Movie star Sheila Fayne is seeing wealthy Alan Jaynes while filming in Honolulu, Hawaii, but won't marry him without consulting famed psychic Tanaverro first. Tanaverro confronts her about the unsolved murder of fellow film star Denny Mayo three years earlier, and she decides to reject Jaynes' proposal. When Sheila is found shot to death in her beach-front pavilion, Charlie Chan of the Honolulu Police investigates.Written by
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Let Charlie Chan Give Your Spine A Tingle.... He's back... and that means a thrill for you. Murder 'neath the South Sea moon...romance on the sands of Waikiki...mystery all about...with that "Dracula" gentleman giving you the creeps...one of those pictures that sends the shivers up your spine...it beats a chiropractic treatment and costs less! (Print Ad- Southeast Missourian, ((Cape Girardeau, Mo.)) 25 June 1931) See more »
Hollywood actress Shelah Fane (Dorothy Revier) is in Hawaii filming a new movie and she's also been asked by a man for her hand in marriage. Before she can commit she calls on her personal psychic Tarneverro (Bela Lugosi) for a reading. Not long afterwards the actress is found dead in her room and Inspector Charlie Chan (Warner Oland) is soon on the case, which contains a number of possible suspects.
This here was Oland's second time playing Chan but sadly the first film CHARLIE CHAN CARRIES ON is now lost. THE BLACK CAMEL is the earliest surviving film from Oland's series and it's also a terrific way for one to be introduced to the character, the actor and the series. This here is certainly a very good mystery that has some terrific lines, an excellent cast and of course the character of Chan is just so good that it's really hard to mess it up.
The film benefits from having a pretty good mystery. We're given a good amount of screen time to get to know the eventual victim and I think this makes the viewer have a stronger interest in finding out those guilty of her murder. The screenplay not only gives us the victim to like but we're also treated to a terrific amount of suspicious characters including the psychic, the man the victim turned down for marriage as well as others who might surround another mysterious death. The screenplay is at least written well enough to where you are kept guessing at who the killer might be right up to the conclusion.
These characters are brought to life thanks in large part to the wonderful performances with Oland clearly leading the way. Having come off playing Dr. FuManchu, you have to wonder why Oland wanted to jump into another Asian character but thankfully for film buffs he did. He's really terrific here and there's not a single second where you don't believe him as this character. Lugosi is also excellent in his supporting role and his chemistry with Oland makes you disappointed that they didn't team up in further outings. I also thought Revier was very good in her early scenes as were Sally Eilers and William Post, Jr.. Horror fans will also enjoy seeing Dwight Frye in a good supporting role.
THE BLACK CAMEL has some flaws including the incredibly annoying assistant Kashimo but this here doesn't take away too much of the film's charm. The terrific cast, strong characters and good mystery makes this film very much worth checking out.
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