Torchy Blane in Chinatown (1939)

Passed  |   |  Action, Comedy, Crime  |  4 February 1939 (USA)
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Torchy Blane has to solve a blackmail case.



(characters), (original story "The Purple Hieroglyph") (as Will Jenkins) , 1 more credit »
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Complete credited cast:
Glenda Farrell ...
Tom Kennedy ...
Henry O'Neill ...
Senator Baldwin
Captain Condon
Mr. Mansfield
Janet Shaw ...
Janet Baldwin
Frank Shannon ...
George Guhl ...
Anderson Lawler ...
Richard Bond ...
Eddy Chandler ...
Captain McDonald (as Ed Chandler)


Newspaper reporter "Torchy" Blaine and police detective Steve McBride are on the trail of an Oriental gang that has committed three murders. Also on hand is a fabricated Scotland Yard operative who is a phony, and has two others assisting him in an effort to throw the police department off the trail; they are trying to exhort $250,000 from a young rich man who is trying to marry a senator's daughter. A submarine gets involved. Written by Les Adams <>

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Release Date:

4 February 1939 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

El jade fatal  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?


The print actually credits the "original story" to Murray Leinster and Will Jenkins. Perhaps the filmmakers didn't realize that "Will Jenkins" is a pseudonym for Leinster, but it was probably just an inside joke. See more »


The Senator states that he is going to announce his daughter's engagement at a party at his Long Island house in three days, on Friday, in the evening. To shift the movie to the party a copy of the party invitation is shown. The invitation announces that the party is on Monday. See more »


Detective Sergeant Gahagan: Quit kidding, Torchy. You ain't no lady. You're a reporter.
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Follows Fly Away Baby (1937) See more »


Garden of the Moon
Music by Harry Warren
Played when Torchy turns over the cards when playing bridge
See more »

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User Reviews

As much about Chinatown as was Roman Polanski's Chinatown
26 March 2005 | by (Corrales, NM) – See all my reviews

Fifth in the series of reporter-criminologist Torchy Blane who assists Detective Lieutenant Steve McBride in solving crimes. In this entry, Torchy figures out the solution to the deaths of three prominent men but allows Steve to get the credit at the end and make the collar. If this subservience is not enough, we are subjected to rampant racial stereotyping of Chinese and blacks. Detective Sergeant Gahagan provides comic relief that includes in this film his breaking into poetry from time to time. The film does involve Chinese burial tablets and has a few superficial shots that might have been take on the street of a major city "Chinatown" but the plot does not have anyone going there and doing anything. This version mostly takes place in police stations, at The Adventurers Club, homes, and at sea where a contribution is made by the US Navy. The plot is a remake of the 1920 "The Purple Cipher" and the1930 "Murder Will Out." It involves a combination of revenge murder and blackmail. There are notes to victims passed on Chinese laundry tickets and via additional means. Death comes via a multitude of means and bodies have a habit of disappearing. Fair.

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