Charlie Chan in Paris 1935 ★★★½

The best of Fox's many Charlie Chan films were the family affairs, those featuring one or more of the character's kids, and ideally those starring the original Chan, Warner Oland, opposite his "Number One Son" Lee, played by Keye Luke.

This, Luke's first appearance in the series, is a fairly standard, rather low-budget B-mystery about bond forgery and murder that's lent remarkable warmth and humanity by the touching, completely credible relationship between the wise Chinese detective and his Americanised son.

Their opening scene together, beginning with suspense, moving through the excitement of reunion, and ending with Luke vowing to protect his father from his would-be killer, is an absolute beauty.

There's also a fairly strong supporting cast, led by Fred and Ginger alumnus Erik Rhodes, Blessed Event's Mary Brian and veteran character actor Henry Kolker - whose role is little more than a glorified cameo - along with a spectacular reprise of that rough-and-ready style of Gallic dance I last saw in Parisian Love.

Fox had only thrown Luke into the series to snag a younger audience; it worked, but it did something greater, giving the films a human centre that the one-off mystery plots simply couldn't approach. Chan would have greater adventures, but this is the one that established the formula - winning in both senses of the word.

10 Comments

  • I think this is my favorite Charlie Chan film so far too (along with the one with Boris Karloff "... at the Opera"). The inclusion of "Chan Jr." Keye Luke strengthen it, and the movies to come, as Oland seemed to love working with the Luke and he himself got more motivated for the series.

  • Cheers for the comment. Yes, Oland and Luke are great together, and I also love Layne Tom's appearances. My favourites are Olympics, Opera, Shanghai and Broadway (probably in that order), though I also really like the first Toler film, Honolulu, and The Black Camel is worth a mention - despite the absence of kids - for its neat mystery, strong atmosphere and a superb performance from Bela Lugosi.

  • I've yet to see a Toler version of Chan and still got the last Chan movies with Oland from 1937 including the Olympics. Or since we're on about oriental detectives, still got to see Mr. Moto and Mr. Wong pictures too :)

    I do enjoy the Chan mysteries. Full of cheesy oriental sayings, usually have a quality guest star and they seem to have a lot of fun making them. One of the weirdest Chan's is the one in Egypt where Oland shares some scenes with Stepin Fetchit. That felt awkward! Two heavy stereotypes and they didn't exactly seem to hit it off either :p

    But "...in Paris" felt very polished compared to some of the other Chan productions. Managed to create a good atmosphere. Elegant. And naturally the very American Luke bringing the smiles :)

  • Yes, it's my favourite B-series of the period, just pipping Boston Blackie. The Motos are really good - a similar thing, but with the aphorisms replaced by jujitsu. Agreed on Egypt - Fetchit makes me feel very uncomfortable.

    I think you're right about Paris. It seems to have a lower budget than most of the ones that followed, but it's nicely done.

  • I know close to nothing about the Boston Blackie series except that it starred Chester Morris so looking forward to that now. Both for your tip and because I like Morris as an actor and felt he kind of got lost in the shuffle of the 30s stars.

  • Most honorable review.

  • Thank you... so much.

  • @PUNQ The Blackies are all essentially the same film, but they're great fun. Confessions is the best one. Agreed on Morris - such a fascinating, underrated actor. He's amazing in The Big House and the '30s version of Three Godfathers.

  • Gee, that was well played, Pops!

  • LOL! I always laugh when Luke calls out "Pops!".

    Coincidentally the Three Godfathers was the next movie I had lined up! And yeah, Morris truly was a great actor in that one. So unusually to see him in a cowboy outfit, but he looked the part of the baddie!

Please to comment.