CHARLIE CHAN AT MONTE CARLO(director: Eugene J. Forde; screenwriters: Jerry Cady/Charles S. Belden/from a story by Robert Ellis and Helen Logan; cinematographer: Daniel Clark; editor: Nick De Maggio; cast: Warner Oland (Charlie Chan), Keye Luke (Lee Chan), Virginia Field (Evelyn Grey), Sidney Blackmer (Victor Karnoff), Edward Raquello (Paul Savarin), Harold Huber (French Police Inspector, Jules Joubert), Kay Linaker (Joan Karnoff), Robert Kent (Gordon Chase), George Lynn (Al Rogers), John Bleifer (Ludwig), Georges Renavent (Renault); Runtime: 71; Twentieth Century-Fox; 1937)
“Warner Oland’s final appearance as Charlie Chan…”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
Warner Oland’s final appearance as Charlie Chan is one of the weaker episodes in the long running series. The story was too muddled. Charlie and number one son, Lee (Luke), are in Monte Carlo for a brief gambling vacation before going to Paris, where Lee’s art work will be in an exhibition contest. When their taxi breaks down before they catch the train to Paris, they are forced to walk and come across a luxury car with a dead bank messenger (Renavent). The chauffeur, Ludwig (Bleifer), is also missing. A sports car is speeding away from the crime scene. Charlie on further investigation finds a rhinestone by the car and footprints in the sand.
On the night the murder was committed Gordon Chase (Kent), the brother of Joan Karnoff (Linaker), learns from his sister that $25,000 in securities is missing from her wealthy husband Victor’s (Blackmer) safe. Gordon tells his sister to get it back to him immediately, since Victor is dumping these metallurgic securities on the market to cause financial woes on his main rival Paul Savarin (Raquello).
Joan was once married to an American, Al Rogers (Lynn), who has a history as a petty thief back in Chicago and is working as a bartender in the Hotel Imperial. She was never divorced and is now being blackmailed for the bonds. In exchange for the bonds he will not reveal that she’s still married. But Al refuses to return the blackmail money to Joan and she’s forced to pawn her jewelry.
Victor tells the police the dead messenger was carrying a million in bonds and accuses Savarin of the crime, but he also says he’s not worried because he was insured. The police also discover that Rogers tried to sell $25,000 in bonds that were Victor’s. Charlie’s friend, the police chief, Jules Joubert (Huber), finds the owner of the sports car is Evelyn Gray (Virginia Field) and Charlie discovers it was her rhinestone he found. On a police check they find Evelyn is a 24-year-old Londoner with no source of income but living in one of Monaco’s best hotels, dressed in furs, and driving an expensive sports car. Upon questioning, she admits she saw the dead man but did not kill him.
The chauffeur is found dead in a marsh near the crime scene. Charlie and Jules then discover Roger’s body when they go to question him, as the murderer tried to make it look like a suicide and left the bag with the stolen bonds in his room. But Charlie notes there are $200,000 in bonds missing and brings all the suspects together to tell them that the one who took those missing bonds and then put them back in Victor’s safe, is the killer of three people and is presently in the room.
It comes down to looking at the blackmail angle and the romantic triangle, and from those clues the wily Charlie puts it all together. For comedy, Lee’s misuse of French leads to some embarrassing situations and Joubert’s choppy English and inflated pride in his bumbling police department leads to some amusing moments.
REVIEWED ON 7/21/2001 GRADE: C
Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”
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