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Charlie Chan in Panama (1940)

Approved | | Adventure, Comedy, Crime | 1 March 1940 (USA)
Inspector Chan investigates a group of travelers, one of whom is a saboteur.


Norman Foster


John Francis Larkin (original screen play) (as John Larkin), Lester Ziffren (original screen play) | 1 more credit »


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Charlie's investigation of a phony psychic during the 1939 World Exposition on San Francisco's Treasure Island leads him to expose a suicide as murder.

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Charlie tries to discover the identity of a strangler who strikes multiple times on a cruise ship bound from Honolulu to California.

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An escaped convicted murderer hides out at a New York wax museum where he hopes to get plastic surgery, which will help him revenge himself on Charlie Chan.

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Mary Whitman, an old friend of Charlie's in Reno for a divorce, finds herself accused of murdering the woman her husband planned to marry after the decree became final.

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While Charlie is distracted with the birth of his first grandchild, son Jimmy impersonates his father in order to investigate a murder aboard a freighter in the harbor.

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A treasure map in four pieces, the ghost of a hanged pirate, a talking parrot, and a ship full of red herrings complicate Charlie's search for a murderer on board a docked ship.

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On the trail of a singer who killed the man she loved in Honolulu, Charlie finds her stabbed to death when he ultimately catches up to her in Rio.

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Hired to investigate forged bonds, Charlie is thwarted by the murder of his undercover agent, but the arrival of son Lee helps him uncover the true culprits.

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When Charlie's old friend from Scotland Yard is murdered when they attend a police convention in New York, Chan picks up the case he was working on.

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Charlie Chan investigates apparent poisonings at a mystery mansion in the Mojave Desert.

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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.

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When a prominent official is murdered at a banquet honoring Charle Chan, the detective and son Lee team up to expose an opium-smuggling ring.

Director: James Tinling
Stars: Warner Oland, Irene Hervey, Jon Hall


Complete credited cast:
Sidney Toler ... Charlie Chan
Jean Rogers ... Kathi Lenesch
Lionel Atwill ... Cliveden Compton
Mary Nash ... Miss Jennie Finch
Victor Sen Yung ... Jimmy Chan (as Sen Yung)
Kane Richmond ... Richard Cabot
Chris-Pin Martin ... Sergeant Montero
Lionel Royce Lionel Royce ... Dr. Rudolph Grosser
Helen Ericson ... Stewardess
Jack La Rue ... Manolo
Edwin Stanley Edwin Stanley ... Governor Webster
Donald Douglas ... Captain Lewis (as Don Douglas)
Frank Puglia ... Achmed Halide
Addison Richards ... Godley
Edward Keane ... Dr. Fredericks


Charlie impersonates a shop owner to foil an espionage plot which would destroy part of the Panama Canal, trapping a Navy fleet on its way to the Pacific after maneuvers in the Atlantic. Written by Ed Stephan <stephan@cc.wwu.edu>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


One puff from a deadly cigarette... and the fleet is marked for doom! See more »


Approved | See all certifications »






Release Date:

1 March 1940 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Charlie Chan a Panama See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Twentieth Century Fox See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Mono (RCA High Fidelity Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


This film was first telecast in Detroit Monday 9 November 1953 on WXYZ (Channel 7), in Portland OR Saturday 19 December 1953 on KOIN (Channel 6), in New York City Wednesday10 February 1954 on WCBS (Channel 2), in Dayton Saturday 27 February 1954 on WLW-D (Channel 2), in Cincinnati Monday 17 May 1954 on WLW-T (Channel 5), in Dallas Thursday 20 May 1954 on KRLD (Channel 4), in Los Angeles Saturday 28 August 1954 on KNBH (Channel 4), and in San Francisco Wednesday 4 May 1955 on KRON (Channel 4). See more »


Jimmy Chan: [after being kicked by his father while playing dice] How'd you know it was me?
Charlie Chan: Frequent spankings have made offspring's anatomy most familiar.
See more »


Remake of Marie Galante (1934) See more »


Vereda tropical
(1936) (uncredited)
Written by Gonzalo Curiel
See more »

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User Reviews

One of the Best Sidney Toler Chan Films
4 March 2014 | by utgard14See all my reviews

Although made before the U.S. had entered World War II, this one feels totally like a World War II picture. Charlie Chan (Sidney Toler) goes undercover in Panama to root out a saboteur (and murderer) known as Ryner. Exceptionally good supporting cast, solid plot, and tense direction make this one of the better Toler Chan films. Victor Sen Yung is back as "Number Two Son" Jimmy Chan and is fun as always. His comical antics are dialed back a bit here to make room for the sabotage story, which is treated with the utmost seriousness. Lionel Atwill, Addison Richards, Jean Rogers, Mary Nash, and Jack La Rue are all very good. Interesting that Charlie doesn't show up until ten minutes into the movie. Good story and the saboteur's identity was a genuine surprise to me. Definitely a Charlie Chan film I would recommend.

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