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How Does A Detective Find the Missing Fans of Charlie Chan?

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Chris Ellis

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I opined several times on this site on the old days how much I did not like the Monogram films as a whole (despite this I am such a completist I collected the lobby cards!) but agree that this one is, along with the Trap, the ultimate worst Chan film. I had to rewind the film the first time I saw it after the guy in and out of the wheel chair fiasco to make sure I was not losing my senses....and as I recall Chan goes into a federal building at one point that is flying the California state flag....the Monogram films are riddled with very unconvincing murder devices or plot twists as well as bloopers but Service tops most!

Chris Ellis

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The Chinese Cat (1944)..actually like this design....

John Cucinotta

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There are other aspects of the Monogram films that show low-budget production.  For example, in "CC in the Secret Service", the action supposedly takes place in Washington DC, but the building in which Charlie works has a California state flag flying outside, so no one bothered to either change the flag for the movie or at least change the camera angle to omit seeing the flag.  Also, the scene showing Charlie leaving work and heading to the murder scene must have been filed on a weekend, since the lobby of a supposed federal office building is completely empty except for Charlie.

Chris Ellis

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Yep, these films are full of bloopers!...next title card: Black Magic (1944)...

John Cucinotta

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Now that we are politely criticizing the Monogram films, another element that I don't like is the prolonged search scenes in dark basements, warehouses, etc.  These scenes often give Birmingham or Chattanooga an opportunity to provide a little comic relief, but they seem to drag on too long at times. 

Chris Ellis

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HI John: You are absolutely right...the plots are so slight they needed to pad out the film to make it even the length of a "B" picture. This is a problem not just with the Chans but with many Monogram films including ones in detective series. Also, they have a tendency because of the slight plots to make the characters, including the police, excessively stupid such that it takes extra time to solve a case that could be solved in 15 minutes of screen time. The two Kitty O'Day films made at Monogram are ones that really strike me that way (written by Tim Ryan who also appeared in and contributed to writing Chan films at Monogram)...then again, one sees the same in non-Monogram entries too...one film I remember like that was one of two Sarah Keate mysteries made at Warner Bros. called Mystery House (1938) with Ann Sheridan, where it turns out the murderer was known all along by a main character (perhaps even characters, but too long since I watched it!) but did not tell the detective! Oh well, I had fun watching them...once! Chris.

Next title card: The Jade Mask (1945)….
Last Edit: May 27, 2019, 06:17:03 pm by Chris Ellis

Chris Ellis

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The Scarlet Clue (1945)….

Chris Ellis

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The Shanghai Cobra (1945)...a much in demand card because of the design...people seem to like the cobra!

Chris Ellis

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The Red Dragon (1945)….

Chris Ellis

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Dark Alibi (1946)….

Chris Ellis

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Shadows Over Chinatown (1946)….I found this the most difficult of the Monogram title cards to obtain...do not know if that was just my luck or that it is rarer than most...

Chris Ellis

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Dangerous Money (1946)...

John Cucinotta

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I think "Dangerous Money" is a weak movie with a somewhat confusing script.  Part of the storyline centers on a Treasury agent who is killed while trailing counterfeiters, and part of the story concerns recovering valuable artwork that was hidden during World War II.  These two themes partially come together at the end of the film.  There are cast changes with Charlie working with his son Jimmy instead of Tommy who had appeared in the early Monogram films, and Chattanooga substitutes for Birmingham Brown.  I'd be interested in hearing other opinions, but I rank this film low on the list.

Chris Ellis

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Well, I did not want to be too negative but was tempted to say when I posted the lobby card that this entry was up there with Secret Service and Trap; e.g. that Dangerous Money is also a pretty bad film....so seems we are in agreement on most of these!
Last Edit: June 02, 2019, 10:52:43 pm by Chris Ellis

Chris Ellis

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Nadir...The Trap (1947)...