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The Shanghai Cobra

USA 1945
produced by
James S. Burkett for Monogram
directed by Phil Karlson
starring Sidney Toler, Mantan Moreland, Benson Fong, James Cardwell, Joan Barclay, Addison Richards, Arthur Loft, Janet Warren, Gene Roth, Joe Devlin, James Flavin, Roy Gordon, Walter Fenner, Cyril Delevanti, George Chandler, Stephen Gregory, Mary Moore
screenplay by George Callahan, George Wallace Sayre, based on a story by George Callahan and characters by Earl Derr Biggers

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

review by
Mike Haberfelner

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Several employees of the First National Bank turn up dead, killed by cobra poison ... which is dopubly upsetting because inside the bank's vault the gouvernment keeps its ready supply of radium (!). But Chinese superdetective from Hawaii Charlie Chan (Sidney Toler) was arresting a man, Jan Van Horn, who killed bank employees in the same way back in Shanghai 10 years ago ... a man who has since escaped & who has undergone plastic surgery ... & so it's a pretty good thing that Charlie Chan - along with assistants Number 3 Son (Benson Fong) & Birmingham Brown (Mantan Moreland) - is at hand.

Chan's first clues are private eye Ned Stewart (James Cardwell) & a mysterious woman - who turns ut to be Paula Webb (Joan Barclay), a secretary at the bank. Eventually though, both of them turn out to be innocent. Further investigations though lead to Joe's (George Chandler) Diner & a jukebox therein that is remotecontrolled by an office inside the bank building & ejects darts dipped in cobra poison (talk about far fetched), then there's a weird system of pipes & service tunnels beneath the bank, that all have to do something with Rita's (Mary Moore) Laundrette, & with chemical researcher Jarvis (James Flavin), who might not be quite as respectable as he looks ... in fact he planned to use the bank's pipes to send his explosives there, blow up the vault & make a getaway via the sewage system.

Chan & assistants manage to stop him of course, even if they are temporarily caught in a caved in tunnel & Chan has to send his commands to the police via morsecode.

In the end of course, Jarvis is arrested ... & turns out to be not Jan Van Horn at all but the special agent who has arrested him back in Shanghai ... & Jan Van Horn turns out to be one of the bank's guards, eager to prove his innocence & thus on Jarvis' trail (who has of course committed the killings in Shanghai as well & only framed Van Horn) ... plus Paula Webb is actually Van Horn's daughter.

 

A little bit darker in mood than the previous Monogram Charlie Chan movies directed by Phil Rosen, the script for this one is nevertheless about as muddled up as those of the previous entries, but again it profits from a rather lighthearted approach to their roles by the central cast (Toler, Moreland, Fong) & a refusal to take itself too seriously.

 

review © by Mike Haberfelner

 

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Tales to Chill
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Tales to Chill
Your Bones to
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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
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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