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


Sidney Toler,  Fortunio Bonanova, Benson Fong, Willie Best 
THE RED DRAGON (1945). Director: Phil Rosen.

Charlie Chan (Sidney Toler) and son Tommy (Benson Fong) are in Mexico City when Charlie is called in to investigate what turns out to be a series of strange murders. People are being shot to death in front of witnesses but nobody (but Chan, of course) can figure out how come there is no assailant in the room or even exactly what kind of weapon has been used. The first victim is a man who discovered a 95th element whose destructive powers in an atomic bomb could wipe out the entire country! The suspects include Marguerite Fontan (Carol Hughes of Meet the Boyfriend), whom Inspector Carvero (Fortunio Bonanova) has special feelings for; Countess Irena (Marjorie Hoshelle), an entertainer with a shady background; Alfred Wyans (Robert Emmett Keane), who is all excited over the loss of a certain typewriter; Joseph Bradish (Barton Yarborough), an oil salesman or possible smuggler; and others. With Mantan Moreland working elsewhere at the time, Birmingham Brown is replaced by his cousin Chattanooga (Willie Best of Dangerous Money). The title refers to a type of Chinese ink. The members of the supporting cast in this are mostly colorless, but the story has clever elements and the leads are, as ever, swell. And we mustn't forget the scene when Charlie does the rumba to the shock of son Tommy!

Verdict: Chan capably treading water. **1/2.

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