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Famous detective Charlie Chan is called out of retirement to help a San Francisco detective solve a mysterious series of murders. With his bumbling grandson as his sidekick, Chan also encounters an old nemesis known as the Dragon Queen who is the prime suspect. Written by
Charlie Chan And The Curse Of The Dragon Queen (Clive Donner, 1981) *1/2
Abysmal would-be spoof of the well-loved series of films featuring the Oriental detective, possibly made in the wake of (and a very long way from) the runaway box-office success of Neil Simon's MURDER BY DEATH (1976). The few bright moments provided by Chan's old flame Lee Grant and befuddled cop Brian Keith are completely sunk by the fatal miscasting of Peter Ustinov (who is truly terrible here and should have stuck to portraying Hercule Poirot), the painfully unfunny antics of his accident-prone son Richard Hatch and the absurd histrionics of Grant's faithful maid Rachel Roberts. The cast also features Angie Dickinson (underused as the Dragon Queen of the title), Roddy McDowall (as a wheelchair-bound and vaguely sinister butler), Michelle Pfeiffer as Hatch's fiancée and Johnny Sekka. Ironically, the film's story writer/producer Jerry Sherlock currently runs the Hollywood branch of The New York Film Academy; thankfully, I hadn't watched this mess before I embarked on their eight-week film-making program late last year! Besides, I suppose the fact that director Clive Donner had previously helmed the uncontrollable WHAT'S NEW PUSSYCAT? (1965) should have been fair warning against this one...
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