|Index||10 reviews in total|
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
"Torchy Blane In Chinatown" is one of the better entries in the series. The plot, involving extortion, pre-announced murders and suspicious Chinese secret cults, may be semi-predictable, but at least it keeps moving. Glenda Farrell gives one of her most energetic performances as Torchy, and she has some of her wittiest lines as well ("What are you doing wandering around a graveyard?" - "Oh skipper, I've been a lost soul ever since you've been neglecting me"). She also ditches the "work clothes" for a while and wears a dress, for the first time in the series if I'm not mistaken. On the other hand, Steve is rather cold to her in this episode, but he redeems himself at the end. **1/2 out of 4.
Glenda Farrell really shows up the police department in Torchy Blane In
Chinatown. She's got the whole thing figured out long before the cops
get wise. Of course interestingly enough the apprehension of the
villains themselves is a really good idea cooked up by Barton MacLane.
Henry O'Neill plays a US Senator who is a collector of Chinese jade and when he purchases some jade death masks he gets threats, the unsigned note threats and in Chinese. Fortunately Patric Knowles is around to translate the threats.
Their ancestors graves have been defamed, but a little American hard cash will sooth the ancestor's feelings and be good for their descendants as well. It all smells pretty bad, but it's Torchy Blane who catches the right whiff.
Tom Kennedy as Geohagen once again steals the show. Seeing Kennedy in New York harbor rowing that boat to the final rendezvous was quite a sight.
If Torchy could figure it out you can too. Even with that the film is still kind of fun. And MacLane comes in handy in the apprehension. You have to see what he uses.
Torchy Blane in Chinatown (1939)
** (out of 4)
The seventh film in the series finds Torchy (Glena Farrell) once again getting in the way as Detective McBride (Barton MacLane) tries to figure out who killing off a group of people with a connection to some valuable Chinese treasures. TORCHY BLANE IN CHINATOWN seems like it would fit the Mr. Moto or Charlie Chan series better but there's no question that this features an interesting story but sadly director William Beaudine can't add any life, energy or excitement to anything we're seeing. The story itself is pretty good and in fact it was interesting enough to make one upset that more wasn't being done with it. This story from Murray Leinster was originally filmed in 1920 and then again in 1930 but I've yet to see either version. The material here actually makes for a good mystery and I especially liked how one never fully understood why the murders were taking place. A great example of this is handled with various cards being left behind at crime scenes telling the cops who will die next. Another benefit this film has is that we're given a pretty strong cast. Farrell is once again highly entertaining and charming in her role. MacLane appears to be tired of his career and bored playing it because he pretty much sleepwalks through the film. The supporting cast is actually good with Tom Kennedy returning for comic relief and we also get Henry O'Neill, Patric Knowles and James Stephenson. What really kills the movie is the bad pacing, poor cinematography and the lack of any real energy. Director Beaudine probably kept the film under budget but he just wasn't able to add anything extra to the story. No matter how good the story is you still still someone to bring it to life and that just never happened.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
**SPOILERS** As you would expect fast talking and quick thinking news
reporter Torchy Blane, Glanda Ferrell, gets the jump on a gang of
Chinese jade thieves with just old fashion police work. Something that
her boyfriend police Let.Steve McBride seemed to be totally lacking of.
With the people involved in smuggling a bunch of valuable Chinese burial jades into the country on a secret hit-list, by persons who's families the jades belonged to, Let. McBride is put on the case to protect their lives and catch their potential murderers. McBride's attempt to keep the killers from doing their dirty work ends in disaster with two of those targeted Allan Fitzhugh, Anderson Lawler, and Dr. Mansfield, James Stephenson, ending up mysteriously murdered. In the case of the unfortunate Allan Fitzhugh he also-besides being gunned down- ends up losing his head over-the jade burial tablets-them.
**Caution Spoiler** Going to the city morgue to check out the circumstances of Fitzhugh death Torchy finds out, through his fingerprints, that he-or his headless corpse- isn't the person whom the police believe him to be. This murder mystery also gets a bit strange after Dr. Mansfield is later killed by smoking a spiked, by his killers, cigarette which poisons him. Before the meat-wagon, or morgue ambulance, arrives Dr. Mansfield's body mysteriously disappears from sight!
These double murder now leads to the real person whom the murderers, now turned extortionists, are really targeting Senator H. Baldwin, Henry O'Neill. It's Sen. Baldwin, who owns the worlds biggest Chinese jade collection, whom both the late Allan Fitzhugh and Dr. Mansfield as well as the still alive Capt. Condon, Patrick Knowles were working for in smuggling burial jades out of China.
The murdering blackmailers try to shake down Sen. Baldwin for a cool $250,000.00 by threatening to crash his daughter's Janet, Janet Shaw, wedding announcement reception, or even go so far as murdering her, at his Long Island estate. Janet's fiancée Dick Staunton, Richard Bond, agrees to pay the extortionists off by meeting them a his speedboat in the far end of New York Bay where they feel safe from the police an where the switch is to be made. It's then that Torchy goes into action in checkmating the extortionists plan. With the help of the US Navy and her boyfriend's, Steve McBride, bumbling assistant officer, and now promoted to Sergent, NYPD poet laureate Gahagan, Tom Kennedy, Torchy ends up getting the goods on the extortionists before they can get the goods, the $250,000.00 in extortion money, for themselves!
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.
Poor Torchy! Her boyfriend, Lieutenant Steve McBride, breaks their date
to go protect an art smuggler from a sinister gang. Steve sure doesn't
seem too sorryhe hardly even apologizes to Torchy. Of course, she
sneaks after him that night, hoping to catch a scoop for her
Barton McLane gets a big role this time aroundhis Lieutenant McBride is right at the center of the action. Unfortunately, the lieutenant has never been dumber. He tells the smuggler not to worry, that the police will protect himand the smuggler is promptly murdered. He tells the next threatened victim the same thingand that guy is murdered just as quickly. He's not protecting anybody!
Glenda Farrell is fine as always in her sixth appearance as adventurous reporter Torchy Blane. The cops do their best to keep her in the dark, but Torchy gets her leads and reports them without resisting a dig or two: the first murder, she writes, has left "investigating officers, headed by Detective Lt. Steve McBride, running around in circles so fast they're apt to meet themselves coming back."
The plot concerns some stolen jade "burial tablets" and a supposed Chinese gang out to retrieve them. Unfortunately, there's not enough humor or snappy by-play between charactersthe really appealing elements of the series' better entriesto keep this one moving. Tom Kennedy, back again as faithful but dim police chauffeur Gahagan, isn't given nearly enough to do, either.
It's a cast of pros and the production is competent, so the picture is certainly watchable. Farrell, especially, is never boring. However, the rather dreadful plot and an overall lack of zip place this one at the bottom of the list of Torchy Blane mysteries.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This is the seventh film in the Torchy Blane series (though one review
erroneously says it's the fifth) and it has an advantage over the
previous films. Here there are some excellent supporting actors that
previous movies in the series lacked. Henry O'Neill, James Stephenson
and Patric Knowles all are on hand in supporting roles.
The plot seems very much like one that you might have in a Charlie Chan or Mr. Moto film, though the film actually is a remake of MURDER WILL OUT (1930). It involves some rare jade tablets and threats that are supposedly from Chinese people who are angry that these priceless treasures were taken from the graves they adorned.
As usual in the last few films, Torchy and her police lieutenant boyfriend work against each other instead of together like they did in the first few films in order to solve the crimes. This is a shame, as this is pretty much the same pattern MOST B-detective films fell into during this era--with heroes such as the Falcon, Boston Blackie and the Lone Wolf doing their own investigations since the cops are morons.
By the way, with the one murder attempt involving cigarettes, this might be one of the silliest and most contrived bits I've seen in a film like this in a long time. The doctor begins choking and feeling ill when he starts smoking. Suddenly another person at the funeral grabs the cigarette from the doctor's mouth and announces "it has the sign of the golden dragon!!". And, it just so happens that the doctor has the antidote to the poison at his home! And, it just so happens that someone substituted the antidote with water! And, it just so happens that none of this makes any sense--especially when a bullet to the brain is a lot easier. It all was just too convenient and contrived to be believable.
Despite this being so contrived, the mystery itself turned out to be a pretty dandy one. In fact, the film would have earned a 7 had they not had this silly poisoning segment.
TORCHY BLANE IN CHINATOWN 1938
Barton Maclane, Glenda Farell. From the Torchy Blane series. Classic fast-talking good-guy police detective MacBride and his girl, Torchy (reporter). I have a love/hate relationship with this whole series (nine of them). This one was one of the better ones. A blackmail case.
But throughout the series Torchy, a pretty reporter, is constantly trying to snoop into ongoing police investigations, jeopardizing her own and other peoples' lives, not to mention stealing or tampering with evidence. She is always on the verge of getting arrested or rubbed out by the murderers or gang members. So she's irritating.
I'd rate the similar "Maisie" series (with Ann Sothern) higher.
I'm always drawn to 40s B movies about wisecracking investigators, but
some are better than others, and this one is definitely a lesser
example of the genre. Farrell's performance as brassy reporter Torchy
feels thin, and the detective lead detective is bland, although I
rather liked the odd romance between the two.
Tom Kennedy, on the other hand, was quite amusing as a doofus cop.
As for the story, well, it was really moronic. Of particular note was how terrible the lead cop was, constantly assuring people he would protect them and failing to do so, yet never losing confidence and, more amazingly, never getting in trouble. And no one ever said, "I don't trust you because you gave the same assurances to the last guy" (although ultimately you could make a case for why that ultimately makes sense).
I think that will be it for me and Torchy Blane movies.
This entertaining entry in the Torchy Blane series also happens to be one of the least PC movies of all time, and that's saying quite a bit. Every Asian stereotype you can imagine is dredged up by screenwriter George Bricker and there's even a minstrel show joke for good measure. When Barton Maclane exclaims, "Chinese!", Gloria Farrell responds, "oodles of them!". The story is the usual stuff about stolen jade, ancient curses, family honour, and murder. The twist is telegraphed early on but the film remains briskly entertaining, especially when that brassiest of brassy dames, Ms. Farrell, is on screen--which is most of the film's 58 minutes running time.
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