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

Thursday, April 28, 2011


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. ***.


broadcastellan said...

One of my favorite entries in the series as well. Until I looked it up just now, I was unaware that the director, Claudette Colbert's ex-husband, was married to Sally Blane (who plays Stella Essex) at the time.

William said...

I wasn't aware of it, either. Thanks for the info!