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Charlie Chan at the Opera

USA 1936
produced by
20th Century Fox
directed by H. Bruce Humberstone
starring Warner Oland, Boris Karloff, Keye Luke, William Demarest, Guy Usher, Margaret Irving, Gregory Baye, Nedda Harrigan, Frank Conroy, Charlotte Henry, Thomas Beck, Maurice Cass
written by Charles Belden, Scott Darling, based on characters created by Earl Derr Biggers, music by William Kernell, Oscar Levant, from the opera Carnival

Charlie Chan, Charlie Chan (Warner Oland), Number One Son Lee Chan, Charlie Chan at Fox

review by
Mike Haberfelner

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Charlie Chan (Warner Oland), his Number One Son (Keye Luke), inspector Regan (Guy Usher) & sergeant Kelly (William Demarest) are invetigating the case of an escaped madman, the opera singer Gravelle (Boris Karloff), which leads them to an opera house. Curiously enough, a death threat has been sent to Lili Rochelle (Margaret Irving), the primadonna of the current production, Carnival, and Gravelle is really in the house, but not only that, he overpowers the lead tenor Borelli (Gregory Gaye) of the opera, slips into his stage outfit & sings his part. Soon after that, both Borelli & Lili Rochelle are found dead, & Gravelle is a tailormade suspect. But he seems to know the opera house wioth all its secret trap doors & passageways too well to be caught.

Only eventually does Charlie Chan stumble over him, but instead of arresting him, he offers him the opportunity to also sing the finale of the opera ... where he, at the climax, when he reaches for his knife, is shot & seriously wounded by a police marksman ...

However, some further deductions by Chan reveal that Gravelle wasn't the murderer at all, but Anita (Nedda Harrigan), Borelli's wife, who has found out about her husband's affair with Lili Rochelle - who in fact was Gravelle's ex-wife -, & got rid of her hubby & Lili both, with Gravelle - about whose visit only she knew beforehand - as a tailormade suspect ...

 

An in a good way old-fashioned murder mystery, where the always reliable Boris Karloff plays the (in the end innocent) madman with all the suitable menace, and Warner Oland doing his usual good impression of a Chinaman. Some of William Demarest's pejorative comments about the Chinese might not be politically correct anymore from today's point of view, but overall, it's a good entry into the Charlie Chan-series.

 

review © by Mike Haberfelner

 

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Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

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Tales to Chill
Your Bones to
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a collection of short stories and mini-plays
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from the post-apocalyptic
to the weirdly romantic,
tales that will give you a chill and maybe a chuckle, all thought up by
the twisted mind of
screenwriter and film reviewer
Michael Haberfelner.

 

Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

the new anthology by
Michael Haberfelner

 

Out now from
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On the same day
a Burglar wants to kill you
and your Ex wants
to make up ...
... and for the life of it,
you can't decide
WHICH IS WORSE!!!

 

A Killer Conversation

produced by and starring
Melanie Denholme
directed by
David V.G. Davies
written by
Michael Haberfelner
starring
Ryan Hunter and
Rudy Barrow

out now on DVD