Thursday, April 28, 2011
CHARLIE CHAN AT TREASURE ISLAND
CHARLIE CHAN AT TREASURE ISLAND (1939). Director: Norman Foster.
Writer Paul Essex (Louis Jean Heydt) is found dead on a flight to California upon which Charlie Chan is also aboard. Did Paul commit suicide or was it murder? He could be the latest victim in a rash of suicides instigated by a mysterious blackmailer known as Zodiac. Could this be the new sensation in magical circles, Dr. Zodiac, whom some people think is a big fake? Chief among these is his competitor, Rhadini (Cesar Romero), who goes with Chan to confront and question the man. Strangely, Chan enlists the aid of a psychic, Eve Cairo (Pauline Moore), whose esp abilities he seems to believe in. Douglas Fowley (Scared to Death; Desire in the Dust) plays a reporter and Trevor Bardette is a Turkish servant. As usual, Sidney Toler makes a terrific Chan, and Victor Sen Young is fine as his son, Jimmy; Romero is also notable. This one is a lot of fun and has a clever wind-up as well. [The events are loosely tied to the world's fair that was occurring in California on the title island during this time.] Director Norman Foster started out in Hollywood as an actor in 1929.
Verdict: One of the best and most suspenseful of the Chan films. ***.