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

Thursday, February 19, 2015


Leo G. Carroll and Lynn Bari
CITY IN DARKNESS  (1939). Director: Herbert I. Leeds.

Charlie Chan (Sidney Toler) is in Paris where assorted characters are converging in a blacked-out city on the verge of war. Marie Dubon (Lynn Bari of Shock) is hoping to buy a forged passport from Louis Santelle (Leo G. Carroll) so that her husband, Tony (Richard Clarke), accused of embezzlement, can escape the city. Antoine (Pedro de Cordoba) sends his young son, Henri, off to war only to learn that his employer, Petroff (Douglass Dumbrille) may be up to treasonous activities. Lady spy Charlotte Ronnell (Dorothy Tree) is mighty handy with a gun, but she may not be the murderer Chan is looking for. This is an atypical Chan film in that there are no proverbs, few if any suspects, no sleuthing sons of Chan, and little suspense or excitement -- in other words it's a pretty dismal concoction. The performances are okay, with Dumbrille [A Life at Stake] taking top honors, but Harold Huber over-acts too much as a would-be French detective. Adrienne D'Ambricourt is more on the mark as a large and boisterous landlady. Lon Chaney Jr. has a bit part and just a couple of lines. Leeds also directed Bunco Squad.

Verdict: This one should have stayed dark. *1/2.

No comments: