Charlie Chan in Honolulu (1938) Poster

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8/10
Most Enjoyable Charlie Chan
ccthemovieman-128 October 2005
This has to be the wildest of the Charlie Chan movies I've seen. It was Sidney Toler's first effort in the lead role, replacing Warner Oland, and it featured more comedy than any other Chan film to that point.

In this film, Chan and his number two son Tommy, his number five son Charlie Jr., and others including a doctor who keeps a live brain in his suitcase, all provide laughs. Along the way is a funny-faced lunatic animal keeper and a lion on the loose. They provide a lot of laughs.

As far as suspects go, there is a strange psychiatrist (the one with the portable brain), two pretty women, two ship's captains, a guy disguised as a cop and his suspect. I told you it was wild. It's too difficult to figure out "whodunnit," so you just sit back and enjoy the wild action and humor.

Yeah, it's silly.....but it''s tremendously enjoyable.
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7/10
Chan clan reshuffled
Jim Tritten21 May 2002
Sidney Toler makes his debut as Lieutenant Charlie Chan in this who-done-it mystery where the writer actually plants sufficient clues that the alert viewer might be able to ascertain the guilty party before all is revealed at the end. Bravo - the Warner Oland Chan movies rarely offer such a treat. Toler plays a more animated Chan than did Oland - most fans have their preference. This Chan moves fast and points out more clues along the way.

The Toler series opens with a Chan family gathering and an impending birth of his first grandchild. Chan admits to having a total of 13 children of which 10 are sons. Son Lee's absence is explained as being in art school in New York and Victor Sen Yung (billed as Sen Yung) is introduced as Chan's #2 son James (as shown in closing credits). Jimmy both aids his Pop and hinders the investigation but wants to become a detective.

In Charlie Chan at the Circus, Chan's #2 son is Charlie Jr., played by Layne Tom, Jr. In this new film, Layne Tom plays #5 son Tommy but the IMDb listing and all reviews show him as Willie. The closing credits clearly show Layne Tom playing the role of Tommy Chan and I never heard anyone refer to him by name - except perhaps the ship's Captain who says he is tired of this `tommyrot.' In this film, the Chan family is awaiting birth of first grandchild - this theme forming the basis of some good comedy throughout.

The bulk of the story takes place aboard the freighter Susan B. Jennings that is taking a mixed cargo from China to the US. The cargo includes animals for a San Francisco zoo - to include Oscar the lion and Eddie Collins as a great comedic keeper. George Zucco is superb as the eccentric psychiatrist Dr. Cardigan who is keeping alive the brain of Chinese murderer Chan Ho Ping. The rest of the supporting cast does a credible job and the viewer is offered a menu of suspicious characters and planted clues. `Opinion like tea leaf in hot water - both need time for brewing.' Just stick to the main clues as they are revealed and you might just get to the end along with Lieutenant Chan.

There are fewer racial slurs in this offering although the elder Chan makes reference to the `wrong flavor' when viewing a newly born black child. Probably too much time is spent with Oscar and Al but he is funny.

Chan gathers everyone together at the end in the Captain's Cabin where he tricks the guilty party into taking a final incriminating step. The last scene is interrupted by a phone call from the hospital and the lights being turned off, but in the end, justice prevails. As in earlier Chan movies, the detective knows some facts that the viewer cannot know, but in this film those facts are not vital to figuring out the solution.

By the way, the grandchild is a boy. Recommended.
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6/10
"Honolulu Police frown on choking bay with bodies."
classicsoncall19 March 2005
Warning: Spoilers
"Charlie Chan in Honolulu" opens with a view of the mailbox at the Chan family home, reading 'Chas. Chan' - I never really thought of the Oriental Detective as "Chas". The film is Sidney Toler's debut as the master detective, along with Victor Sen Yung's first portrayal of Number #2 Son Jimmy, although he appears in the credits simply as Sen Yung. Layne Tom, Jr. is back, this time as unnumbered son Tommy; he had appeared in "Charlie Chan at the Circus" and "Charlie Chan at the Olympics" as Number #2 Son Charlie Jr., but his age in those films does not coincide with the chronology of the Chan offspring, which is revealed in this film to be at thirteen.

With Charlie off in a rush to the Maternity Hospital for the birth of his first grandson, Tommy intercepts a phone call from the Honolulu Police stating a murder has been committed aboard the freighter Susan B. Jennings. Tommy convinces brother Jimmy to get involved with the case, then manages to stow away aboard the ship to help with the investigation. Charlie meanwhile, about to view his first grandchild strikes a comedic note describing a nurse's mistake in bringing out a black baby - "wrong flavor".

By the time the elder Chan gets wind of the murder case, Jimmy is deeply embroiled in the effort, having been mistaken for the famed detective. There's a colorful cast of characters offered here, led by the sinister presence of George Zucco's character Dr. Cardigan, a criminal psychologist who reveals his penchant for nursing a live human brain! The comedic chores of the film are handled by animal keeper Hogan (Eddie Collins), who spends most of his time keeping the free ranging Oscar the Lion in check.

The murder victim was to have received three hundred thousand dollars in a business deal, delivered by Miss Judy Hayes (Phyllis Brooks). Fellow passenger Carol Wayne is eventually revealed to be the wife of the victim, seeking a divorce and in a pact with the ship's captain to steal the money; Ms. Wayne/Hillman eventually becomes victim number two. Rounding out the passenger list aboard the freighter, and thrown in as likely suspects are a supposed Detective Arnold (Richard Lane) and his captive Johnny McCoy (Marc Lawrence). Chan smokes out the phony detective, a McCoy accomplice, as he sets up the ship's captain (Robert Barrat) to reveal his identity with a rigged gun threaded to a hidden camera; the camera reveals the person who made an attempt on Chan's life as he comes close to solving the mystery.

As Charlie Chan films go, this one is probably about middle of the road in terms of interest, though a fine effort for Sidney Toler's first portrayal of Chan. For the viewer, there's a little more to go on to solve the murders than the earlier Warner Oland mysteries, so the revelation does not come off as a complete surprise. But the real payoff comes at the end of the film when Charlie receives word that he has become a new "grand pop" - his response to the news: "In present case am only innocent bystander."
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7/10
Charlie Chan in Honolulu (1938) ***
JoeKarlosi29 January 2009
This was the first Chan film in which Sidney Toler took over the main role from Warner Oland, and he is immediately masterful and acceptable in the part of the Asian detective. I didn't expect to enjoy Toler, not only since I am an Oland fan, but because my first exposure to him was through seeing one of his later mediocre Monogram Chan quickies from the '40s. But this debut has Toler in fine and confident form.

The film begins with a humorous dinner at the Chan home, with Charlie's wife and 10+ children. We quickly establish who the detective is and where he comes from, and then we see that his enthusiastic #2 son Jimmy (well played by Victor Sen Yung) is as excited about being a detective as his older #1 brother Lee had been in the Oland series. When a call arrives for Chan to investigate a murder aboard a small freighter, son Jimmy intercepts and decides to impersonate his dad to get some quality sleuthing in. Some fun happenings ensue before Charlie Chan himself gets wind of it and ultimately joins Jimmy on board to handle the case.

This is an all-around entertaining chapter in the series, with assistance too from George Zucco, as one of the mysterious suspects aboard the ship who collects criminal brains. There are some annoying bits by one of those typical "silly 1930s funnymen" used for comic relief in the mix, but what makes it all work is how effortlessly Sidney Toler and Sen Yung slip into their roles formerly undertaken by Warner Oland and Keye Luke, as the new father and son. *** out of ****
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8/10
Back home with new protagonists
binapiraeus8 March 2014
Due to the regrettable death of Warner Oland, 20th Century-Fox had to look for a 'new' Charlie Chan to continue its immensely popular series; they found him in Sidney Toler, who was indeed an ideal choice, not only because of his physical appearance (although he had primarily Scottish roots, he had quite an oriental look, and he always claimed that there had been Asians among his ancestors), but also of his acting style that was quite similar to Oland's: he was simply PERFECT at portraying the gentle, polite Chinese with a lot of wisdom, cleverness, and also humor.

Now, since the protagonist had changed, the producers seemed to think it best to change his assistant as well: instead of 'number one son' Lee, it's now 'number two son' Jimmy (Sen Yung, who would make a wonderful team with Toler for many more 'Charlie Chan' adventures) - but, in order not to upset the audience too much, they let Toler's first appearance begin right at his home in Honolulu, among his whole huge family... to which another member is just about to be added; not a child, but a grandchild for Charlie this time! But amid this happy family scene, a police call comes in, calling Charlie to a freighter off the harbor where a murder has been committed - only it's not Charlie who takes the call, but one of his smaller boys, who tells everything to Jimmy, who's most ambitious to become a detective as well, and goes there to impersonate his father, hoping to get his first 'big' case that way... Instead, he and his little brother who followed him secretly are in a pretty bad jam soon; and Charlie, who's been informed of somebody 'impersonating' him, comes to their rescue just in time!

Anyway, Jimmy has done quite a good research job until now - only it's up to his father now to put the pieces of the difficult puzzle together: a man traveling with a bag filled with money which he'd handed over to a pretty young lady who had orders to forward it to an unknown destination was shot; there are five more passengers aboard the freighter: the VERY strange psychiatrist Dr. Cardigan (George Zucco, one of the greatest specialists at this kind of roles), young Judy Hayes who was entrusted the money, mysterious Mrs. Wayne, and a police officer who seems on strangely friendly terms with the murderer he's in charge of and has to turn over to the States' authorities. But that's not all: the cargo room is full with... beasts: lions, elephants, monkeys - and their boozy warden, who has to deliver the whole 'Noah's Ark' load to the zoo!

So there's LOTS of adventure and suspense guaranteed in Sidney Toler's debut as 'Charlie Chan': murders, criminal psychology, hot money, convicts - and on the other side great fun with Jimmy Chan's first attempt to be a detective, the stuttering animal warden who takes 'his' lion for walks and sleeps beside him, but is afraid of ghosts and shadows, the creepy psychiatrist examining everyone with a loony look in his eyes... In short: there ARE some changes in style, but it still remains the same good old 'Charlie Chan' series we all adore!
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May I Have Another Look at Your Brain, Please
dougdoepke14 June 2008
Fairly good blend of comedy and mystery. There's been a murder aboard ship in Honolulu and Charlie must leave his clan and expectant daughter-in-law to investigate. Highlight for me is George Zucco doing his mad scientist routine with usual straight face. Here he collects human brains in bottles, and when he grabs Jimmy Chan (Sen Yung) to measure his head, it's funnier than all the other antics combined. Fine cast, including fast-talking Dick Lane, sinister Marc Lawrence, Kewpie-doll Phyllis Brooks, and the much-underrated Claire Dodd with a force to her that's good enough for A-pictures. Also, it's a sprightly Sydney Toler in his first turn as the Chinese detective. For me, the rotund rubber-faced Eddie Collins is a matter of taste, but he does have his moments with the pet lion (likely left over from another production). Anyway, it's a good fast 60 minutes with a well-developed array of suspects and a number of chuckles.
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6/10
Sidney Toler takes over the role for the first time...
Doylenf11 June 2008
Upon Warner Roland's death, it was SIDNEY TOLER's turn to play the Chinese detective with the huge family. This time his son is played by Victor Sen Yung, who would go on to play the role of Jimmy Chan in many future Chan films.

This time the plot involves $300,000 of stolen money and a slew of passengers aboard a freighter, several of which are suspicious enough to be questioned by Chan about their associations. RICHARD LANE, MARC LAWRENCE, PHYLLIS BROOKS, EDDIE COLLINS and ROBERT BARRAT are the chief suspects but it's GEORGE ZUCCO, a mad doctor with thick glasses carrying a live brain in a suitcase, who makes the most vivid impression and, at one point, actually seems to be the killer when a couple of murders occur.

Not the best of the series, but it does make a good start for Sidney Toler who would go on to keep playing Chan until the mid-'40s. The comic relief from Eddie Collins is sometimes painful and Chan's quotations are a bit much, as usual. He gathers the passengers together for the final scene and stages a bit of detective work that gives the story a nice finish.

Summing up: As usual, the viewer is given almost no way to solve the crime.
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Comedy/ Drama/ Wild Animals/ Murder/
whpratt111 June 2008
This Charlie Chan, (Sidney Toler) keeps you busy seeing plenty of comedy performed by Jimmy Chan, (Victor Sen Young) oldest son to Charlie Chan who takes over an investigation of a murder which occurred aboard a freighter and claims he is Charlie Chan and gets himself deeply in trouble with his father. George Zucco, (Dr. Caredigan) appears in this film wearing glasses that look like the bottom of coco cola bottles and is very mysterious especially when he transports human brains along with him on his travels. Wild animals like tiger's, and lions also appear in this film and there are plenty of women who act very suspicious and one gal has in her possession $300,000 dollars which seems to disappear and more people are involved with this investigation. At the same time, Charlie Chan is expecting his first Grandchild and the entire family of fourteen all can be seen visiting the hospital room. You will never be able to figure out just who the killer is, because the film goes around like a Merry-go Round. Enjoy this 1938 B Film.
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8/10
prime Charlie Chan!
RemiFasolati-881-77188229 December 2013
Charle Chan in Honolulu (1938) Sydney Toler. Sen Young (as son Jimmy). Charlie detains tramp steamer investigating a murder. Classic Chan! The well-known George Zucco plays a creepy scientist (Dr. Cardigan) who keeps a human brain alive in a jar; red-herring? A detective is aboard ship returning an escaped prisoner to prison, another red-herring? Zoo menagerie including wandering lion, all aboard ship, adds distraction to cluttered but delightful story line. Lots of colorful characters and bad acting. Keeps you guessing, can YOU guess who the murderer is? Good addition to the Chan series.

"Mr. Chan, what's your opinion on the case?" Charlie Chan: "Opinion like tea leaves, take time for brewing."
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6/10
Toler's first Chan
bensonmum213 February 2008
Warning: Spoilers
In Charlie Chan in Honolulu, Chan is called out to a freighter with six passengers making its way to Hawaii. A mysterious man has been murdered and $300,000 is missing. Chan must work his way through the clues, red herrings, odd characters, and other assorted obstacles to find a solution. In typical Chan fashion, he gathers all the suspects together to reveal the killer's identity.

Charlie Chan in Honolulu marks Sidney Toler's first outing as the venerable detective. The movie may not be spectacular, but it's not a bad way to begin Toler's run in the series. The movie also sees Victor Sen Yung take over for Keye Luke in the role of Chan's main son. H. Bruce Humberstone would appear to have been a solid choice to direct Toler's first Chan. He was familiar with the series having already directed three installments, including the much heralded Charlie Chan at the Opera. Likewise, the supporting characters are also a solid group. George Zucco and Phyllis Brooks give exceptionally noteworthy performances. Eddie Collins provides the comic relief. The biggest weakness of Charlie Chan in Honolulu is the plot. It's just not that interesting. And, in infuriating fashion, Chan's solution to the mystery is a cheat. There's no way for the audience to have figured out the solution based on the clues presented. It takes a last minute piece of evidence to unmask the killer.
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5/10
On His Own Turf For Once
bkoganbing11 June 2008
For a man who's actual job is as a detective with the Honolulu, PD, Charlie Chan sure got around. Just a quick look at the titles in the series and this man traveled the world over. This first film with Sidney Toler playing the inscrutable Oriental detective for once has him in Honolulu, solving a case on his own stomping grounds.

But this murder of a passenger who's been stripped of his identity in Honolulu Harbor on a freighter comes at a most inopportune moment for the Chan family. Charlie and his wife are anxiously awaiting their daughter presenting them with their first grandchild.

Here unfortunately is where the film gets a bit dopey. Number 2 son Victor Sen Yung gets the call from Honolulu PD for his father to get out to the harbor and investigate. Not wishing to disturb the old man at the hospital and wanting to prove he's a good detective too, Sen Yung goes out to the harbor and pretends to be his father. Of course later on the real Charlie Chan takes over.

I really think that 20th Century Fox went overboard on this one. Even if you're a cop's son, impersonating a police officer is serious business. Charlie must have had one incredible bit of pull to keep number 2 son out of that jackpot.

Still it's an average episode for the series and fans of Charlie Chan will like it.
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7/10
"Making bedfellow of serpent no guarantee against snakebite."
utgard142 March 2014
Charlie Chan (Sidney Toler) is called to investigate a murder aboard a freighter docked in Honolulu. There's pressure on Charlie to solve the case quickly so the freighter can leave, as well as waiting on news about the birth of his first grandchild and dealing with meddlesome son Jimmy's attempts to be a detective.

It was nice to see Charlie's family again, especially Charlie Chan, Jr. (Layne Tom, Jr.). This is also the first appearance of "Number Two Son" Jimmy Chan (Victor Sen Yung). He's not as charming as Keye Luke's Lee Chan, but he's fun and enjoyable in his own way. Supporting cast features Robert Barrat, Richard Lane, and the great George Zucco. This is Sidney Toler's first Charlie Chan film. Toler's Chan was different from Oland's. A little more snark from Charlie and more comic relief from sidekicks. While I prefer Warner Oland, Sidney Toler was an admirable replacement and most of his Chan movies are good. At least until the series moved to Monogram.
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7/10
Charlie Chan Carries On!
bsmith55521 November 2014
Warning: Spoilers
"Charlie Chan in Honolulu" (1938) is notable as the first Chan film to star Sidney Toler in the title role. He had been chosen by Darryl F. Zanuck to replace Warner Oland who had passed away earlier that year. It also introduces (Victor) Sen Yung as No. 2 son Jimmy Chan. Layne Tom Jr. who had appeared in "Charlie Chan at the Olympics" the previous year as Charlie Chan Jr. with Oland, appears here as No. 5 son Tommy.

The story is set in Honolulu but most of the action takes place on a freighter where a murder has been committed. We first meet Toler's Chan at home with his wife and umpteen children awaiting the birth of the family's first grand child.

Charlie is called to investigate a murder aboard the aforementioned freighter but as Charlie has gone to the hospital to await his grand child's birth, No. 2 son Jimmy goes in his stead accompanied by No. 5 son Tommy. Jimmy attempts to investigate the murder but as always gets himself into trouble. Charlie arrives just in time to prevent Jimmy from being thrown overboard.

Judy Hayes (Phyllis Brooks) is the only witness to the murder having been present when it occurred. She had been trying to transfer a mysterious $300K to the victim when he was struck down. Several persons of interest are placed under suspicion. First we have Judy Hayes, the mysterious Dr. Cardigan (George Zucco), Carol Wayne (Claire Dodd) who may not be who she seems, Dectective Joe Arnold (Richard Lane) and his prisoner Johnny McCoy (Marc Lawrence), the ship's Executive Officer Randolph (John King). Captain Johnson (Robert Barrat) assists Charlie and Jimmy in their investigation.

The money disappears, another murder happens and an attempt is made on Charlie's life. Finally Charlie concocts a plan to fool the murder into revealing himself and........................................

Sidney Toler takes a bit of getting used to as Chan but would fit comfortably into the role that he would play for the next decade. Yung makes an excellent foil for Toler and he too would continue on in the series. This film is enhanced by the presence of the ever sinister George Zucco in the cast. He was always a suspect. The comedy relief provided by Eddie Collins and his lion would fit better into a Three Stooges comedy rather than here.

Just an added note, Philip Ahn who plays Charlie's son-in-law had a connection with Keye Luke who had appeared in the Oland Chans. Both appeared in the 70s TV series "Kung Fu" as Chinese mentors to star David Carradine.
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7/10
Decent
SanteeFats28 October 2013
Warning: Spoilers
In this Charlie Chan movie there is a murder on board a freighter that is carrying six passengers. One of them has $300,000 in cash that she is suppose to deliver to one of her bosses clients. The money gets swiped and is hidden in a lifeboat where another passenger discovers it. The guy who finds it is a crook on his way back to Frisco with a detective. This detective is actually his accomplice. Charlie has that figured out and both will go to jail at the end of the voyage. Chan's number two son goes on board before Charlie gets there and tries to solve the case. He doesn't of course but it is a funny enough scenario. When things finally settle it turns out that the ship's captain is the guilty party. He was trying to get a huge windfall through murder and theft. If you are old enough to remember "Death Valley Days" the captain is played by the narrator of that show. Sydney Toler is Chan for this movie but there were actually two who played the role. Each brought different aspects to the role. Both were white guys and both spoke pigeon English. In today's climate of political correctness that would never fly.
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enjoyable film
oscar-3512 April 2013
Warning: Spoilers
*Spoiler/plot- Charlie Chan in Honolulu, 1938. Honolulu Police Lieutenant Charlie Chan is aphorism-spouting oriental sleuth, while his son debut as Charlie's Number Two Son, Jimmy. While awaiting the birth of his first grandchild, Chan endeavors to solve a shipboard murder involving $300,000.000 on a Hawaiian freighter.

*Special Stars- Sidney Toler, Victor Sen Yung, George Zucco, Eddie Collins, Phyllis Brooks, Marc Lawrence, Richard Lane, James P Spencer.

*Theme- A good detective always uses all his senses to defeat crime.

*Trivia/location/goofs- Sidney Toler made his first appearance as aphorism-spouting oriental sleuth Charlie Chan in 1938's Charlie Chan in Honolulu, while Victor Sen Yung likewise makes his series debut as Charlie's Number Two son, Jimmy.

*Emotion- This was an enjoyable film because we learn and see the family life of the famous Charlie Chan. His large family is mentioned in all seceding film of this series. The family matters make the character as lovable and interesting to the film's fans. The best of the film's for it's humanity.
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6/10
Charlie Chan investigates a murder on a freighter.
michaelRokeefe22 September 2010
Warning: Spoilers
Sidney Toler makes his first appearance as the Oriental sleuth Charlie Chan. The honorable detective is at the dinner table with his brood eagerly awaiting the birth of his first grandchild. While at the hospital a call comes from headquarters for Charlie to investigate a murder aboard a Shanghai freighter bound for Honolulu. Number Two Son Jimmy(Sen Yung)takes the call and immediately sets out to prove that he has the makings of a detective and is mistaken for his father at the murder scene. Charlie arrives in time to keep Jimmy from being thrown overboard and to his surprise finds one of his younger sons Tommy(Layne Tom Jr.)on board as a stowaway. With more than enough possible suspects; Chan goes about finding a murderer and a thief, if not one in the same. His choices are an odd assortment of crew members, a real crook, the ship's captain and an heiress. Also in the cast: Phyllis Brooks, George Zucco, Claire Dodd and Robert Barrat.
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6/10
Toler and Sen Yung's debut as Chan & son!
admjtk170119 April 2000
This is the first film with Sidney Toler as Charlie and Sen Yung as Jimmy. And, while it is fun to see them at home with the whole family, I was disappointed by it. The film spends too much time on low brow humor with Eddie Collins and his lion. George Zucco has a wonderful role. In the film "Mr. Moto's Last Warning", there is a theater program that lists the film "Charlie Chan in Honolulu" with Warner Oland as the star. At the time the Moto film was made, it was probably hoped Mr. Oland would be able to make this film. Unfortunately, he passed away. Toler's Chan is very abrupt and he has many acid comments. I prefer the humble, polite portrayal of Oland.
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8/10
Charlie Chan rides again!
JohnHowardReid19 December 2017
Warning: Spoilers
Charlie Chan in Honolulu marked Sidney Toler's debut in the series. Confronting the late Warner Oland on what was his own turf, Toler proved a more than able substitute.

True, he was a surrounded by a first-rate support cast, including Phyllis Brooks as the lovely lady in distress, George Zucco and Marc Lawrence as red herrings and, above all, rubber-faced Eddie Collins as the bravest comedian in the business.

The plot, containing an intriguing puzzle by Charles Belden, was skilfully directed by Lucky Humberstone and atmospherically photographed by Charles Clarke.

This movie debuted at New York's Central on December 31, 1938.

The Fox DVD rates a perfect ten out of ten.
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5/10
Wrong Flavor but digestible.
thejcowboy229 May 2017
Warning: Spoilers
Some of my fondest memories was watching the portly white suited Asian super sleuth Charlie Chan. The Character was created by Earl Derr Biggers who traveled to Hawaii and was planning on writing a detective novel related to the tropical Island paradise. Biggers was taken with two Asian American police detectives from the Island of Oahu and from that created the soft spoken,parable filled Investigator. Up until that time Chinese were portrayed as evil characters in stories and Biggers who was ahead of his time felt a positive Asian on the right side of the law would turn the tides. Hollywood initially tried Asian actors in the role with no success.Then they used a Swedish born actor Warner Oland who was convincing and starred in 16 Films as Mr. Detective Chan solving Murders all around the globe.Ironically Chan's side kick was an Asian actor Keye Luke as his Number 1 son. Oland dies and the search was on for a replacement. This film Chan in Honolulu is the first film for newly appointed Mr. Chan by Sidney Toller who was chosen over 34 actors. American born Toler slid in nicely as Chan but with a slight edge when rattled especially by newly appointed Number 2 son Jimmy (Victor Sen Young)). Not as soft as the original actor Oland but always makes a fool out of his son who constantly under-minds his Father.Chan tries to instill patience with his junior rather than jump to initial conclusions. This episode is the first home based murder mystery on Chan's turf Honolulu bearing the title. Number one Daughter is expecting and is in long Labor. Exciting times for Charlie Chan on the birth of his first grandchild. Meanwhile Number two son Jimmy receives a phone call from the authorities that there has been a murder on the freighter the Susan B. Jennings out of Shanghai. Jimmy takes it upon himself to become his father and solve the murder with help of younger brother Tommy (Layne Tom Jr.) While the elder Chan waits in the Hospital Jimmy and Tommy board the ship and start asking questions to a colorful cast of suspects. Eventually the real Charlie Chan steps into action and solves the case just in time for the blessed event. Just a good clean family movie.
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7/10
Certainly passable
ericstevenson18 May 2016
This was slightly worse than "Charlie Chan At The Opera" but way better than "Behind That Curtain". This is mostly enjoyable because it features one of Charlie Chan's kids (the one featured before) trying to directly solve the case on his own. I can't help but thinking I was more aware of this character when I was younger. Now, there is something that could have been done a lot better. Despite the fact that the movie is titled "In Honolulu" it mostly takes place on a cruise ship. It still manages to have interesting characters and a good plot. It reminds me of that awful "Friday The 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan". This was infinitely better as it was not horribly acted and disappointing.

I find it odd how one of the characters thinks he sees a ghost which everyone questions. Later, one of the characters claims he has a living brain and numerous others in store, but nobody questions that. The most amusing moments in the film are with the guy and his lion. Yeah, he finds a lion on the ship and they end up becoming friends. It makes little sense, but is very fun. I appreciate the mystery and it is pretty unexpected. ***.
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7/10
Relatively Smooth Transition
Hitchcoc7 January 2016
Warner Oland had died and Sidney Toler took over the role of Charlie Chan. While Lee is apparently in college, Number Two son, Jimmy, becomes the one aspiring to be a detective. During a rather tiresome beginning involving the birth of a grandchild, there is some banter between father and son and other child. While Charlie is at the hospital with the entire here, one of the boys gets a call about a murder aboard a ship. Jimmy and his stowaway brother end up on the ship, impersonating honorable father. In addition to two woman, a strange man who sleeps with a lion, is a weird character played by George Zucco, who was in many horror films. He has a kind of fish tank where he keeps a brain alive. Anyway, things go from bad to worse. One of the women came aboard with 300,000 dollars. It is soon missing. There are numerous suspects and eventually Charlie gets wind of his son's bumbling activities (not terrible, just not very insightful) and heads for the ship. This isn't a bad transition for the series as Toler picks up pretty well where his predecessor left off. This Chan, at least for now, is a bit harsher.
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5/10
Psychiatry of no value if brain ceases to function
kapelusznik1817 August 2015
Warning: Spoilers
***SPOLIERS*** Sidney Toler in his debut as the legendary Hawaiian detective Charlie Chan gets involved in a, you guessed it, murder that his wannabe detective and bumbling son James, Sen Yung, takes charge of. That by impersonating his famous father who at the time is in the hospital maternity ward waiting to see if his first grandchild is either a boy or a girl. The dead man Mr. Randolph, found in the ship Susan B. Jennings, has a mysterious past. In that together with his murder $300,000.00 was stolen from Judy Hayes,Phyills Brooks, who was bringing it back to her boss in Honolulu from Shanghai on a top secret mission! Before Charlie can come to his son's assistance he seemed to have solved the murder all by himself in running into the hard of hearing and creepy Dr. Cardigan, George Zucco, who seems to know more about Mr. Randolph's murder then he's letting on to.

Fair but not one of the best Charlie Chan murder mystery with a lot more suspects then you would expect making it far more difficult for Charlie, even with the help of his son James, to solve. It's while trying to solve the both murder of Mr. Randolph as well as robbery of Judy Hayes' $300,000.00 another murder takes place on the ship of passenger Mrs. Carol Wayne, Claire Dodd, who as it later turned out was somehow involved with the person who murdered Mr. Raldolph who in turned, in Carol knowing too much, ended up murdering her as well!

****SPOILERS*** Charlie for his part uses the now with perfect hearing, and cleared as a suspect in Mr. Randolph & Mrs. Wayne's murders, Dr. Cardigan to help him catch the killer but not knowing just quite, with as many as a dozen suspects, just who he is. That's until Charlie in setting a trap for him in thinking that he has the goods, a pair of fingerprints, on him ends up tricking the killer in total darkness, with him turning the lights off, to retrieve it. Not knowing that a flash camera was set up by Charlie for the killer, in grabbing the so-called evidence of his crime, that he fell right into it thus convicting himself, in living black& white, of the two murders- Mr. Randolph & Mrs. Wayne- as well as the stolen $300,000.00 when the film was developed!
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6/10
wild and a little much
blanche-229 August 2013
"Charlie Chan in Honolulu" is Sidney Toler's first Charlie Chan, and the difference between him in this and in his last films is very noticeable. Here he is much more lively.

As this story unfolds, Charlie's daughter is about to give birth, and while he and his wife are at the hospital, the police call Charlie at home and ask him to go to a ship where someone has been murdered. Aspiring detective Jimmy Chan (Sen Yung, Bonanza's Hop Sing) intercepts the call, and he and #5 son Tommy (Layne Tom Jr. who in real life became a distinguished architect) decide to take on the case. Tommy immediately gets stuck in an area where wild animals are being kept for importation to the zoo; chaos ensues. This takes up some footage at the beginning.

Charlie finally arrives and tries to sort out the mess, but there's another murder, and a missing and reappearing $10,000, a mysterious doctor (George Zucco) who pretends to be deaf and has an interesting science experiment on board, a fast-talking detective and his charge -- meanwhile, Charlie keeps getting calls from his son-in-law.

They really threw the book at this one, complete with very dramatic music, as Toler's debut. He's delightful.

One of the crazier Chan films, but it's nice to see Toler so energetic, and the Chan family is fun.
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7/10
Chan and sons investigate murder in the harbor
csteidler5 July 2012
A fun opening scene: a dinner table crowded with Chans of all sizes. Charlie (Sidney Toler) tries briefly to quiet down his offspring and enforce some manners; they listen politely to his proverb and then go right back to grabbing food and yelling.

Lots of family involvement in this Charlie Chan picture, especially in the first half. A Chan daughter is about to deliver a first grandchild, to the excitement of all. Number two son Jimmy (Sen Yung) wants to be a detective and has even made business cards: "I bet I could be the best in the islands," he tells his pop, "with your help." 10-year-old Tommy Chan (the hilarious Layne Tom, Jr.) has the same detecting bug as Jimmy.

With Charlie off at the maternity hospital, a case inevitably develops—it's a murder on a ship just arrived in port. Jimmy and Tommy ill-advisedly start the investigation on their own; soon enough, Jimmy nearly gets himself thrown overboard for impersonating an officer. Of course, Charlie arrives on board just in time to rescue him: "Young squirt merely chip masquerading as block."

Eventually, the picture does settle down into a nice study of several suspects. The great George Zucco is suspicious-looking Dr. Cardigan; Phyllis Brooks is a woman travelling with $300,000 in cash and is the only witness to the murder; Richard Lane and Marc Lawrence are a cop and prisoner on their way home to the States; Claire Dodd is a mysterious female who may be keeping some secrets; and Robert Barrat is the ship's captain who can't wait to get his cargo back out to sea. Eddie Collins is comic relief as a scaredy-cat animal trainer in charge of a lower hold full of zoo animals.

It's a pretty good mystery and throws suspicion back and forth quite well; although I've seen this one before, I couldn't remember who did it and I couldn't guess, either!

While this is the first film in the series for both Sidney Toler and Sen Yung, both seem so familiar in their roles that it's hard to evaluate them as newcomers—apparently that's a good indication that both stepped in and became instantly at home.

More humor than most Chan pictures, but solid all the way around.
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6/10
modest, confused movie
r-c-s21 November 2008
Warning: Spoilers
This movie is NOT the most brilliant Charlie Chan. Toler is fine as Charlie; the plot is the good old 'round a few suspects up and see' (not very original, but it's a trademark of the series and I like it ). What goes wrong is that they seem unsure about which side to take...a police movie...a comedy movie...a parody movie... I found the diversions with Chan's son unbelievable and at times annoying, but the most annoying character was Collins as the on-board zoo-keeper; I am starting to think that all those so-called 'vaudeville' comedians all look alike (poor man's Costellos ). Acting isn't worth mentioning...perhaps Zucco is the only decent one besides Toler. A very modest movie.
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