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City in Darkness (1939)

Approved  |   |  Drama, Mystery, Thriller  |  1 December 1939 (USA)
7.3
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Ratings: 7.3/10 from 846 users  
Reviews: 20 user | 9 critic

While in Paris for a reunion on the eve of World War II, Charlie finds that the murder of an hated businessman leads him to a conspiracy to smuggle arms to Germany.

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(screen play), (screen play), 3 more credits »
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
Lynn Bari ...
Richard Clarke ...
Tony Madero (as Richard Clark)
Harold Huber ...
Marcel
Pedro de Cordoba ...
Antoine (as Pedro De Cordoba)
Dorothy Tree ...
Charlotte Ronnell
C. Henry Gordon ...
Prefect of Police J. Romaine
...
Petroff (as Douglas Dumbrille)
Noel Madison ...
Belescu
...
Louis Santelle (as Leo Carroll)
...
Pierre
Louis Mercier ...
Max
George Davis ...
Alex
Barbara Leonard ...
Lola
Adrienne D'Ambricourt ...
Landlady
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Storyline

Chan goes to Paris for a reunion with friends from World War I. There he investigates the murder of a munitions manufacturer who was supplying arms to the enemy. At the end Charlie preaches to us about the dangers of peace conferences. Written by Ed Stephan <stephan@cc.wwu.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

PARIS! BLACKOUT!...but there's no blackout for crime...and the great detective is commandeered!


Certificate:

Approved
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

1 December 1939 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Charlie Chan na Cidade das Trevas  »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(RCA High Fidelity Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The twenty-third of forty-seven Charlie Chan movies. See more »

Goofs

When Harold Huber is thrown from the raised doorway of the hotel steps by the bouncer, the mattress on the cobblestones can be seen in the shot. See more »

Quotes

[last lines]
Charlie Chan: [referring to the Munich conference] A wise man once said, "Beware of spider who invites fly into parlor."
See more »

Connections

Followed by The Return of Charlie Chan (1973) See more »

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User Reviews

 
Decent mystery with timely setting but underdone plot and script
25 July 2012 | by (Minnesota) – See all my reviews

The "City in Darkness" is Paris, where Charlie Chan and a group of colleagues from the last Great War are gathered for a reunion on the eve of the next one. As the picture opens, a newsreel-style sequence presents a fascinating and frightening summary of European events of 1938—as they appeared from the vantage point of early 1939.

In this setting, with war imminent and preparations mounting, the nighttime blackout in effect occasionally helps the story along—such as the scene in which Mr. Chan, captured and tied up in a shop's back room, manages to surreptitiously switch on an outside light, knowing the police will come and pound on the shop door and thus rescue him.

The plot itself concerns the murder of a shady character named Petroff—and the usual number of suspects who may have had reasons (personal or political) for doing away with him. There's a shop owner (Leo G. Carroll) who makes and sells fake passports on the side; a young couple (Richard Clarke and Lynn Bari) trying to catch the last boat for America for six days; a "business associate" (Noel Madison) of Petroff's who slides in and out of the picture; and butler and patriot Antoine (Pedro de Cordoba).

C. Henry Gordon is a natural as the prefect of police, the old friend Chan has come to visit. Sidney Toler is solid if rather subdued as Mr. Chan. Instead of assistance from number two son, however, this time around Chan has to deal with…

Harold Huber as a bumbling inspector who hopes to solve this case to impress the prefect. His accent is thick, his gestures are exaggerated, and whenever he is on screen he interrupts loudly, whoever else may be speaking. It's a comic role—but, for my taste at least, it's a bit too much. I'm all for broad humor but in this case it only partially works and it distracts from an otherwise rather serious movie.

It's certainly an interesting setting…but overall I'm not sure they didn't concentrate too much on the picture's timeliness and neglect to polish the dialog and plot.


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