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The Black Camel (1931)

Passed | | Crime, Mystery, Thriller | 21 June 1931 (USA)
The unsolved murder of a Hollywood actor several years earlier and an enigmatic psychic are the keys to help Charlie solve the Honolulu stabbing death of a beautiful actress.


Hamilton MacFadden (uncredited)


Earl Derr Biggers (novel), Hugh Stanislaus Stange (adaptation) (as Hugh Stange) | 4 more credits »


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Complete credited cast:
Warner Oland ... Inspector Charlie Chan
Sally Eilers ... Julie O'Neil
Bela Lugosi ... Tarneverro
Dorothy Revier ... Shelah Fane
Victor Varconi ... Robert Fyfe
Murray Kinnell ... Archie Smith
William Post Jr. ... Alan Jaynes
Robert Young ... Jimmy Bradshaw
Violet Dunn Violet Dunn ... Anna
J.M. Kerrigan ... Thomas MacMasters
Mary Gordon ... Mrs. MacMasters
Rita Rozelle Rita Rozelle ... Luana
Otto Yamaoka ... Kashimo


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 Sister Grimm <srgrimm@teleport.com>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


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 »


Passed | See all certifications »






Release Date:

21 June 1931 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Charlie Chan in the Black Camel See more »

Filming Locations:

Honolulu, O'ahu, Hawaii, USA See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Fox Film Corporation See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.20 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


The fifth of 47 Charlie Chan movies starring Warner Oland and others. See more »


When Shelah talks to the director, her hands jump on and off her hat between shots. See more »


Rita Ballou: If I were a dose of poison, I'd give myself to you.
Charlie Chan: Thank you so much.
See more »


Followed by The Shanghai Cobra (1945) See more »


Aloha Oe
Written by Queen Liliuokalani
See more »

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User Reviews

Oland and Lugosi Are Grand Together
23 March 2015 | by Michael_ElliottSee all my reviews

The Black Camel (1931)

*** (out of 4)

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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