energetic #1 son is only minimally so in this film, however Harold Huber as the chief of police overdoes himself in his brash and noisy performance. He is on camera almost as much as Chan and quickly becomes an irritant. His French accented English is almost as bad as his Brooklyn accented French.
Interestingly, all of the French characters speak French in the film - something one might expect in an art house film, but hardly in a B-movie. It certainly lends an air of authenticity but might be detracting to those who have not studied French.
Automobiles of the era play a big part in the film, the star vehicle being the gorgeous Rolls convertible that is featured in several scenes. There are many scenes of various cars - from beat-up taxis to limos fit for a king. (Watch the limo that pulls up to Karnoff's villa to pick up the bank messenger.) Also it seems that the police ride around in convertibles in Monaco!
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Charlie and Enumerated Son Number One visit Monte Carlo in this one.
There is a complicated scheme of murder and theft that follows and
Charlie solves same with help of the Chief of Police. It's difficult to
say much that's new about the movie because the series was so much the
same from one episode to another. Any differences were accidents, not
due to any change in essence. Warner Oland, as Charlie, doesn't really
seem to have much to do here except observe the goings on. And Number
One son contributes some humor, as when, for example, the seat of his
pants catch fire. Ha ha. Anyway, the series being as repetitive as it
was, any comments have to be either discursive or trivial.
The Chief of Police in this instance is Harold Huber. He may have a fancy French name -- Jules Etienne Joubert -- but this guy was born in New York. You can tell from his marked American accent when he speaks French. It's even worse than mine, and that's saying a lot. He and the uvular "r" are strangers to one another. And his enactment of the role is out of vaudeville but he does resemble Fernandel a little.
Two performances stand out. Edward Raquello is magnetic as the continentally unflappable, self-possessed, untrustworthy gambler. Man, has he got arrogant politesse down pat. His name notwithstanding, he was born in Poland. Can't imagine what happened to his career.
Virginia Field is memorable too. Well, not so much for her performance as for her attractiveness -- not quite beautiful but more than just ordinary features. When it's disclosed that she is a former model, it's believable.
Sidney Blackmer, as a wealthy suspect, does right by the role. He's pretty unpleasant. He had a long career and, when he tried being affable, as in "Rosemary's Baby", you could hear the agonized creak of joints long unused. In "The High and the Mighty" he was the angry passenger named Humphrey Agnew. That was in 1954 and came to be pretty funny later on. Kids, in the 1960s, Vice President Humphrey was succeeded by Vice President Agnew.
One can lose a good deal of money without trying in the casinos of Monte Carlo. The roulette wheels don't have the double zero of American casinos but that's no help. When I was there I squandered almost one fifth of my entire travel budget. Okay. Sneer if you like, but ten dollars was a lot of money in those days.
There's some comic bit that Keye Luke does that succeeds. It's not slapstick and it's not some dumb thing like his wearing disguises. I can't remember what it is now. I should have taken notes. But it's there, and worth a smile.
When Charlie and son Lee stay at Monte Carlo for an art exhibition
(Lee's become a painter now), naturally they also visit the famous
casino; where we soon get to know two exchange sharks, Gordon Karnoff
and Paul Savarin, 'fighting' grimly even at a game of Baccara, while at
the same time, Karnoff's wife Joan is in a tight spot: she took some of
his metallurgic bonds out of his safe and for some strange reason gave
them to bartender Al Rogers - and Karnoff intends to send those bonds
to the stock market that same night to be sold, which would mean
enormous losses for Savarin. She manages to recover the bonds, and her
brother Gordon, Karnoff's secretary, places them back in the safe with
the others, and so, after being checked, they're all sent by car to
France. But when Charlie and Lee happen to come along that same road,
they find the car stopped, the courier murdered, and the chauffeur
So, eagerly, Monsieur Joubert from the Monaco police takes on the case - but very soon, he's in despair: the chauffeur is also found murdered, and literally everybody involved in the whole affair could be guilty: Savarin of course, who on top of it all was seen with pretty young Evelyn (who over the past few months suddenly became a rich socialite from the humble model she was before) near the scene of the crime, Joan and the mysterious bartender, her brother Gordon who had access to all of Karnoff's papers - and even Karnoff himself, because very soon the fact is revealed that those bonds were of course insured. A VERY hard nut to crack for Joubert! But Lee has got an even bigger difficulty to cope with: the French language, which he's supposed to have learned at college... Once his desperate tries to express himself correctly even get him and his father into jail on a murder charge! So there are Lee and Joubert to provide the comical elements, while Charlie's calm reasoning finally leads to the capture of the murderer; not the most ingenious of plots, but some very fine performances, and of course some VERY wise philosophical remarks of our Chinese master sleuth...
This is the last 'Charlie Chan' movie starring Warner Oland, because unfortunately he died just a few months later. But we shall never forget that he left to the world 16 MAGNIFICENT performances, which would forever shape the character of our favorite Asian detective - and which will live on for generations and generations to enjoy.
Charlie Chan and "Number One Son" Lee are visiting Monte Carlo when a bank messenger is murdered and some bonds stolen. Sadly, this was Warner Oland's last Charlie Chan film. He's good in this, though he does seem a little 'off.' Whether this is my imagining things because I know about his problems offscreen, I don't know. He just doesn't seem as happy in this one as earlier films. Keye Luke is great, as always. Harold Huber, who appeared in Charlie Chan on Broadway as a different character, is fun here as a French police chief. It's not the best of the series, but still enjoyable. All of the Fox Chan films were at least watchable, whether Warner Oland or Sidney Toler were Chan. After the series moved to Monogram, quality declined greatly. The worst moments of Charlie Chan at Monte Carlo are better than anything in the Monogram series.
The famous Chinese detective is in Monte Carlo with eldest son Keye
Luke in Charlie Chan At Monte Carlo for a little relaxation before
going on to Paris. Of course Warner Oland was already there several
The murder of bank manager Georges Renavent and later of chauffeur John Bleifer and the theft of bank bonds of Sidney Blackmer is the case that Oland gets involved in. Later on an American gangster George Lynn is also murdered. Lynn's got his own little racket going concerning Blackmer's wife Kay Linnaker.
Blackmer's rival in another competing banking house also has much to gain. He's got a mistress played by Virginia Field who sends out her come hither glances and those are ultimately responsible for all three of the murders.
Not one of the better Charlie Chans from Warner Oland. There is however a funny scene with Charlie and number one son trying to order breakfast in French and see what Charlie gets. This was also the last film for Warner Oland.
Nice, but not as good as other Chan features.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Traveling from Monte Carlo to Nice, Charlie Chan and No.1 son Lee
discover and abandoned car. Inside the car, they find the dead body of
a bank messenger who was transporting $1 million in bonds belonging to
a wealthy industrialist named Victor Karnoff. There is no shortage of
suspects: Paul Savarin Karnoff's business rival; Joan Karnoff
Victor's wife who was being blackmailed; Al Rogers a shady bartender;
Evelyn Gray a woman living above her means; or Karnoff himself for
the insurance money. It's up to Charlie Chan to discover the truth.
Charlie Chan at Monte Carlo would be Warner Oland's last performance as the venerable detective. Unfortunately, it's one of the weakest Chan films Oland would make. It's not his fault instead the blame can be placed on a weak script and a couple of other factors. Chan films notoriously cheat the viewer in that the solution to the mystery too often relies on facts not available to the audience. Charlie Chan at Monte Carlo is especially guilty of this. Key clues that help trap the killer are known only to Chan and the French Police Inspector. As for the other factors I mentioned, one of these would be Harold Huber. Huber, who appeared in two other Chan films, really lays it on thick here with his over-the-top acting and ridiculous French accent. It gets annoying rather quickly.
Still, this is Charlie Chan I'm talking about so it's not all bad. In fact, even a weak Chan film is still an enjoyable experience. It's just a shame that Oland couldn't have gone out on a higher note.
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