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

Thursday, April 23, 2015


Mantan Moreland and Sidney Toler
SHADOWS OVER CHINATOWN (1946). Director: Terry O. Morse.

There's thirteen people on a bus driving through a rain storm to San Francisco, where passenger Charlie Chan (Sidney Toler) hopes to find the identity of a torso murderer. At a way station, someone takes a shot at Charlie. Does the body of a dismembered woman belong to a missing heiress, or the grand-daughter (Tanis Chandler) of Mrs. Conover (Mary Gordon of Bonnie Scotland)? While Charlie investigates -- with the help of Jimmy Chan (Victor Sen Yung back as Number Two Son); chauffeur Birmingham Brown (Mantan Moreland), and Chief Lannigan (George Eldredge) -- there are more murders and a lot of confusion. Suspects include pickpocket Cosgrove (Jack Norton); private eye Hay (John Gallaudet); crook Mike Rogan (Paul Bryar); Marine colonel Tilford (Bruce Kellogg); and others. Shadows Over Chinatown has a basically good story and is quite entertaining, but there are some gaping holes in the plot. Who exactly took that shot at Charlie? How did Mrs. Conover's friend Miss Johnson (Myra McKinney) manage to locate her grand-daughter's apartment when only a short while before Charlie discovered the young woman working as a waitress? Who knows? The identity of the killer in this is no great surprise, but the film is still fun. Terry Morse also directed Unknown World with Bruce Kellogg, who was equally mediocre in both movies. 71-year-old Toler made two more appearances as Charlie Chan that year before his death in 1947. An interesting prologue deals with the Department of Missing Persons.

Verdict: Chan is not missing in this even if some of the script is. ***.

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