7.6/10
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24 user 7 critic

Charlie Chan at the Wax Museum (1940)

Approved | | Comedy, Crime, Mystery | 6 September 1940 (USA)
An escaped convicted murderer hides out at a New York wax museum where he hopes to get plastic surgery, which will help him revenge himself on Charlie Chan.

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(original screen play) (as John Larkin), (based on the character created by: Charlie Chan)
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Certificate: Passed Comedy | Crime | Mystery
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Charlie tries to discover the identity of a strangler who strikes multiple times on a cruise ship bound from Honolulu to California.

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Inspector Chan investigates a group of travelers, one of whom is a saboteur.

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When Charlie's old friend from Scotland Yard is murdered when they attend a police convention in New York, Chan picks up the case he was working on.

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On the trail of a singer who killed the man she loved in Honolulu, Charlie finds her stabbed to death when he ultimately catches up to her in Rio.

Director: Harry Lachman
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Mary Whitman, an old friend of Charlie's in Reno for a divorce, finds herself accused of murdering the woman her husband planned to marry after the decree became final.

Director: Norman Foster
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While Charlie is distracted with the birth of his first grandchild, son Jimmy impersonates his father in order to investigate a murder aboard a freighter in the harbor.

Director: H. Bruce Humberstone
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When a strategically important new aerial guidance system is stolen, Charlie traces it to the Berlin Olympics, where he has to battle spies and enemy agents to retrieve it.

Director: H. Bruce Humberstone
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Charlie Chan investigates apparent poisonings at a mystery mansion in the Mojave Desert.

Director: Harry Lachman
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Charlie's investigation of a phony psychic during the 1939 World Exposition on San Francisco's Treasure Island leads him to expose a suicide as murder.

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While visiting the circus with his family, Charlie is recruited by the big top's co-owner to investigate threatening letters that he's received.

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A treasure map in four pieces, the ghost of a hanged pirate, a talking parrot, and a ship full of red herrings complicate Charlie's search for a murderer on board a docked ship.

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Stars: Sidney Toler, Sheila Ryan, Robert Weldon
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A dangerous amnesiac escapes from an asylum, hides in the opera house, and is suspected of getting revenge on those who tried to murder him 13 years ago.

Director: H. Bruce Humberstone
Stars: Warner Oland, Boris Karloff, Keye Luke
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Cast

Complete credited cast:
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Jimmy Chan (as Sen Yung)
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Lily Latimer
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Mary Bolton
Ted Osborne ...
Tom Agnew (as Ted Osborn)
Michael Visaroff ...
Dr. Otto Von Brom
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Mrs. Rocke
Charles Wagenheim ...
Willie Fern
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Carter Lane
Eddie Marr ...
Grenock (as Edward Marr)
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Inspector O'Matthews
...
Edwards
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Storyline

A wax museum run by a demented doctor contains statues of such crime figures as Jack the Ripper and Bluebeard. In addition to making wax statues the doctor performs plastic surgery. It is here that an arch fiend takes refuge. The museum also houses a statue of Charlie. Frustrated number-two son kicks statue in rear; oops, number-two son wrong in his assumption. Written by Ed Stephan <stephan@cc.wwu.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

A chamber of horrors becomes a murder hideout! See more »


Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »
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Details

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Language:

Release Date:

6 September 1940 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Charlie Chan en el museo de cera  »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(RCA High Fidelity Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The wax head near the mummy case appears to be modeled after Clark Gable. See more »

Goofs

When Inspector Matthews comes in through the museum window, his coat is wet from the thunderstorm outside. Seconds thereafter, although his face still has rain dripping from it, his coat is now dry. See more »

Quotes

Inspector O'Matthews: I think I'll catch your act tonight, Charlie. In fact, I'll go with you.
Charlie Chan: No, please. Mice only play when cat supposed to be in bed.
See more »

Connections

Followed by Shadows Over Chinatown (1946) See more »

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User Reviews

Silly Plot But Atmospheric
20 February 2010 | by (Dallas, Texas) – See all my reviews

Chan (Sidney Toler) investigates mysterious goings-on at "Dr. Cream's Museum Of Crime", which houses wax dummies of famous crime figures. The story puzzle features a murderer whose face has been changed as a result of surgery. Such a silly plot devise is a tad cheap, in that it provides the director an easy way to disguise the killer's current identity.

While Chan is inside the eerie museum, at least one murder occurs. And there are roughly nine suspects, a bit much for a film with a 63 minute runtime. Still, the suspect pool provides some interestingly diverse characters.

In trying to identify the killer, I guessed wrong. There's really not much to go on in terms of clues. However, some suspicious behavior and a line of dialogue offers a couple of vague hints.

A mostly nighttime setting, great B&W lighting, a pronounced echo, and lightning and thunder contribute enormously to the spooky atmosphere.

If I could have changed anything it would have been to reduce the number of suspects to six or seven and to focus a little more on their personalities and backgrounds. Also, I would have deleted Jimmy Chan, inserted apparently for comic relief, who is generally just annoying.

An average film in the Charlie Chan series, "The Wax Museum", despite the silly plot devise and too many suspects, is enjoyable for its spooky atmosphere and for a story puzzle that's not easy to figure out.


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