Fox Film Corporation; Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corporation
Distributed: Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corporation, October 11, 1935
Production: July 11 to August 3, 1935
Copyright: Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corporation, October 11, 1935; LP6053
Opened: Roxy, New York, N.Y., the week of October 11, 1935
Sound: Western Electric Noiseless Recording
Film: Black and white
Length: 7 reels, 6,300 feet
Running time: 70 minutes
Production Code Administration Certificate Number: 1255
Source: “Based on the character ‘Charlie Chan’ created by Earl Derr Biggers”
Associate Producer: John Stone
Director: James Tinling
Assistant Director: Aaron Rosenberg (not credited)
Original Story and Screenplay: Edward T. Lowe and Gerard Fairlie
Photography: Barney McGill
Art Direction: Duncan Cramer and Lewis Creber
Film Editor: Nick De Maggio
Gowns: Alberto Luza
Musical Director: Samuel Kaylin
Sound: Albert Protzman
Stunts: Chic Collins, Robert Rose, and Jack Stoney (none credited)
CAST (as credited):
Warner Oland: Charlie Chan
Irene Hervey: Diana Woodland
Charles Locher: Philip Nash
Russell Hicks: James Andrews
Keye Luke: Lee Chan
Halliwell Hobbes: Chief of Police [Commissioner of Police; Colonel Watkins]
Frederick Vogeding: Burke [Ivan Marloff]
Neil Fitzgerald: Dakin
Max Wagner: Taxi Driver
UNCREDITED CAST (alphabetical):
Lynn Bari: Second Hotel Switchboard Operator
Luke Chan: ReporterJack Chefe: Reporter
Frank Darien: Tourist at Versailles Cafe
Harrison Greene: Tourist at Versailles Cafe
Jockey Haefeli: Crook on Boat
Ed Hart: G-ManRussel Hopton: G-Man
Gladden James: Forrest
Collin Kenny: Reporter
William Kum: Porter
Eddie Lee: Servant
James B. Leong: Shanghai Police Telephone Operator
Bo Ling: Lee Chan’s Girlfriend
Pat O’Malley: Beldon
Torben Meyer: French Diplomat
Moy Ming: Mr. Sun Wong
Jimmy Phillips: Reporter
Pat Somerset: Reporter
Harry Strang: Chauffeur
Phil Tead: Reporter
Sam Tong: Waiter
David Torrence: Sir Stanley Woodland
Guy Usher: Shanghai Chamber of Commerce President
Beal Wong: Reporter
Jehim Wong: Ricksha Boy
Walter Wong: Waiter
Joan Woodbury: Exotic Dancer
Before Charlie Chan leaves his boat upon arriving in Shanghai for his first visit in years, supposedly a vacation, a man stuffs a note in his pocket warning him not to leave the ship. At the docks, Chan is greeted by Philip Nash, Sir Stanley Woodland’s secretary, and by Diana Woodland, Sir Stanley’s niece. He is surprised by his son Lee, who was sent by his firm to look into the trade situation there.
At a banquet that evening that is being given in Chan’s honor, Sir Stanley opens a box that supposedly contains a special scroll for the detective. Suddenly, Sir Stanley is shot dead by a gun that had been rigged inside of the box. The box, whose intended victim was Charlie Chan, had been in Nash’s possession all day, and when questioned about this, he stated that he had had no reason to check the box’s contents.
Later that night, a man peers into the window of Chan’s hotel room, and, with a silencer on his gun, shoots the figure in Chan’s bed and flees. Lee, thinking that his Pop has been shot, runs into the room. Moments later, Charlie Chan calmly walks into the room. He shows an amazed and relieved Lee how he had placed pillows under the covers to give the appearance of his sleeping form.
The next day, when Chan calls for room service, the switchboard operator telephones Ivan Marloff letting him hear for himself that the detective is still alive. Chan then visits Diana, and after giving his condolences, learns that during the previous evening, someone had broken into her father’s library and had searched through his papers.
Back at the hotel, Chan is met by a man identifying himself as the chauffeur of Colonel Watkins, the chief of police. He hands the detective a note instructing Chan to accompany the chauffeur. After Chan leaves, Lee receives a telephone call from Colonel Watkins who says that he has not sent for Chan. Realizing the ruse, Lee tries to follow his father, but he is subdued by the driver of his taxi and is taken to the same house where Chan is being interrogated by Marloff, who is hidden in darkness. Chan and Lee trick the gang into believing that the police have followed them to the house. Through quick thinking and Lee’s vigorous fisticuffs, the father and son manage to escape.
Later, Chan visits James Andrews, a special agent from Washington, D.C., and they discuss Sir Stanley, who was a secret agent of the British government, and who had been cooperating with the opium committee of the League of Nations as well as with officials of the Chinese government to round up a gang of opium smugglers who operate out of Shanghai. While the two talks, Nash, now Andrews’ secretary, searches through his belongings in another room.
As Chan and Andrews continue their conversation, Chan glances at a mirror and notices a gun pointing through the door. Chan ducks just as the gun is fired and slams the door shut, thus trapping the weapon in the doorjamb. Nash’s thumbprint is found on the gun, and he is arrested.
Before he leaves, Chan secures a supposedly innocuous letter from Sir Stanley to Andrews that had been marked “important.” Heating the letter back to his hotel room, Chan discovers a hidden message that states that Sir Stanley had made an important discovery concerning Ivan Marloff. Chan thinks it odd and suspicious that earlier Andrews did not feel that the letter held any real importance. However, Andrews arrives at Chan’s room and, holding a cigarette lighter under the letter, reads the secret message.
Chan then goes with Andrews to search the house where he and Lee had been held. While there, Chan discovers an ink stamp pad in the fireplace. They then go to police headquarters where Diana arrives to see Nash. While she visits with him, she slips him a gun, and they both escape.
Returning to his room, Chan finds that Lee has trailed the taxi driver who had earlier abducted him to a waterfront bar called the Versailles Café. Andrews calls Chan, stating that he has captured a member of the gang and has cracked the case. When Chan arrives at Andrews’ room, he sees Andrews beat a confession out of the chauffeur that Marloff is at the Versailles Café. Andrews and Chan leave for the café, where, meanwhile, the fugitive Nash asks Marloff to put him on a boat for America. Calling Nash’s escape from jail a trick that was arranged by Charlie Chan, Marloff hits Nash, knocking him out, and tells his men to drop him overboard once the ship is out at sea.
Upstairs, Chan and Andrews follow the taxi driver into a room where the gang waits, hidden below a trap door. Searching through some boxes, Chan discovers that the wine bottles contain opium. Finding the trap door, Andrews suggests that Chan go below and signal authorities to run the boat to the government dock. Chan, feigning a faulty flashlight, delays his descent until the police, whom Lee has called, arrive and capture the gang after a shootout.
Chan reveals that it was Andrews’ valet who had attempted to shoot Chan earlier and that Nash’s thumbprint was put on the gun with a stamp pad because the gang had felt that he knew too much about Sir Stanley’s investigation. Andrews offers to remove the gang members from the government’s boat, but Chan pulls a gun and accuses him of being the real leader of the gang. Nash had discovered through Sir Stanley’s correspondence that the real Andrews neither smoked nor drank, yet the man posing as Andrews had earlier accepted Chan’s offer of scotch and soda and cigarettes. “You pretend to be G-man,” says the detective, “now turn out to be NG-man.”
Lee arrives with a wire photo of Andrews, who was killed three weeks earlier in San Francisco. Chan then sends Nash to comfort Diana. Although he was earlier annoyed that his son was always tying up the telephone talking with a girl, Chan allows his son one phone call to his female friend, to which Lee, imitating his father, says, “Thank you so much.”
NOTE: Although the character played by Frederik Vogeding is listed as “Burke” in the onscreen credits, he is called “Ivan Marloff” throughout the dialogue of the film.
Adapted from: AMERICAN FILM INSTITUTE CATALOG – Within Our Gates: Ethnicity in American Feature Films, 1911-1960
CHARLIE CHAN’S APHORISMS
Sixty summers young, sixty winters old…brrr.
Idea of making speech bring goose pimples.Holiday mood like fickle girl – privileged to change mind.
Old excuse, like ancient billy goat, has whiskers.
Two ears for every tongue.
Motive, like end of string, tied in many knots; end may be in sight, but hard to unravel.
Only one enemy necessary to commit murder.
Talk cannot cook rice.
Silence best answer when uncertain.
Distance no hindrance to fond thoughts.
Insignificant man has never improved on nature’s tonic.
Dreams, like good liars, distort facts.
Cold omelet, like fish out of sea, does not improve with age.
If answer known, question seem unnecessary.
Hasty conclusion like hind leg of mule – kick backward.
Beauty of poppy conceal sting of death.
Spider does not spin web for single fly.
Long journey always start with one short step.
Owner of face cannot always see nose.
Shot in dark sometime find eye of bull.
Soothing drink, like summer shower, bring grateful relief.
Smart rats know when to leave ship.
Only foolish dog pursue flying bird.
Innocent man does not run away.
Appearances sometimes deceiving, like wolf in lamb’s clothing.
No one knows less about servants than their master.
OTHER WORTHY STATEMENTS:
Most anxious to renew acquaintance with land of honorable ancestors. (To reporters)
Joy equals astonishment of seeing offspring in Shanghai. (To Lee)
Instincts of detective father inherited by noble offspring. (To Lee)
Do not forget your prayers, may need them. (To Lee)
May your honorable ancestors rest in peace. (To Diana Woodland’s servant)
(Lee: “How do you do it, Pop, with mirrors?”) Good for seeing backwards.
(Lee: “…is there something fishy about it?” [Regarding a note sent to Chan supposedly from Shanghai Police headquarters]) Slight odor, perhaps.
Charlie Chan often see enemies in shadow box; now enemies see Charlie Chan. (To Marloff)
Charlie Chan often see enemies in shadow box. Now enemy see Charlie Chan. (To Marloff)
(Marloff: “Just a taste of your own medicine.”) Medicine very bitter.
Answer to question veiled in death. (To Marloff, regarding the reason that Sir Stanley Woodland had asked Chan to come to Shanghai)
Principle of trusting no one make me doubt even you. (To Andrews)
(Andrews: “One man cannot move a mountain, you know.”) But two men can start digging.
You pretend to be G-man, now turn out to be “NG”-man. (To Andrews)
Gave you plenty of rope, you make excellent noose for neck. (To Andrews)
THE SONG CHARLIE CHAN SANG FOR THE CHILDREN
The Song of Princess Ming Lo Fu
Long the journey, hard the way,
But his heart was gay;
For, was he not a prince both strong and brave,
Vowed a princess fair to save?
And he slew the dreadful dragon,
Even cut off his seven heads;
And in his cave he found the princess
Bound to her lowly bed.
Then came they both back to the land
Of the mighty Emperor Fu Manchu,
To claim his reward, the dainty hand
Of lovely Ming Lo Fu
Variety, October 16, 1935
Charlie Chan is in Shanghai this time. Strange that the Chinese detective has never been set there before, but that oversight is patched up very nicely in this film. It’s right in line with the eight previous Chan pictures and should follow along in its okay b.o. [box office] footsteps.
Warner Oland, the merry Swede who has won himself an international rep as a Chinaman, still handles the Chan assignment with competence and ease. This time he’s after a gang of dope smugglers in China.
Keye Luka [sic] is cast as his son and gets in some nice laughs. Charles Locher is the juve and seems to promise screen growth. Other parts are mostly type cast.
After Earl Derr Biggers died last year Fox seemed to be faced with the possible loss of the Chan stories as future screen fodder. They haven’t at all. By assigning others to carry the character on, they’ve got themselves a steady stream of popular material.
Gerard Fairlie and Edward T. Lowe did a fine job on the current episode and Charlie’s future still looks good.
PROBABLE DATE OF CHARLIE CHAN’S INVOLVEMENT: May 7-9, 1935 (Note: Although on the surface, Charlie Chan seems to be at work on this case for only two days, the growth of beard stubble shown on Philip Nash’s face following his “escape” from police headquarters demands that at least one more day, perhaps two, be considered.)
DURATION: Three days
LOCATION: Shanghai, China
THE YEAR OF CHARLIE CHAN’S BIRTH: 1885 (Charlie Chan, referring to himself: “Sixty summers young, sixty winters old.”
ACCORDING TO THE MISSIONARY WHO MET CHARLIE CHAN ON THE SHIP TO SHANGHAI, THE LOCATION OF THE MISSION HE WAS CONDUCTING: “…in the Yang Tze Valley.”
THE NOTE THAT WAS SLIPPED INTO CHARLIE CHAN’S POCKET ABOARD THE SHIP:
THE WORDS ON THE LIFE PRESERVER OF THE SMALL BOAT CARRYING THE REPORTERS AND CHARLIE CHAN: “Victoria – Shanghai”
THIS WAS NOT CHARLIE CHAN’S FIRST VISIT TO SHANGHAI: Reporter: “This is your first visit to Shanghai in many years, isn’t it?” Charlie Chan: “Yes.” (Note: According to the film “The Shanghai Cobra,” Charlie Chan was again in Shanghai, in 1937, as the Japanese bombed that city.)
THE TEXT OF THE SIGN AT CHINESE CUSTOMS: “CHINESE MARITIME CUSTOMS BAGGAGE EXAMINED HERE”
THE AMOUNT OWED BY LEE CHAN TO THE RICKSHAW MAN, ACCORDING TO THE LATTER: “Wu souti” (“Five souti.”)
ACCORDING TO CHARLIE CHAN, LEE’S BUSINESS REASON FOR COMING TO SHANGHAI: “…(to) sell oil for lamps of China.” (Note: This was an in-joke reference to a film that Keye Luke had recently completed titled “Oil for the Lamps of China.”)
THE SPEAKERS AT THE BANQUET HONORING CHARLIE CHAN: Colonel Watkins, Commissioner of Police, Mr. Sun Wong, Charlie Chan, Sir Stanley Woodland
CHARLIE CHAN’S OLD FRIEND: Colonel Watkins (Colonel Watkins: “I count myself lucky to have known Charlie Chan for quite a few years.”) Colonel Watkins knew Charlie Chan from the time he (Watkins) worked at Scotland Yard “at the time of Sir Lionel Bashford’s murder.”
CHARLIE CHAN’S “VERY GOOD FRIEND”: Sir Stanley Woodland (Charlie Chan: “Sir Stanley very good friend.”)
THE CHAN FAMILY PHOTOGRAPH, HELD BY CHARLIE CHAN, AND HIS COMMENT:
“Distance no hindrance to fond thoughts.”
IVAN MARLOFF’S TELEPHONE NUMBER (AS DIALED BY THE HOTEL OPERATOR): 12367
CHARLIE CHAN’S BREAKFAST ORDER: “Will have coffee, rolls, marmalade, and very large omelet – Foo Yung.”
CHARLIE CHAN’S HOTEL ROOM NUMBER: 324
THE DATE OF THE NOTE SENT TO CHARLIE CHAN BY IVAN MARLOFF (POSING AS POLICE COMMISSIONER COLONEL WATKINS): May 8, 1935
THE TYPED NOTE TO CHARLIE CHAN BY IVAN MARLOFF (POSING AS POLICE COMMISSIONER COLONEL WATKINS:
THE TELEPHONE NUMBER OF THE SHANGHAI POLICE COMMISSIONER’S OFFICE: 15380
THE LETTERS ON THE COLLAR OF THE FALSE SHANGHAI POLICE OFFICER: “SMP” (Shanghai Mission Police)
THE WORDS PRINTED ON JAMES ANDREWS’ BRIEFCASE: “James AndrewsWashington D.C.”
THE SHANGHAI LAUNDRY AND ITS LOCATION MENTIONED BY PHILIP NASH TO ANDREWS’ BUTLER: “Soo Low Gow’s” (two blocks away from Andrews’ apartment)
SIR STANLEY WOODLAND’S TYPED NOTE TO AGENT JAMES ANDREWS:
THE DRINK REQUESTED BY ANDREWS: Gin Rickey
SIR STANLEY WOOLAND’S POSITION WITH THE BRITISH GOVERNMENT: Secret agent
THE LEAGUE OF NATIONS COMMITTEE MENTIONED BY ANDREWS: Opium Committee
THE ENVELOPE THAT CONTAINED THE MESSAGE FROM SIR STANLEY:
THE SECRET MESSAGE THAT WAS REVEALED ON THE BACK OF SIR STANLEY’S NOTE:
THE DRINK REQUESTED BY ANDREWS FROM CHARLIE CHAN: Scotch
THE LICENSE PLATE NUMBERS OF NASH’S GETAWAY CAR (TWO PLATES): 3465 and 3720
THE BRAND NAME ON BURNED STAMP PAD: “Excelsior Inking Stamp Pad”
THE “ORDERS” GIVEN BY CHARLIE CHAN TO SON LEE: “Return to hotel. Burn disguise. Study detective book. Watch telephone…and take bath.”
CHARLIE CHAN’S DESCRIPTION OF THE SWITCHBOARD GIRL AT HIS HOTEL: “Very pretty brunette.”
THE CAFE “FRONT” FOR OPIUM GANG: Versailles Cafe
THE NAME BY WHICH NASH WAS KNOWN IN CHAN KING BY ONE OF THE OPIUM GANG MEMBERS: Bolt
(Gang Member: “Well, if it ain’t my old pal from Chan King.”)
THE DIALOGUE OF JAMES ANDREWS ON THE TELEPHONE: “53 reporting on secret assignment file 457-M…”
THE DRINK ORDERED BY CHARLIE CHAN AT THE VERSAILLES CAFE: Sarsaparilla
THE DRINK ORDERED BY ANDREWS AT THE VERSAILLES CAFE: Scotch
THE ORDER PLACED BY THE KIDNAP TAXI DRIVER AT THE VERSAILLES CAFE: “A bottle of whiskey – and two glasses.”
THE TEXT OF THE CABLE FROM WASHINGTON, AS READ BY LEE CHAN:
“ANDREWS, BUREAU OF INVESTIGATION AGENT 53
ASSIGNED TO OPIUM SMUGGLING DETAIL IN SHANGHAI
MURDERED IN SAN FRANCISCO THREE WEEKS AGO.
MURDERER NOT APPREHENDED.”
THE DATE OF THE MURDER OF THE REAL AGENT ANDREWS: Mid-April 1935 (“Three weeks ago” in San Francisco)
bawl out –(Informal) To scold vociferously; reprimand or scold vigorously.
Lee Chan: “…before you bawl me out, Pop…”
cagey – Wary of being trapped or deceived; shrewd; marked by cleverness.
Second Hotel Switchboard Operator: “The old boy’s pretty cagey, he’s checking up on us.”
foo yung (egg foo yung or egg fu yung) – A Chinese omelet containing onions and celery and chopped meat or fish.
Charlie Chan: “Will have coffee, rolls, marmalade, and very large omelet – foo yung.”
Gin Rickey – An alcoholic beverage consisting of a mixture of gin, lime, and carbonated water.
James Andrews: “I’ll join you at noon for a Gin Rickey.”
G-man– Government man. A special law-enforcement agent of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
Charlie Chan: “You pretend to be G-man, now turn out to be NG-man.”
League of Nations – A world organization established in 1920 to promote international cooperation and peace. It was first proposed in 1918 by President Woodrow Wilson, although the United States never joined the League. Essentially powerless, it was officially dissolved in 1946.
James Andrews: “…the Opium Committee of the League of Nations…”
mugs – Thugs, hoodlums.
Lee Chan: “Tell these mugs to lay off me…”
NG – (Abbrevriation) No good.
Charlie Chan: “You pretend to be G-man, now turn out to be NG-man.”
phooey – (Interjection; origin: c. 1925-30) Used to express disgust, disbelief, or contempt.
Lee Chan: “Ah, phooey!”
pip – (Informal) Someone or something wonderful.
Lee Chan: “Yeah, it’s a pip, too.”
sarsaparilla– Any of several tropical American plants of the genus Smilax, having fragrant roots used as a flavoring. The dried roots of any of these plants. A sweet soft drink flavored with these roots.
Charlie Chan: “Sarsapirilla.”
sea legs – The ability to adjust one’s balance to the motion of a ship, especially in rough seas.
James Andrews: “…see if I can get rid of these sea legs.”
Yang Tze – The Yang Tze (or Yangtze) River is one of the world’s great rivers. The Yang Tze valley is home to about one-third of China’s population. Shanghai is known as the gateway of the Yang Tze, and, for two centuries, the Yang Tze has served as a transportation and commercial thoroughfare.
Missionary: “…in the Yang Tze Valley.”
For a complete glossary list from all films, please visit our Charlie Chan Glossary.