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 (1938), 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 »
"Making bedfellow of serpent no guarantee against snakebite."
Charlie Chan (Sidney Toler) is called to investigate a murder aboard a freighter docked in Honolulu. There's pressure on Charlie to solve the case quickly so the freighter can leave, as well as waiting on news about the birth of his first grandchild and dealing with meddlesome son Jimmy's attempts to be a detective.
It was nice to see Charlie's family again, especially Charlie Chan, Jr. (Layne Tom, Jr.). This is also the first appearance of "Number Two Son" Jimmy Chan (Victor Sen Yung). He's not as charming as Keye Luke's Lee Chan, but he's fun and enjoyable in his own way. Supporting cast features Robert Barrat, Richard Lane, and the great George Zucco. This is Sidney Toler's first Charlie Chan film. Toler's Chan was different from Oland's. A little more snark from Charlie and more comic relief from sidekicks. While I prefer Warner Oland, Sidney Toler was an admirable replacement and most of his Chan movies are good. At least until the series moved to Monogram.
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