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

Thursday, May 21, 2015


Roland Winters in the final Chan film
THE SKY DRAGON (1949). Director: Lesley Selander.

In the final Charlie Chan picture (of the series that began with Warner Oland), Chan (Roland Winters) is aboard a plane when the pilot (Milburn Stone), co-pilot (Joel Marston), stewardesses and passengers are all knocked out with drugged coffee. So is a security guard named John Anderson (Paul Maxey) while his associate, Ed Davidson (Lyle Latell), is murdered. Fortunately Lee Chan (Keye Luke) can fly the plane but then a satchel with a quarter of a million dollars in it disappears. The suspects include the aforementioned pilots; the stewardesses Jane (Noel Neill of the Superman serial) and Maria (Elena Verdugo of The Lost Tribe); burlesque queen Wanda LaFern (Iris Adrian of Lady of Burlesque); her friend Andrew Barrett (Lyle Talbot); and others. Birmingham Brown (Mantan Moreland) dallies with Wanda's saucy maid, Lena (Louise Franklin) in a couple of cute sequences, and Eddie Parks makes an amusing Justice of the Peace, Tibbetts. Although the killer in this may be fairly obvious to many, The Sky Dragon is entertaining, has a number of clever aspects, and has a very satisfying and exciting wind-up with everyone back on a plane for the climax.

Verdict: A nice wind-up to the Charlie Chan series. ***.

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