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The Return of Charlie Chan (1973)

Charlie Chan investigates a murder case aboard the yacht of a wealthy Greek shipping tycoon.


Daryl Duke, Leslie H. Martinson (uncredited)


Gene R. Kearney (story) (as Gene Kearney), Gene R. Kearney (teleplay) (as Gene Kearney) | 1 more credit »




Cast overview, first billed only:
Ross Martin ... Charlie Chan
Richard Haydn ... Andrew Kidder
Louise Sorel ... Ariane Hadrachi
Joseph Hindy Joseph Hindy ... Paul Hadrachi
Kathleen Widdoes Kathleen Widdoes ... Irene Hadrachi
Don Gordon ... Lambert
Peter Donat ... Noel Adamson
Leslie Nielsen ... Alexander Hadrachi
Rocky Gunn Rocky Gunn ... Peter Chan
Virginia Ann Lee ... Doreen Chan
Ernest Harada ... Oliver Chan
Soon-Tek Oh ... Stephen Chan (as Soon-Taik Oh)
Patricia Gage ... Sylvia Grombach (as Pat Gage)
Edward Greenhalgh Edward Greenhalgh ... Dr. Howard Jamison (as Ted Greenhalgh)
Graeme Campbell Graeme Campbell ... Inspector McKenzie


Charlie Chan investigates a murder case aboard the yacht of a wealthy Greek shipping tycoon.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Crime | Drama | Mystery


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Did You Know?


This American TV film was shown on British television in 1973, several years ahead of its first showing on American TV; it was shown under the title, "Happiness Is A Warm Clue". See more »


Late in the movie, during his interrogation of all known suspects, Charlie is handed a crucial bit of photographic evidence printed off the 'teletype' machine. However he is actually given a sharp glossy photo hand developed from a photo-lab darkroom. A teletype image would be of crude quality and printed on thin paper with punched holes. See more »


Follows Charlie Chan at the Wax Museum (1940) See more »

User Reviews

Happiness Is A Warm Clue
28 April 2011 | by profh-1See all my reviews

A number of classic detective characters had revivals in TV-pilots in the early 70's, including Stewart Granger as SHERLOCK HOLMES, Robert Conrad as NICK CARTER, and, it figures, Ross Martin as CHARLIE CHAN. The 1st 2 were "period" pieces, but CHAN was a sequel to the Fox & Monogram series, updated to the present-day (1971) and featuring 2 of his kids grown up plus several grand-kids in cameo. It could have been interesting, but like the others I mentioned, it didn't sell. Not only didn't it sell, it wasn't even aired until 8 years after it was made! That's gotta hurt.

I usually have no problem watching "old" movies or TV shows, but somehow this one screams "1971" a little too much. The fashions, the loud blaring jazz music, but worse (and this is something I bet most viewers aren't even aware of), the style of directing and editing. I just came off watching my entire CHARLIE CHAN collection, and the entire way this thing is written, directed, acted, photographed & edited is just JARRING beyond belief. Among other annoyances, too many close-ups, too much fast-cutting between 2 or more things going on at the same time... Honestly, if you want to revive a "classic" character, would it HURT that much to study the STYLE of the old films and try to bring at least a LITTLE of that ambiance to the present project?

One thing that bugged me in many of the late-70's and 80's "revivals" was the way so many stories insisted on telling us that our heroes had "retired" and stopped doing their thing. STAR TREK, WILD WILD WEST, THE MOD SQUAD, MAN FROM UNCLE... I'd forgotten this trend actually started almost a decade earlier. But then, nobody had ever seen this film when most of those sequels were being made.

Something that I actually found amusing in this film was that no less than 3 of its leads were not using their regular accents. Not only is Ross Martin playing a Chinese detective, but Leslie Nielsen (FORBIDDEN PLANET) is playing a Greek tycoon, while Richard Haydn (AND THEN THERE WERE NONE) is NOT doing his usual "nasal" whine thing. Actually, Ross Martin's regular voice creeps in far too much of the time. He LOOKS right in the part, but he doesn't SOUND right. I'd have almost preferred if they'd gotten Joey Foreman, who played "Harry Hoo" on GET SMART (doing a dead-on Sidney Toler impression).

I kept rattling my brains trying to figure out where I'd seen Louise Sorel before... I narrowed it down to one of the NBC MYSTERY MOVIES (yes, she did a BANACEK) or STAR TREK. But I'd forgotten it was "Requiem For Methusaleh", where she played the last of the various women Jim Kirk FELL HARD for. I'm astonished to see how many episodes of daytime soap-operas she's been in since! Wow.

The story itself is monstrously over-complicated. Having watched tons of murder mysteries in the last few months (SHERLOCK HOLMES, POIROT, MISS MARPLE, MR. MOTO, and yes, CHARLIE CHAN), this may get the vote for the MOST indecipherable. I just saw it, and have almost no idea who did what to who and why.

Ironically, THIS film was apparently the inspiration for the cartoon series THE AMAZING CHAN AND THE CHAN CLAN, which debuted on Saturday mornings just a year later. In that, they got Keye Luke (alias "Number One Son" Lee Chan) to do the voice of Charlie. It's too bad nobody thought of having him star in THIS first.

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Release Date:

17 July 1979 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Happiness Is a Warm Clue See more »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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