Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Thursday, July 4, 2013


Charlie confronts the suspects
THE SCARLET CLUE (1945). Director: Phil Rosen.

Charlie Chan (Sidney Toler) is pursuing a  certain criminal with Captain Flynn (Robert Homans) when the man is found dead, the only clue being a shoe print found at the scene of the crime. Charlie's investigation takes him to a building where there is a radio station on one floor and a radar research facility on another. Among the many suspects in the first and subsequent murders are Brett (I. Stanford Jolley), the radio manager; actresses Gloria Bayne (Janet Shaw) and Diane Hall (Helen Deverell); old-time Shakespearean and horror actor Horace Karlos (Leonard Mudie); impersonator Willie Rand (Jack Norton); Mrs. Marsh (Virginia Brissac), a termagant whose products are advertised on the radio soap operas she's forever criticizing; and others. The movie comes off like a homage to cliffhanger serials in that the generally unseen saboteur behind the scenes communicates with underlings via teletype, wears gloves and a mask, and at one point sends a fellow hurtling to his death by opening a trapdoor in the floor of a very high elevator car! The Scarlet Clue has an excellent script by George Callahan, enough sinister suspects to keep you guessing, a fast pace, a generous amount of suspense and humor, and even Mantan Moreland as the lovable Birmingham Brown. [Benson Fong is also on hand as # 3 son, Tommy.] Toler is terrific as Chan, and Brissac is certainly vivid as the nasty hag Mrs. Marsh [she played the warden in Lady Gangster]. A thoroughly satisfying Chan adventure, even if it is from Monogram.

Verdict: Snappy and clever. ***.

No comments: