IMDb > City in Darkness (1939)
City in Darkness
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City in Darkness (1939) More at IMDbPro »


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7.3/10   861 votes »
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Up 12% in popularity this week. See why on IMDbPro.
Robert Ellis (screen play) and
Helen Logan (screen play) ...
View company contact information for City in Darkness on IMDbPro.
Release Date:
1 December 1939 (USA) See more »
PARIS! BLACKOUT!...but there's no blackout for crime...and the great detective is commandeered!
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. Full summary » | Add synopsis »
(2 articles)
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 (From Obsessed with Film. 13 November 2013, 1:43 AM, PST)

User Reviews:
Pre-war Paris as setting for weak spy melodrama See more (20 total) »


  (in credits order) (verified as complete)

Sidney Toler ... Charlie Chan
Lynn Bari ... Marie Dubon
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

Douglass Dumbrille ... Petroff (as Douglas Dumbrille)
Noel Madison ... Belescu

Leo G. Carroll ... Louis Santelle (as Leo Carroll)

Lon Chaney Jr. ... Pierre
Louis Mercier ... Max
George Davis ... Alex
Barbara Leonard ... Lola
Adrienne D'Ambricourt ... Landlady
Frederick Vogeding ... Captain (as Fredrik Vogeding)
rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Eugene Borden ... Gendarme (uncredited)
André Cheron ... Man wearing a robe in the hallway (uncredited)
Ann Codee ... Complainant at Police (uncredited)
Albert Conti ... Travel Agency Manager (uncredited)

Gino Corrado ... Proprietor of Wine Cellar (uncredited)
Jean De Briac ... Puppeteer (uncredited)
Jean Del Val ... French Cabby (uncredited)
Fred Farrell ... Minor Role (uncredited)
Harry Fleischmann ... Baptiste (uncredited)
Constant Franke ... Officer (uncredited)
Arno Frey ... Pilot (uncredited)
John George ... Victor - Notorious Patron of Gangland Bistro (uncredited)
Helen Giere ... Minor Role (uncredited)
Paul Irving ... Doctor (uncredited)
Jeanne Lafayette ... French Girl (uncredited)
Michael Mark ... Mechanic (uncredited)
Alphonse Martell ... Gendarme (uncredited)
Alberto Morin ... Clerk (uncredited)
Nita Pike ... Telephone Operator (uncredited)
Albert Pollet ... Cabby (uncredited)
Frank Puglia ... Gendarme at Steamship Office (uncredited)
Joseph Romantini ... Gendarme (uncredited)
Rolfe Sedan ... Hotel Clerk (uncredited)
Tom Seidel ... Phillip (uncredited)
Lester Sharpe ... Market Man (uncredited)
George Sorel ... Plainclothesman (uncredited)
Larry Steers ... Man Leaving Paris (uncredited)
Jacques Vanaire ... Gendarme (uncredited)
Veola Vonn ... French Girl (uncredited)
Poppy Wilde ... One of Petroff's Girlfriends (uncredited)
Marek Windheim ... Cabby (uncredited)

Directed by
Herbert I. Leeds 
Writing credits
Robert Ellis (screen play) and
Helen Logan (screen play)

Gina Kaus (based on a play by) and
Ladislas Fodor (based on a play by) (as Ladislaus Fodor)

Earl Derr Biggers (based on: the character "Charlie Chan" created by)

Produced by
John Stone .... associate producer
Cinematography by
Virgil Miller (director of photography)
Film Editing by
Harry Reynolds (film editor)
Art Direction by
Lewis H. Creber  (as Lewis Creber)
Richard Day 
Set Decoration by
Thomas Little (set decorations)
Costume Design by
Herschel McCoy (costumes) (as Herschel)
Sound Department
Joseph E. Aiken .... sound
William H. Anderson .... sound
Costume and Wardrobe Department
Sam Benson .... wardrobe supervisor (uncredited)
Music Department
Samuel Kaylin .... musical director
Crew believed to be complete

Production CompaniesDistributors

Additional Details

Also Known As:
75 min
Aspect Ratio:
1.37 : 1 See more »
Sound Mix:
Mono (RCA High Fidelity Recording)
USA:Approved (PCA #5531)

Did You Know?

The twenty-third of forty-seven Charlie Chan movies.See more »
Revealing mistakes: 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 »
[last lines]
Charlie Chan:[referring to the Munich conference] A wise man once said, "Beware of spider who invites fly into parlor."
See more »
Movie Connections:
Referenced in "Jeopardy!: Episode #27.32" (2010)See more »


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11 out of 17 people found the following review useful.
Pre-war Paris as setting for weak spy melodrama, 3 June 2002
Author: Jim Tritten from Corrales, NM

Maybe it was the play that forms the basis of this tale, maybe the return to previous screenwriters, or a new director, or whatever…but this is one of the weakest Sidney Toler Chan films done at 20th Century Fox. Not much of a mystery – more a propaganda film about the coming war and the need to beware of traitors who would sell and ship arms to the enemy and who need clearance papers that disguise munitions as fruit.

One of the few films without one of his offspring (he admits to having 5 sons here). Chan plays instead off Marcel, secretary and godson to the Paris Chief of Police. Audiences were probably being conditioned to regard the French as future allies; hence Marcel explains that he is really the son of the Bucharest Chief of Police – thus maligning Romania instead. Harold Huber has done a much more subtle and effective job at comedy in the Chan series. Pedro de Cordoba does splendidly as a dignified gentleman's gentleman Antoine and WWI veteran who sees his son off to the next conflict. AMC gives second billing in this film to Lon Chaney, Jr., but in reality his is a bit part preceding his more memorable appearance in `Of Mice and Men' the same year. He must have needed the work.

There are enough clues, misdirections, and suspects to keep the outcome up in the air but we are not made to really care. The murdered man deserved to be murdered and who did it matters little. There are sufficient clues for an observant viewer to arrive at the solution along with Chan.

Not one of the better or even good Chan films. See this only to round out the series. As Chan said in this film: `To describe bitter medicine will not improve its flavor.'

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