7.1/10
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The Black Camel (1931)

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.

Director:

Hamilton MacFadden (uncredited)

Writers:

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

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
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Storyline

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

Taglines:

The unsolved secrets of Hollywood See more »


Certificate:

Passed | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

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

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono | Mono (Western Electric System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.20 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

This film's earliest documented telecast took place in Lebanon PA Thursday 3 December on WLBR(Channel 15); it first aired in Cincinnati Wednesday 23 December 1953 on WLW-T (Channel 5), in New York City Wednesday 13 January 1954 on WCBS (Channel 2), in Detroit Monday 25 January 1954 on WXYZ (Channel 7), in Phoenix Wednesday 10 March 1954 on KOOL (Channel 10), in Los Angeles Saturday 8 May 1954 on KNBH (Channel 4), in Columbus Saturday 21 August 1954 on WBNS (Channel 10), and in San Francisco Wednesday 13 April 1955 on KRON (Channel 4). See more »

Goofs

In the scene where Jimmy and Julie are getting out of the water after their swim you can hear singing. Julie explains that the group singing is from a local high school come to sing to Sheila. When the camera pans to the group, no one's lips are moving. See more »

Quotes

Charlie Chan: [when asked if he has a lie detector] Oh I see. You mean, a wife. I have one!
See more »

Connections

Followed by Charlie Chan in The Chinese Cat (1944) See more »

Soundtracks

Na Lei O Hawaii
(uncredited)
Written by Charles E. King
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Great movie, and a welcome rediscovery
3 September 2007 | by mgconlan-1See all my reviews

I'd seen this film before on a private-edition videotape and have now watched it again on the version in the Fox Charlie Chan, vol. 3 DVD boxed set. This is one of the greatest films in the Charlie Chan series with Warner Oland — of the later films that exist only "Charlie Chan at the Opera" (ironically with another horror icon, Boris Karloff, in its cast) matches it — thanks to Hamilton MacFadden's dark, atmospheric direction; a script that sticks closely to Earl Derr Biggers' source novel (except for omitting the long prologue on the ship that takes the principal characters to Hawai'i); superb art direction by Ben Carré and a marvelous cast, including Bela Lugosi playing an unusual range of emotions for him (the scene in which he confronts Dorothy Revier early on is especially impressive and not at all what we think of as Lugosi's usual acting style); a welcome reunion between him and his "Dracula" cast-mate Dwight Frye; Robert Young looking like he just graduated from high school as the suitor of Shelah Fane's personal assistant (Sally Eilers); and excellent cinematography by Joseph August and Daniel Clark, more prestigious cameramen than usually worked on the Chan films. It's nice to see Chan's family used the way they were in the Biggers novels (Biggers frequently wrote scenes in which the Chans sit down to dinner and Charlie brings them — and us — up to speed on the latest developments in his case), and another welcome touch in this film is the artful use of "source" Hawai'ian music in lieu of orchestral underscoring. While it's likely the Hawai'ian location trip only involved a second unit shooting backgrounds (there are some pretty obvious process shots here) and the Hawai'ian music could have just as easily been recorded in L.A. (where there was a large community of Hawai'ian musicians at the time), nonetheless "The Black Camel" is vividly atmospheric. Why Hamilton MacFadden didn't have much of a directorial career after the mid-1930's — and none at all after 1945 — is a mystery; judging by this film he would have been a "natural" for the noir genre.


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