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10 out of 11 people found the following review useful:

Excellent early alternate Charlie Chan

9/10
Author: dbborroughs from Glen Cove, New York
15 January 2006

One of the few Chan movies to actually be based on one of the original novels this is essentially the start of the series of movies that many people know and love so well. The story was later shortened and reused as Charlie Chan's Murder Cruise. This was shot at the same time as an alternate Spanish version of the now lost Charlie Chan Carries On, and is an excellent take on the great detective.

The plot begins in London where a friend of Chan's, an Inspector Duff, is called in to investigate the murder of one of a travel group touring the world. It transpires that one of the group is not who they say they are and is out for revenge of a past wrong. Two more murders follow as the group continues the tour, but still there is no sign of the killer. When events in China put another member of the party in danger, Duff is forced to act and he races to Hawaii to see his old friend Charlie Chan to ask his help with the case before the party leaves. While visiting Chan in his office Duff is shot down. Chan feeling an obligation to his fallen friend tells the medics who rush Duff to the hospital to tell his friend that "Charlie Chan carries on". Chan joins the party as they board a ship for San Fransisco, vowing to either solve the murder by the time they arrive or retire if he hasn't. (The appearance of Chan is half way into the movie, and its the point at which Murder Cruise begins).

This is a really good little movie and its understandable why a series sprang from it. Even though Chan doesn't show up for a good while into the proceeding, he hangs over the film since Duff is constantly quoting things that his friend Chan might say. The mystery is tightly plotted and keeps you on the edge of your seat. Its so well done that I didn't mind not seeing Chan in action and found myself actually wishing for a series of films with Inspector Duff of Scotland Yard.

Manuel Arbó is a great Chan. A very physical actor he moves and does things that Warner Oland , and the other actor's playing Chan rarely did, he got on his knees to detect, rifles through drawers and actually does hands on investigating. Chan is also a very clearly two men. Outwardly he is the quiet font of Chinese wisdom that most people feel they can under estimate. Inwardly and when he is in the hunt he is a man of action who knows what has to be done and how to do it. Watch how he searches a room, or in the final reel sets the trap for the killer. He moves in a way that none of the other Chans ever did. He is not just a man of words, but a man of action who is very clearly in control of what is going on. Arbo is made to look physically like Oland, no doubt to use shots from the other version, however there is something more commanding about his presence. You are very aware of his presence in a scene, even when he is on the out skirts of it. I would love to have seen how the series would have played out had Arbo been allowed to play the detective. (Perhaps what makes this film so great is that it doesn't follow the the pattern of the series).

This is a movie to search out. If you can find it somewhere by all means do see it. There is an English subtitled version floating around if you don't speak Spanish (This may carry the English translation of the title They Were Thirteen). Even if you are not a Charlie Chan fan this is just a really good mystery. This is the sort of thing that people don't make any more, it feels like a movie you'll want to curl up with on a dark a stormy night.

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9 out of 12 people found the following review useful:

Worth seeing as a curiosity piece, but that's about the only reason.

5/10
Author: bensonmum2 from Tennessee
26 June 2006

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

As a curiosity piece for fans of Charlie Chan, Eran Trece is rather interesting as it represents a peak at the lost film Charlie Chan Carries On. It gets bonus points from me for that fact alone. But without that connection and bit of trivia, Eran Trece is a weak film. My problems with the movie do not include most of the actors or technical aspects. Here, the film is comparable to any other Charlie Chan film. Instead, my problems with the movie rest with Chan's lack of involvement in most of the movie and the actor playing Chan. Chan only shows up in the final third of the film. And he doesn't really do much other than make a few wild guesses about the killer's identity. Chan seemed to be as in the dark as I as to who the killer was until he gave himself away. And Manuel Arbo's Chan leaves a lot to be desired. Instead of the intellectual, thinking detective, Arbo plays Chan as more of a fool who would rather wrestle over a clue than logically think things out. Maybe I'm just comfortable with Oland and Toler as Chan. But I sincerely think it's more than that. Arbo, with his lack of screen presence and overly animated acting style, isn't very good.

Even with the film's shortcomings, I'm glad I finally had the opportunity to see this film. I also appreciate Fox for putting Eran Trece on their new Charlie Chan Collection. Unfortunately, however, I doubt I'll be watching it very often.

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11 out of 16 people found the following review useful:

Arbo Okay But Films Needed More Of Charlie

4/10
Author: ccthemovieman-1 from United States
27 June 2006

This Spanish version of the 1931 Charlie Chan film, "Charlie Chan Carries On" was fair to poor.....closer to poor because Charlie didn't show up in the film until it was over half over. I've never seen that in any of the English-speaking Chan films. He's always front-and-center.

This movie wasn't horrible but it was boring for several fairly-long stretches. It just isn't the same without Chan, and he's only in on screen in about 33 percent of the movie.

I had no trouble with Manuel Arbo's "take" on Chan. He's a little more subdued than Warner Oland or Sidney Toler but very comparable. His proverbs were fun and profound, as always. He was fine. The rest of the cast was so-so and a bit dated and silly with romance angles, gangster angles and an assortment of characters all of whom look guilty, of course.

As he did in some other episodes, Chan traps the murderer in the end with a clever scheme. The subtitles were easy to read but, as one reviewer said, this is more of a curiosity piece than anything else. It's for very, very hard-line Chan fans only. This was a bit boring even for me, and I love Charlie Chan films.

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7 out of 9 people found the following review useful:

A decent film with a different Chan

7/10
Author: the_mysteriousx
27 August 2001

This is the very rare Spanish language version of the lost original Charlie Chan film, "Charlie Chan Carries On". I believe that there is not a version that has English subtitles as I viewed the film with the help of a detailed synopsis I found in Cult Movies magazine #27.

The film has entirely different actors and a different crew from the American film, which was shot 7 months earlier. In fact, it was released after "The Black Camel" came out - the 2nd Warner Oland Chan film.

Eran Trece is an interesting film, though. It is particularly interesting to watch Manuel Arbo portray Chan in a very impish way, more physical than Oland or Toler. He moves around quite a bit in his limited screen time (Chan appears half way through the movie). He is very charming in his own original way and his tone is also warm. It's worth noting that at this time detectives in films were hard-boiled and/or intellectual and Chan, even in this early form stands out as very polite, and hard-working. Arbo gives a different take than Oland, but he is still very much Chan throughout.

As for the plot, it is complicated and without subtitles very difficult to follow the details. I was grateful to have the long synopsis, but if anyone is interested they should read the novel "Charlie Chan Carries On" by Earl Derr Biggers, or watch the remake with Sidney Toler, "Charlie Chan's Murder Cruise". All in all, Eran Trece is a worthy Chan film.

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4 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

A rare chance to see an early Charlie Chan film--and well worth finding

7/10
Author: planktonrules from Bradenton, Florida
20 May 2008

This is a gem for film historians. Almost all the early Charlie Chan films are lost--the silent ones and even several sound ones. This is one of the earliest known Chan film, though it's a Spanish language version using the same sets yet an alternate cast. That's because in the early days of talkies, Hollywood studios often filmed several alternate language versions of the same film instead of dubbing the films or using captions. Most had entirely different casts that filmed at night when the American cast went home to bed. In a few odd cases, such as with Laurel and Hardy, the stars appeared in multiple versions of their films--learning lines phonetically in German, Spanish, Italian or French. As for the Chan films, this is the only one done in multiple versions and this is a blessing as the original version starring Warner Oland is lost.

In this case, Manuel Arbó stars as the intrepid detective. While Oland was a Swedish-American and didn't exactly look or act authentically Chinese, Arbó looked and sounded even less like a Chinese-American than Oland. Also, oddly, Chan doesn't even appear until about half way through the film--something that also apparently occurred in other earlier Chan films. Instead, a murder mystery is being competently investigated and Chan only enters the scene once the trail has gone completely cold.

While this is an odd entrance for Chan compared to the later style of the series and Manuel Arbó isn't the greatest Chan, the script is definitely a winner. In fact, it compares very well to the rest of the Fox series and is better than most. This really, really makes me hope that someday they'll unearth the Oland version ("Charlie Chan Carries On")--and fortunately, in recent years, many supposedly lost films have been uncovered.

By the way, this film was included as an extra in Volume 1 of the Charlie Chan collection which was released by Fox in 2006.

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2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

Man with substitute film better than man with no film at all

7/10
Author: Gary170459 from Derby, UK
26 January 2013

I've held out for a long time not seeing this in the hope that the original Warner Oland version would be unearthed somewhere … no such luck, as yet! So is this surviving simultaneous Spanish language version any good then? Well, it's OK in it's own right, a bit stagey but I still missed Oland in what would have been his first Chan effort. Films 3-5 also remain lost.

A man on a world tour with a group of shifty fellow travellers with fishy attitudes is murdered in a hotel room in London, and of course Scotland Yard hasn't got an answer to all of the clues presented. Two murders later and 41 minutes in we all get to Honolulu where Charlie Chan carries on where his British Inspector friend was forced to leave off. Manuel Arbo was passable as Charlie, with plenty of killer aphorisms up his sleeve – "Man not fool until he does something foolish" – but he appeared very melodramatic and I wearied a bit of his grimacing. The rest of the suspects, er cast were intense stereotypes – unwary people might wonder at the simplicity of it all, but isn't everybody and everything on the planet a stereotype? It followed the usual rules, so if you know your Charlie Chan format you can whittle the suspects down to a final two or three, or one if you're lucky. Charlie, as he did many times later cheated by applying subterfuge over deductive reasoning in his unmasking of the dastard but I could see that coming as well.

Overall well worth it to a Chan completist, OK for Golden Age aficionados, so I enjoyed it on both levels but I did warn you if you hate either genre.

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3 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

"They Were Thirteen" Is a Top Charlie Chan!

9/10
Author: JohnHowardReid
14 July 2008

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Although the script (following the novel) prescribes a late entrance, Manuel Arbo creates a fascinatingly animated Charlie Chan, quite different from the traditional rather stiff interpretations from Warner Oland and Sidney Toler. Arbo (who had important roles in over 200 movies) is an active Charlie Chan, who doesn't just stand around delivering aphorisms (although there are some wonderful examples in this movie), but he moves! The rest of the players, led by Rafael Calvo, are likewise both interesting and entertaining, although I'd like to draw special attention to the lovely Lia Tora who has only the one scene—but what an impression she makes! Despite a fair amount of dialogue, director David Howard stages the movie most competently and handles the limited amount of action with flair. As for the mystery itself, it's fair to say that the identity of the killer comes as a considerable surprise!

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

A different look for Charley.

9/10
Author: juanasept from United States
20 May 2014

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Found this Spanish version, Eran Trece, with English subtitles. It was fun to watch reading what was going on. The Spain born Manuel Arbo plays Charley Chan. His character comes into view and see a younger looking Chan. He was fun hear give out his Chinese proverbs.

The rest of the cast is fun too, there's even a three song act. I give this a 9 because of the subtitles. And the cast resembles the usual faces of the time, 1931.

I don't recall having watch any of the Chan movies from so early. Maybe late 30's and later. Another good one from the series, for Latin speaker.

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

Wife is Japanese!!!

6/10
Author: svatoid-1 from United States
9 September 2007

I just watched this film on DVD--it is in the new Charlie Chan box set on the disc with CC in Shanghai. It has English subtitles also. There is a scene where Charlie Chan is getting ready to board the boat to San Francisco. His wife and son are seeing him off at the dock. His wife speaks with to him in Japanese and at the end says "sayonara" to him (he answers in Spanish, of course. I guess back then they assumed that people would not know the difference between Japanese and Chinese!! By the way, another disc in the set, The Black Camel has a reading from the script of Charlie Chan's Chance, using still photos as a background. It is the complete script and since this is another lost Chan film, this might be the only was to see it

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2 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

Duff and Chan: two good detectives

7/10
Author: skoyles from Calgary AB Canada
6 February 2007

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I enjoyed this movie! And that was a surprise since I had been ill and in a fair amount of pain when I saw it. Thinking that if it did not appeal I would go to bed, I watched the whole thing and rather resented the telephone interruption. What impressed me first was the character Inspector Duff of Scotland yard. He is caring, dedicated and humble. He relates well with his inferiors and is forever quoting Charlie Chan. Duff begins to investigate the mystery and all too soon is shot -- in Chan's office of all places. I was genuinely sorry to have him apparently bumped off. Next to impress: Charlie Chan. Manuel Arbo's Chan is most winning: intelligent, humble, loyal and somewhat more energetic than expected. He reminded me of Peter Falk's Columbo in many ways. The "mystery" isn't really but that does not matter; it is a good little Charlie Chan adventure. Two things did take a bit for me to overcome: 1) hearing the whole thing in Spanish was jarring at first but it was a pleasant way to learn a bit more of that language; and 2) I *think* the Chan family photograph features Warner Oland! All in all worth watching and enjoying.

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