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


Warner Oland and C. Henry Gordon
CHARLIE CHAN AT THE OLYMPICS (1937). Director: H. Bruce Humberstone.

Edwards (David S. Horsley) is piloting a plane that can also fly with a new remote control device, when he takes off for parts unknown. He is later found murdered -- the question is: who killed him, where is the device, who stole it, and who do they intend to sell it to? Charlie Chan (Warner Oland) tries to find the answers to these questions while in Berlin for the Olympics, where Number One Son Lee (Keye Luke) is entered in the swimming competition. Characters embroiled in this mystery include fellow competitor Betty (Pauline Moore); her boyfriend Richard (Allan Lane of King of the Mounties); slinky Yvonne Roland (Katherine DeMille), who sports a much-remarked-upon white fox fur and seems to have a hankering for Richard; Inspector Strasser (Frederick Vogeding), who wishes to demonstrate German efficiency; Cartwright (John Eldredge), who invented the stolen device; filibuster Arthur Hughes (C. Henry Gordon of Thirteen Women), who wants to buy said device; and Hopkins (Jonathan Hale of Strangers on a Train), who also has a vested interest in the proceedings. While not necessarily one of the better Chan films this installment especially serves as a kind of time capsule as it takes place at the historic pre-war Olympics and at one point Chan even travels on the Hindenburg. The acting is good, with Gordon being especially vivid. DeMille -- a Linda Darnell sound-alike -- was the adopted daughter of Cecil DeMille and was married to Anthony Quinn. At one point Lee Chan gets kidnapped; his younger brother, Charlie Chan Jr. [Number Two Son] also appears and is very well played by charming child actor Layne Tom Jr. (He later played both Tommy and Willie Chan.) Charlie Chan at the Olympics is interesting in that it plays around with exactly who the bad guys and good guys are throughout the movie.

Verdict: Interesting Chan entry. **1/2.

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