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, J. Edward Bromberg and Harold Huber
CHARLIE CHAN ON BROADWAY (1937). Director: Eugene Forde.

Charlie Chan (Warner Oland) stops over in New York with Number One Son Lee (Keye Luke) and attends yet another banquet in his honor. While this occurs, Lee winds up rounded up as a suspect in the murder of a young lady of dubious reputation, Billie (Louise Henry), whom they met on the boat. Billie was involved with Burke (Douglas Fowley of Three on a Ticket), who owns the Hottentot Club, but he now seems more interested in dancer, Marie (Joan Woodbury of Brenda Starr, Reporter). The third lady in the case is reporter Joan Wendall (Joan Marsh) who has a romantic rivalry with fellow scribe "Speed" Patten (Donald Woods). Others involved include editor Murdock (J. Edward Bromberg); slick operator Buzz Moran (Leon Ames); Thomas Mitchell (Marc Lawrence of Jigsaw) who's been following Billie; and Inspector Nelson (Harold Huber) of the NYPD. From the title one would figure this is a backstage mystery, but it has nothing to do with the theater, more's the pity, although it is reasonably entertaining if not especially memorable. Oland and Luke are as good as ever; that big-faced gal Woodbury is excellent as Marie and does a lively dance number; and Henry and Marsh are also notable. Huber is perhaps a bit too exuberant -- but good -- and Leon Ames hits the right note as he generally does. An interesting aspect to the plot is that the Hottentot Club has a "Candid Camera" Night where patrons take pictures of the other customers with their own cameras and one of them wins a prize -- nothing much comes of this, however, as the photo that figures in the solution is taken by a reporter. An unexpected denouement caps the proceedings.

Verdict: Amiable Chan vehicle with some good acting. **1/2.

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