The Chinese Cat Reviews

  • May 06, 2015

    After Warner Oland died, Sidney Toler took over as Charlie Chan with Fox's blessing for 11 films. My dad always said he liked Toler better. However, when Fox dumped the series in 1942, it moved to Monogram Pictures, a so-called Poverty Row studio. The budget dropped from $200K to $75K. Although the Chinese Cat is thought to be one of the better Monogram Chans, the low budget shows - we've got pretty spare sets and mostly fog or murky darkness. Toler is good and a bit tougher than Oland - even K. O.-ing a few crooks near the end. Mantan Moreland provides bug-eyed (racist) comic relief as Birmingham Brown. Benson Fong is wooden as Number Three Son, Tommy. For once, the crime isn't solved by Chan identifying a suspect from a group gathered together for that purpose - instead we are treated to a bit of a chase in a funhouse before the (potentially solvable) answer is revealed.

    After Warner Oland died, Sidney Toler took over as Charlie Chan with Fox's blessing for 11 films. My dad always said he liked Toler better. However, when Fox dumped the series in 1942, it moved to Monogram Pictures, a so-called Poverty Row studio. The budget dropped from $200K to $75K. Although the Chinese Cat is thought to be one of the better Monogram Chans, the low budget shows - we've got pretty spare sets and mostly fog or murky darkness. Toler is good and a bit tougher than Oland - even K. O.-ing a few crooks near the end. Mantan Moreland provides bug-eyed (racist) comic relief as Birmingham Brown. Benson Fong is wooden as Number Three Son, Tommy. For once, the crime isn't solved by Chan identifying a suspect from a group gathered together for that purpose - instead we are treated to a bit of a chase in a funhouse before the (potentially solvable) answer is revealed.

  • Feb 17, 2013

    Good old Chan murder case--Charlie Chan is forced to race the clock!!

    Good old Chan murder case--Charlie Chan is forced to race the clock!!

  • Oct 17, 2012

    1.5: Hmm. I was prompted to watch these by an article in The New Yorker that I read a year or two ago. I wasn't expecting them to be outstanding, but I was expecting something better than this. I have now seen essentially every Charlie Chan film, or at least all that were made between 1931 and 1947 (29 films). What struck me most is that these really have more in common with a television show than a feature film. Each film is essentially the same except for the "location." I guess it makes sense as they serve essentially the same purpose. One can essentially watch every film on auto-pilot comfortable in the knowledge that one knows exactly which characters will pop up and that everything will be satisfactorily resolved in the end. They are "C" picture at best. Sidney Toler is pretty good; Warner Toland is somewhat acceptable; and the other two one picture no-names are either inconsequential or awful. It is rather ludicrous that they didn't allow an actual Asian actor to play the role, but the portrayal of African-American's is much more heinous. They certainly pale in comparison to just about every other detective picture/TV series I've ever seen. None of the films rate an individual review so this will have to suffice for all 29.

    1.5: Hmm. I was prompted to watch these by an article in The New Yorker that I read a year or two ago. I wasn't expecting them to be outstanding, but I was expecting something better than this. I have now seen essentially every Charlie Chan film, or at least all that were made between 1931 and 1947 (29 films). What struck me most is that these really have more in common with a television show than a feature film. Each film is essentially the same except for the "location." I guess it makes sense as they serve essentially the same purpose. One can essentially watch every film on auto-pilot comfortable in the knowledge that one knows exactly which characters will pop up and that everything will be satisfactorily resolved in the end. They are "C" picture at best. Sidney Toler is pretty good; Warner Toland is somewhat acceptable; and the other two one picture no-names are either inconsequential or awful. It is rather ludicrous that they didn't allow an actual Asian actor to play the role, but the portrayal of African-American's is much more heinous. They certainly pale in comparison to just about every other detective picture/TV series I've ever seen. None of the films rate an individual review so this will have to suffice for all 29.

  • May 27, 2012

    This Charlie Chan film takes a while to get going, but once it gets to it's final act in the funhouse, is plenty amusing and interesting. But up until then, pretty standard.

    This Charlie Chan film takes a while to get going, but once it gets to it's final act in the funhouse, is plenty amusing and interesting. But up until then, pretty standard.

  • Bruce B Super Reviewer
    Mar 26, 2012

    Enjoyable and funny old school film from 1944 where Charlie Chan solves two case in one. The Murder of 3 men plus the recovery of a diamond stole a year prior. Mantan Moreland as Birmingham Brown adds all the enjoyment one needs for the night, he was a underrated actor and before his time. A movie for all old school Black and White Buffs 4 stars

    Enjoyable and funny old school film from 1944 where Charlie Chan solves two case in one. The Murder of 3 men plus the recovery of a diamond stole a year prior. Mantan Moreland as Birmingham Brown adds all the enjoyment one needs for the night, he was a underrated actor and before his time. A movie for all old school Black and White Buffs 4 stars

  • Jul 26, 2011

    Decent Monogram Chan features a lot of action not usually seen in a Chan film. The crooks work over Chan, then Tommy and later Chan conks a thug over the head with a gun butt. Sidney Toler must've been feeling pretty frisky. He's certainly a lot livelier than he is in the later Monograms. The supporting cast outside of Benson Fong and Mantan Moreland are pretty weak and the male romantic lead looks about 15-20 years too old for the part (Chan is supposed to have been good friends with his father--I'm surprised Chan doesn't mistake him for the "boy's" father.) The mystery itself is pretty pedestrian but director Rosen does a nice job keeping this series entry entertaining.

    Decent Monogram Chan features a lot of action not usually seen in a Chan film. The crooks work over Chan, then Tommy and later Chan conks a thug over the head with a gun butt. Sidney Toler must've been feeling pretty frisky. He's certainly a lot livelier than he is in the later Monograms. The supporting cast outside of Benson Fong and Mantan Moreland are pretty weak and the male romantic lead looks about 15-20 years too old for the part (Chan is supposed to have been good friends with his father--I'm surprised Chan doesn't mistake him for the "boy's" father.) The mystery itself is pretty pedestrian but director Rosen does a nice job keeping this series entry entertaining.

  • Apr 14, 2011

    Nothing special, just like any other mystery.

    Nothing special, just like any other mystery.

  • Jan 02, 2011

    Another enjoyable but essentially unremarkable Charlie Chan movie. The mystery used cooler props then usual, but the racial stereotypes, more of African Americans then Chinese, was a little hard to take.

    Another enjoyable but essentially unremarkable Charlie Chan movie. The mystery used cooler props then usual, but the racial stereotypes, more of African Americans then Chinese, was a little hard to take.

  • Jan 15, 2009

    A pretty good mystery movie, as most Charlie Chan films are. Mantan Moreland lightens it up with his typical "don't-leave-me-alone-in-the-dark" antics.

    A pretty good mystery movie, as most Charlie Chan films are. Mantan Moreland lightens it up with his typical "don't-leave-me-alone-in-the-dark" antics.

  • Sep 22, 2008

    lessee... diamonds, sliding doors, loaves of bread, twins & a one-handed criminologist. That didnt give it away, did it? lol.

    lessee... diamonds, sliding doors, loaves of bread, twins & a one-handed criminologist. That didnt give it away, did it? lol.