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

Thursday, March 19, 2015


Victor Sen Yung and Sidney Toler
CHARLIE CHAN AT THE WAX MUSEUM (1940). Director: Lynn Shores.

Convicted criminal Steve McBirney (Marc Lawrence of Jigsaw) manages to escape from the court room, where he makes his way to a wax museum run by crazy Dr. Cream (C. Henry Gordon). With plans to dispose of him, Cream invites Charlie Chan (Sidney Toler) to participate in a radio program of unsolved cases wherein Chan and Dr. Von Brom (Michael Visaroff) will try to determine if a man named Rocke was wrongly executed years ago. Naturally the program is to be broadcast from the wax museum, where son Jimmy (Victor Sen Yung), who faints more than once, keeps confusing his real father with the wax duplicate. Then someone turns up dead, killed by a poison dart. Suspects, besides McBirney and Cream, include reporter Mary Bolton (Marguerite Chapman of Man Bait); lawyer Carter Lane (Archie Twitchell); old caretaker Willie (Charles Wagenheim of Meet Boston Blackie); engineer Edwards (Harold Goodwin); radio man Agnew (Ted Osborne); Lily Lattimer (Joan Valerie); and the creepy Mrs. Rocke (Hilda Vaughn). This is an entertaining but somewhat oddball Charlie Chan movie with confusing elements that don't quite jell, and the fact that most of it takes place in one closed-in setting doesn't help much, either. Still, it's fun.

Verdict: Charlie and Jimmy among the cobwebs. **1/2.

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