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DVD: Charlie Chan and the Scarlet Clue (1945)
Review Rating:   Standard  
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1 (NTSC)

July 6, 2004



Genre: Mystery  
A fatal mistake in Charlie Chan's employ leads the master detective to a radio studio with deceitful secrets.



Directed by:

Phil Rosen
Screenplay by: George Callahan
Music by: stock
Produced by: James S. Burkett,  Philip N. Krasne

Sidney Toler,  Mantan Moreland,  Ben Carter,  Benson Fong,  Virginia Brissac,  Robert E. Homans,  Jack Norton,  Janet Shaw,  Helen Devereaux,  Victoria Faust

Film Length: 65 mins Process/Ratio: 1.33:1
Black & White Anamorphic DVD: No
Languages:  English Mono / English, French & Spanish Subtitles
Special Features :  


Comments :

The fifth Chan film from Monogram exploits the old murder-in-a-radio-station formula, taking advantage of colourful, melodramatic actors, who themselves become suspects or victims while a caped killer lurks in the darkness. "The Scarlet Clue" offers a few amusing potshots at radio advertising, and there's a rather jarring reference by one of the characters as being well versed in the demands of radio and television. (Primeval TV sets and programs already existed in 1945, but the boob tube was still a few years away from heavily luring audiences from movie houses, thereby contributing to the demise of B-features and poverty row studios like Monogram.)

This time, Chan's #3 son and sidekick Birmingham Brown have been upgraded as Chan's assistants. The duo, though, are straight comedy relief; Brown maintains the familiar black stereotype, often afraid of anything spooky (including his own reflection), and shouting helplessly when confusion surrounds his being. Actor Mantan Moreland, however, bobs above the stereotype in an amusing verbal sparring session with another character, in which both finish each other's sentences in a series of comedic vignettes.

MGM's transfer is made from a decent print (sporting Monogram's new corporate moniker, Anglo-Amalgamated), though the soundtrack is a bit quiet overall. The mono mix is otherwise balanced, and gray levels are good, with decent blacks during several dark scenes, including a lengthy sequence where our heroes are trapped in a dark, experimental 'weather tunnel.'

This title is available separately or as part of “The Charlie Chan Chanthology,” and includes “The Shanghai Cobra,” “The Scarlet Clue,” “Meeting At Midnight,” “The Jade Mask,” “The Chinese Cat” and “Charlie Chan In The Secret Service

Follow-up sequels are availble in the TCM / Warner Bros. collection, including " Dark Alibi" (1946), "Dangerous Money" (1946), "The Trap" (1946), and "The Chinese Ring" (1947).

© 2004 Mark R. Hasan

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