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
Site designed for 1024 x 768 resolution, using 16M colours, and optimized for MS Explorer 6.0. KQEK Logo and All Original KQEK Art, Interviews, Profiles, and Reviews Copyright © 2001-Present by Mark R. Hasan. All Rights Reserved. Additional Review Content by Contributors 2001-Present used by Permission of Authors. Additional Art Copyrighted by Respective Owners. Reproduction of any Original KQEK Content Requires Written Permission from Copyright Holder and/or Author. Links to non-KQEK sites have been included for your convenience; KQEK is not responsible for their content nor their possible use of any pop-ups, cookies, or information gathering.