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

Thursday, March 12, 2015


Kane Richmond and Jean Rogers
CHARLIE CHAN IN PANAMA (1940). Director: Norman Foster. 

Charlie (Sidey Toler) and number two son (Victor Sen Yung) are in Panama, which is a nest of secret agents. A man is about to tell Charlie (who is in disguise as hat seller Fu Yen) the true identity of the spy named "Reiner," when this contact suddenly dies from smoking a poisoned cigarette. Charlie learns that the mysterious Reiner is out to sabotage the fleet going through the Panama canal. Suspects include Dr. Grosser (Lionel Royce), who keeps plague-carrying rats; Richard Cabot (Kane Richmond), who works in the nearby plant; Kathi Lenesch (Jean Rogers of Secret Agent X-9),  a dancer who catches Cabot's eye; Manolo (Jack La Rue of The Story of Temple Drake), who owns the club where Kathi dances; the somehow- sinister Compton (Lionel Atwill of The Devil is a Woman); school teacher Jennie Finch (Mary Nash); and others. There's a creepy scene in a cemetery with a dank tomb and a hidden room, and the climax has all of the suspects held captive by a bomb about to go off. 

Verdict: Lots of fun. ***. 

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