CHARLIE CHAN IN EGYPT(director: Louis King; screenwriters: Helen Logan/Robert Ellis; cinematographer: Daniel Clark; editor: Alfred de Gaetano; cast: Warner Oland (Charlie Chan), Pat Paterson (Carol Arnold), Thomas Beck (Tom Evans), Jameson Thomas (Dr. Anton Racine), James C. Eagles (Barry Arnold), Frank Conroy (Prof. John Thurston), Stepin Fetchit (Snowshoes), Frank Reicher (Dr. Jaipur), Edfu Ahmad, Servant (Nigel de Brulier), Rita Hayworth (Nayda), George Irving (Prof. Arnold), John George (Ali); Runtime: 65; 20th Century Fox; 1935)
“An average Charlie Chan.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
An average Charlie Chan featuring Warner Oland as the Honolulu-based detective. Rita Hayworth has a bit part as a servant, while Stepin Fetchit plays his usual stereotype role–which might be offensive to some. He’s called Snowshoes and believes his ancestors are buried in one of the tombs. Charlie shows up at an archeological dig in Egypt to investigate why the sponsors of the dig, The French Archeology Society, haven’t received their valuables as arranged and why these valuables are showing up in the collections of their rivals. Charlie learns that Professor Arnold (Irving) opened up the Ameti tomb and a King-Tut curse came with it as one of his workers, Ali, mysteriously died.
Professor Arnold has been unheard of for a month and his daughter Carol (Paterson), her boyfriend Tom Evans (Beck), and Arnold’s violin playing son Barry (Eagles) are worried. Carol’s uncle, Professor Thurston (Conroy), a business partner on the dig with Professor Arnold doesn’t seem concerned, saying that he’s probably too busy to communicate.
When Charlie insists on seeing the treasures, he has an x-ray machine look through the mummy case and discovers Professor Arnold’s body with a bullet hole near the heart. He later learns the cause of death was a blow to the head.
Another partner in the venture is Dr. Racine (Thomas), who took over sponsorship when the other group pulled out. He now wants to make a profit on that investment, and Thurston admits selling the items to private collectors so he could pay Racine; Racine’s also the family physician and is treating Carol with drugs for her nervous condition. There’s one other suspect, Edfu Ahmad, a servant who is fanatical about making sure those who open up the tomb get paid back with vengeance.
Through his investigation Chan finds the cause of Professor Arnold’s death is that he discovered a secret passage in the tomb leading to a hidden room with more valuable treasures, and that the killer didn’t want anyone else to know.
The crime motif was greed and had nothing to do with any ancient curses. There are really only two logical suspects, and the usual traps Charlie sets do the job in bringing the killer out in the open. This was a lackluster suspense story, which at times seems more like a horror film. The actors didn’t distinguish themselves. But the film gave off some Egyptian charm, those borrowed from a long list of Hollywood B-movies.
REVIEWED ON 8/4/2001 GRADE: C
Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”
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