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

Thursday, January 15, 2015


George Brasno and Keye Luke
CHARLIE CHAN AT THE CIRCUS (1936). Director: Harry Lachman.

Charlie Chan (Warner Oland) takes his wife and twelve children to the circus and becomes embroiled in another mystery when one of the co-owners, the unpleasant Joe Kinney (Paul Stanton), is murdered. Suspects include Kinney's partner, Gaines (Francis Ford); the gorilla trainer, Blake (John McGuire of Sea Raiders); aerial artist Marie (Maxine Reiner), who was Kinney's fiancee; Marie's sister, Louise (Shirley Deane); circus worker Tom Holt (J. Carrol Naish) and Nellie Farrell (Drue Leyton), who claims to be the dead man's widow. Surely the killer couldn't be one of the adorable dancing midgets, Tim (George Brasno) and Tiny (Olive Brasno), nor Caesar the gorilla (Charles Gemora), and certainly not Lee Chan's pretty crush Su Toy (Shia Jung)? Keye Luke has a lot to do in this installment and emerges as comic relief, especially in a very funny scene when he and little Tim pretend to be a mother and her baby so they can follow one of the suspects! Shirley Deane appeared in several Jones Family films such as Educating Father as daughter Bonnie. Drue Leyton comes off very different in this than she was in Charlie Chan in London.

Verdict: Highly engaging Charlie Chan adventure. ***.

No comments: