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The Red Dragon

USA 1945
produced by
James S. Burkett for Monogram
directed by Phil Rosen
starring Sidney Toler, Fortunio Bonanova, Benson Fong, Robert Emmett Keane, Willie Best, Carol Hughes, Marjorie Hoshelle, Barton Yarborough, George Meeker, Don Costello, Charles Trowbridge, Mildred Boyd, Barbara Jean Wong, Donald D. Taylor
screenplay by George Callahan, based on characters created by Earl Derr Biggers, musical director: Edward J. Kay

Charlie Chan, Charlie Chan (Sidney Toler), Charlie Chan at Monogram

review by
Mike Haberfelner

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Charlie Chan (Sidney Toler) has come to Mexico City, to see to it that a new formula for an all-powerful atom bomb doesn't fall into the wrong hands. Then though, the secretary (Donald D.Taylor) of the scientist (Robert Emmett Keane) who has developed the bomb is murdered, and later the scientist himself. There is evidence though that the formula has not been stolen, even though nobody knows where it's hidden. There is a heap of problems though surrounding the two murders: The hotel the two stayed at is full of enemy spies on one hand, on the other, both men were killed by a gunshot, and in each case only one shot was heard - yet two cartridges are found at each crimescene, and weirdly enough, evidence suggests none of them were fired from guns at all. So what was the murder weapon, who did it, where's the formula, and what has a bottle of Chinese ink to do with all of this.

During their investigations, Chan and local inspector Carvero (Fortunio Bonanova) seem to be getting nowhere for the longest time, and only stumble upon more and more corpses, all killed by gunshots from no guns - then Charlie finds a weird object someone has slipped into his pocked, an object that's clearly made of two bullets and some device that's remote controlled. Shortly afterwards, the device goes off, and it would have killed Charlie would he have kept it in his pocket. So that's the murder weapon, and a cryptic message the dead secretary has written with his dying breath reveals the remote control to be a fake thermostat that the killer simply applied wherever he wanted to kill somebody, as it would look inconspicious enough. Now though Charlie finds one of this thermostats, sets it off, and just follows the sound of the gunshots to the killer's (Barton Yarborough) room, where all the devices go off one after the other. The killer was of course a foreign spy and gunrunner - but that leaves one question unanswered, where's the formula?

And that's where above-mentioned Chinese ink comes in, it was written almost invisibly onto a typewriter ribbon and this way kept out of everyone's sight though it was in plain sight ...

Benson Fong plays Charlie Chan's prerequesite son, while Willie Best replaces Mantan Moreland as Charlie's chauffeur - and proves to be no match for the talented Mr Moreland.

 

One of the lesser Charlie Chan-movies, mainly because on one hand Chan doesn't really sit well with larger-than-life espionage plots, on the other because the mystery at hand including the murder weapon is just a bit too far-fetched even in the genre-context to remain believable. Add to this that the mystery and the humour aspects of the film are not as balanced out as in other Chan-movies, and you end up with ... something not very good, actually.

 

review © by Mike Haberfelner

 

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Robots and rats,
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love and death and everything in between,
Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

is all of that.

 

Tales to Chill
Your Bones to
-
a collection of short stories and mini-plays
ranging from the horrific to the darkly humourous,
from the post-apocalyptic
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tales that will give you a chill and maybe a chuckle, all thought up by
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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