With Charlie Chan distracted by the imminent birth of his first grandchild, young Tommy Chan persuades his older brother Jimmy (eager to be a detective) to take Pop's place when a call comes in directing Charlie to investigate a murder aboard a freighter. Charlie eventually learns of this and boards the ship to straighten out its slew of suspects, a cargo hold full of wild animals, and two well-meaning but ineffectual sons. Written by
Hollywood, California, Monday, October 17, 1938: Darryl F. Zanuck has selected Sidney Toler to play the role of Charlie Chan, succeeding the late Warner Oland. His first picture will be "Charlie Chan in Honolulu" which will start production October 24, with John Stone as the associate producer. Toler was discovered by Sol M. Wurtzel when he looked at rushes of Up the River, current 20th Century-Fox picture in which Toler is a featured player. See more »
When Jimmy Chan (Sen Yung) is chasing after a suspect he accidentally trips over a cart knocking himself out. In the scene it is clearly a stunt double as we can see the stunt man's Caucasian face as he trips and falls. See more »
Fairly good blend of comedy and mystery. There's been a murder aboard ship in Honolulu and Charlie must leave his clan and expectant daughter-in-law to investigate. Highlight for me is George Zucco doing his mad scientist routine with usual straight face. Here he collects human brains in bottles, and when he grabs Jimmy Chan (Sen Yung) to measure his head, it's funnier than all the other antics combined. Fine cast, including fast-talking Dick Lane, sinister Marc Lawrence, Kewpie-doll Phyllis Brooks, and the much-underrated Claire Dodd with a force to her that's good enough for A-pictures. Also, it's a sprightly Sydney Toler in his first turn as the Chinese detective. For me, the rotund rubber-faced Eddie Collins is a matter of taste, but he does have his moments with the pet lion (likely left over from another production). Anyway, it's a good fast 60 minutes with a well-developed array of suspects and a number of chuckles.
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