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Charlie Chan in The Chinese Cat (1944)

Approved | | Comedy, Crime, Mystery | 20 May 1944 (USA)
Charlie Chan investigates the locked-room murder of a chess expert.



(original screenplay), (character)

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Complete credited cast:
... Charlie Chan
... Leah Manning
... Birmingham Brown
... Tommy Chan
... Dr. Paul Recknik
... Thomas P. Manning
... Webster Deacon
... Det. Harvey Dennis
... Catlen (as Anthony Ward)
... Carl Karzdas / Kurt Karzdas
... Salos
... Gannet (as Stan Jolley)
... Mrs. Manning
... Hotel Desk Clerk
Luke Chan ... Wu Song


Thomas P. Manning, businessman and chess expert mysteriously shot in a locked room, dies clutching some chess pieces. Police are baffled, and finally abandon the case. Six months later, victim's daughter Leah Manning, stung by a scurrilous book about the case, enlists the aid of Charlie Chan and Number 3 Son. Additional murders follow, leading to a climactic confrontation in a seemingly deserted "Fun House." Written by Rod Crawford <puffinus@u.washington.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


"MUST CONFESS. HONORABLE SON...This Is My Most Baffling Case!"


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Release Date:

20 May 1944 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Murder in the Fun House  »


Box Office


$75,000 (estimated)
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Company Credits

Production Co:

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Technical Specs

Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Mirrophonic Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?


This film received its earliest documented telecast in New York City Sunday 15 August 1948 on WCBS (Channel 2), in Chicago Friday 10 December 1948 on WBKB (Channel 4), in Syracuse Wednesday 13 April 1949 on WHEN (Channel 8), and in Cincinnati Friday 27 May 1949 on WKRC (Channel 11); on the West Coast Chan Fans got their first chance at it in San Francisco Tuesday 15 November 1949 on KPIX (Channel 5) and in Los Angeles Thursday 21 September 1950 on KTLA (Channel 5). See more »


The character played by Cy Kendall is identified as Webster Deacon in dialogue, but George Deacon in a newspaper insert. See more »


Charlie Chan: Never start anything unless I see end of road.
Dr. Paul Recknik: How are you coming along to date?
Charlie Chan: Did not say which end of road I could see.
See more »


Followed by The Shanghai Cobra (1945) See more »

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User Reviews

Mystery, Noir, Comedy - and it all goes together just fine!
20 March 2014 | by See all my reviews

The second of the Monogram 'Charlie Chans' is a pure 'old-fashioned' murder mystery again, without spies (although the War was still going on, as Charlie reminds us when he accepts a bet and offers to pay the money to the Chinese War Relief Funds if he loses), but a classic 'murder behind locked doors' - with the exception of a secret panel which leads to the room of the murdered man's wife, so she's the only suspect, but due to lack of evidence and motive the case is dropped. But then, months later, a criminologist writes a novel about the murder, clearly pointing out the wife of businessman Manning as his murderer.

Manning's stepdaughter in her despair calls on the unique abilities of Charlie Chan to find the real murderer; during the investigations, she'd fallen in love with Detective Dennis and wants to marry him, but now the shadow of murder keeps hanging over her family... And since son Tommy once again beat his Pop to accepting the case, Charlie can't break a family promise, of course, and starts recreating the whole case - which very soon leads him to a whole collection of diamonds hidden in various Chinese decoration figures, and to the conclusion that Manning and his business partner Deacon were crooks involved in a big diamond theft months earlier. But when Charlie and Tommy, accompanied again by Birmingham (who's become a cab driver now, and just happened to get Charlie as a passenger - which made him feel immediately that he's in for murder again...), enter the 'lion's den' disguised as a fun house, the 'fun' very soon stops, and they're being treated just like any other detective in any Film Noir of the time...

Monogram's 'new Charlie Chan style' unfolds here in a most effective way: this movie actually manages to combine successfully murder mystery (complete with hints for crime solving fanatics, like the lone chess figure) with tough, gloomy and foggy Noir elements - and of course comedy! One example: there are twin brothers involved in the gang, and one of them is murdered - and every time the other identical twin brother turns up, Birmingham and Tommy think they're seeing ghosts...!

High-quality crime entertainment, providing fun as well as suspense, and at the same time certainly NOT to be overlooked for its cinematic value!

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