|THE CHINESE RING (director: William Beaudine; screenwriters: W. Scott Darling/characters Earl Derr Biggers; cinematographer: William Sickner; editors: Ace Herman/Richard Heermance; cast: Roland Winters (Charlie Chan), Victor Sen Yung (Tommy Chan), Warren Douglas (Police Sgt. Bill Davidson), Mantan Moreland (Birmingham Brown), Louise Curry (Peggy Cartwright), Philip Ahn (Captain Kong), Byron Foulger (Armstrong), Thayer Roberts (Captain Kelso), Jean Wong (Princess Mei Ling), Cha Bing (Lilly Mae), George L. Spaulding (Dr. Hickey); Runtime: 67; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: James S. Burkett; Monogram Pictures; 1947)|
|"Below par Charlie Chan."
by Dennis Schwartz
B film director William "One Shot" Beaudine ("Lassies
Great Adventure"/"The Ape Man"/"Spook Busters") is not
up to the task of directing a routine Charlie Chan
formulaic episode in the long-running crime drama
series. In this below par Charlie Chan, Beaudine
rehashes bits from other Chan episodes, especially
those in Mr. Wong in Chinatown (1939) that
starred Boris Karloff as the titular detective. Beaudine's
pedestrian direction and the introduction of Roland
Winters, in his debut as Charlie Chan, instead of
Warner Oland or Sidney Toler, are the main detriments
in this incoherent film.
character of Charlie Chan was created by Earl Derr
Biggers in 1923, and he was mostly positively received
by the public as a universally liked super-sleuth
private detective working in Honolulu. In this
episode, writer W. Scott
Darling sets it in San Francisco, where
for some reason Charlie now resides without his large
Ling (Jean Wong) lands
in San Francisco by boat and visits the
esteemed detective Charlie Chan (Roland Winters) at
his home. The mysterious visitor is killed by a
poison dart fired from the outside window of Chan's
home while she waited in the parlor to see the
detective. Chan immediately calls his friend on the
San Francisco police force, Sgt. Davidson (Warren
Douglas). Before dying the princess gave Chan's
cringe-worthy racist stereotyped black butler (Mantan
Moreland) an ancient Chinese ring; and, before
she dies, the princess writes "Captain K"
on a piece of paper.
and Davidson team up to investigate the murder, but
nosy reporter Peggy Cartwright (Louise
Currie) gets wind of the murder and tags along.
They find out that the princess came to America with a million
bucks to purchase a fleet of airplanes for her
Chinese brother's freedom fighters in their defense
of the country from invaders.
It strikes the
investigators as odd that both Captain
Captain Kelso (Thayer
co-captained the same ship the princess was on
and both last names begin with the letter K. We
further learn that Captain Kelso was the
supplier of the planes for the princess.
The investigation also uncovers that the shady
American banker, Armstrong (Byron
Foulger), was arranging the deal.
With a slight plot twist and help from Chan's Number Two son Tommy (Victor Sen Yung), who in previous films was called another name, all the bad guys are captured.
REVIEWED ON 1/14/2015 GRADE: C+
Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"
© ALL RIGHTS RESERVED DENNIS SCHWARTZ