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Charlie Chan in The Chinese Cat (1944)

 -  Comedy | Crime | Mystery  -  20 May 1944 (USA)
7.2
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Ratings: 7.2/10 from 929 users  
Reviews: 25 user | 6 critic

Charlie Chan investigates the locked-room murder of a chess expert.

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(original screenplay), (character)
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Cast

Complete credited cast:
...
...
Leah Manning
Mantan Moreland ...
Benson Fong ...
Ian Keith ...
Dr. Paul Recknik
Sam Flint ...
Thomas P. Manning
Cy Kendall ...
George Webster Deacon
Weldon Heyburn ...
Detective Lt. Harvey Dennis
...
Catlen
John Davidson ...
Carl Karzoff / Kurt Karzoff
Dewey Robinson ...
Salos
...
Gannet (as Stan Jolley)
...
Mrs. Manning
Jack Norton ...
Hotel Desk Clerk
Luke Chan ...
Wu Song
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Storyline

Thomas P. Manning, businessman and chess expert mysteriously shot in a locked room, dies clutching some chess pieces. Police are baffled, and finally abandon the case. Six months later, victim's daughter Leah Manning, stung by a scurrilous book about the case, enlists the aid of Charlie Chan and Number 3 Son. Additional murders follow, leading to a climactic confrontation in a seemingly deserted "Fun House." Written by Rod Crawford <puffinus@u.washington.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

chess | murder | locked room | book | victim | See more »

Taglines:

"MUST CONFESS. HONORABLE SON...This Is My Most Baffling Case!"


Certificate:

Approved
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

20 May 1944 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Murder in the Fun House  »

Box Office

Budget:

$75,000 (estimated)
 »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Mirrophonic Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The thirty-second of forty-seven Charlie Chan movies. See more »

Goofs

The character played by Cy Kendall is identified as Webster Deacon in dialogue, but George Deacon in a newspaper insert. See more »

Quotes

Birmingham Brown, Taxi Driver: Thank you for lettin' me share your private graveyard.
See more »

Connections

Follows Charlie Chan in Honolulu (1938) See more »

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User Reviews

 
Among the Best of the Monogram Chan Films--But That's Not Saying Much
10 June 2007 | by (Biloxi, Mississippi) – See all my reviews

Loosely based on novels by Earl Derr Biggers, 20th Century Fox's Charlie Chan series proved an audience favorite--but when Japan attacked Pearl Harbor the studio feared audiences would turn against its Asian hero. This was a miscalculation: actor Sidney Toler took the role to "poverty row" Monogram Studios, where he continued to portray the character in eleven more popular films made between 1944 and his death in 1947.

20th Century Fox had regarded the Chan films as inexpensive "B" movies, but even so the studio took considerable care with them: the plots were often silly, but the pace was sharp, the dialogue witty, and the casts (which featured the likes of Bela Lugosi and Ray Milland) always expert. The result was a kindly charm which has stood the test of time. Monogram was a different matter: Chan films were "B" movies plain and simple. Little care was taken with scripts or cast and resulting films were flat, mediocre at best, virtually unwatchable at worst.

Released in 1944, THE Chinese CAT finds Chan beset by son Tommy, who has promised the step-daughter of a murdered man assistance; they are joined in the investigation by cab driver Birmigham, who is not overeager to be reunited with the Chans given that murder tends to follow in their wake. Indeed, there will be three murders, stolen jewels, and a carnival fun house before the killers are captured. Like all the Monogram Chan films, the plot is trivial and the script even more so; unlike the worst of the Monogram Chan films, however, it does have the occasional touch of atmosphere and moves at a respectable pace.

Sidney Toler gives a nice reprise of Charlie Chan in this film, but as usual in the Monogram Chan films Mantan Moreland (Birmingham) is the real scene stealer. Changing times have led us to look upon Moreland's brand of comedy as demeaning to African-Americans, but he was an expert actor and comic, and taken within the context of what was possible for a black actor in the 1940s his work has tremendous charm and innocence.

Fans of the 20th Century Fox series are likely to find Monogram's Chan a significant disappointment and newcomers who like the Monogram films will probably consider them third-rate after encountering the Fox films. Like other Monogram Chan films, MEETING AT MIDNIGHT is best left to determined collectors. Three stars, and that's being generous.

GFT, Amazon Reviewer


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