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Charlie Chan at the Circus (1936)

Approved | | Comedy, Crime, Mystery | 27 March 1936 (USA)
While visiting the circus with his family, Charlie is recruited by the big top's co-owner to investigate threatening letters that he's received.


Harry Lachman


Robert Ellis (original screen play), Helen Logan (original screen play) | 1 more credit »

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Complete credited cast:
Warner Oland ... Charlie Chan
Keye Luke ... Lee Chan
John McGuire ... Hal Blake
Shirley Deane ... Louise Norman
Francis Ford ... John Gaines
J. Carrol Naish ... Tom Holt
Paul Stanton ... Joe Kinney
Boothe Howard Boothe Howard ... Dan Farrell
Drue Leyton ... Nellie Farrell
Wade Boteler ... Police Lt. Macy
Shia Jung Shia Jung ... Su Toy
George Brasno George Brasno ... Tim
Olive Brasno Olive Brasno ... Tiny
Maxine Reiner ... Marie Norman
Franklyn Farnum ... Mike - Ticket Taker


Charlie receives fourteen free passes to the circus for him and his entire family but soon realizes that there are strings attached as the big top's co-owner asks his guest to investigate threatening letters that he's received. Before the famous detective can, the man is murdered. Charlie soon finds out that the co-owner was not a particularly pleasant or well-liked individual, and among the many suspects are his partner, a snake charmer and the menagerie's gorilla. Son Lee, usually an enthusiastic assistant for his father, is distracted by the show's beautiful contortionist. Written by duke1029

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


Approved | See all certifications »






Release Date:

27 March 1936 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Charlie Chan no Circo See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Twentieth Century Fox See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Noiseless Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


This film was first telecast in Detroit Monday 26 October 1953 on WXYZ (Channel 7), in New York City Wednesday 27 January 1954 on WCBS (Channel 2), in Los Angeles Saturday 21 August 1954 on KNBH (Channel 4), and in San Francisco Friday 1 July 1955 on KRON (Channel 4). See more »


Charlie turns on a gramophone to play some eastern music in order to 'charm' a snake on his bed, but snakes follow the movements of the snake-charmer rather than the rhythm of the music, and Charlie Chan remains still. See more »


Lt. Macy: [referring to Lee] Hello, Mr. Chan. You sure got a bright kid. He gave me a good steer.
Charlie Chan: Uh, sometimes suspect anxious offspring of giving bull.
See more »


Followed by Charlie Chan at the Race Track (1936) See more »

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User Reviews

Clue Like Photograph - Needs Time to Develop
14 September 2008 | by BaronBl00dSee all my reviews

Thoroughly entertaining and enjoyable Chan vehicle with the ever- adroit Warner Oland carrying off the Chan role this time in a circus venue. Charlie and his large family are out with a free pass enjoying the circus when(to use a cliché) death strikes under the big top. One of the partners and it seems a man virtually no ones likes dies from what appears to be by a rampaging fake -looking ape(sorry, this is even early for George Barrows!). Charlie must determine what could have taken place in this locked box car that might have a different explanation. Along the way we are treated to intriguing circus types - in particular two "midgets" wonderfully played by the brother/sister team of George and Olive Brasno. Some interesting red herrings are delivered as well as the light comedy touches that are customary with a good Chan film: pithy sayings laced with much wisdom, Charlie and his son Keye Luke's wonderful chemistry and humor, and Oland's general pleasant/pleasing portrayal of a man who has twelve children. Charlie Chan at the Circus isn't a great Chan film but it is a very good one and a fun one to be sure. Join the circus!

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