Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corporation
Distributed: Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corporation, October 8, 1937
Production: June 10 to mid-July 1937
Copyright: Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corporation, October 22, 1937; LP7817
Opened: Central, New York, N.Y., the week of September 18, 1937
Sound: Western Electric Mirrophonic Recording
Film: Black and white
Length: 7 reels; 6,215 feet
Running Time: 65 minutes
Production Code Administration Certificate Number: 3570
Source: “Based on the character ‘Charlie Chan’ created by Earl Derr Biggers”
Director: Eugene Forde
Associate Producer: John Stone
Screenplay: Charles Belden and Jerry Cady
Photography: Harry Jackson
Art Direction: Lewis Creber
Assistant Director: Samuel Schneider
Film Editor: Al DeGaetano
Sound: George P. Costello and Harry M. Leonard
Musical Direction: Samuel Kaylin
Original Story: Art Arthur, Robert Ellis, and Helen Logan
CAST (as credited):
Warner Oland: Charlie Chan
Keye Luke: Lee Chan
Joan Marsh: Joan Wendall
J. Edward Bromberg: Murdock
Douglas Fowley: Johnny Burke
Harold Huber: Inspector [James] Nelson
Donald Woods: Speed Patten
Louise Henry: Billie Bronson
Joan Woodbury: Marie Collins
Leon Ames: Buzz Moran
Marc Lawrence: Thomas Mitchell
Tashia Mori: Ling Tse
Charles Williams: Meeker
Eugene Borden: Louie
UNCREDITED CAST (alphabetical):
Victor Adams: Gangster
Norman Ainsley: Steward
Sam Ash: WaiterJames Blaine: Detective
Esther Brodelet: Dancer
Don Brodie: Reporter
Harry Burns: Policeman
Allan Cavan: Doorman
Lon Chaney, Jr.: Desk Reporter
Jack Clifford: Detective
Harry Depp: Candid Camera Snapper
Lester Dorr: Photographer
Jack Dougherty: Policeman
Eddie Dunn: Policeman
Carl Faulkner: Policeman
Sidney Fields: Porter
James Flavin: Detective
Allen Fox: Reporter
George Guhl: Smitty, Policeman
Charles Haefeli: Pickpocket
Creighton Hale: Reporter
Sherry Hall: Reporter
Chuck Hamilton: Policeman
Beulah Hutton: Telephone Operator
William Jeffrey: Coroner
Kenner G. Kemp: Candid Camera Photographer at Hottentot Club
Robert Lowery: Reporter
Robert Middlemass: Police Official
Art Miles: Porter
Philip Morris: Customs Officer
Billy O’Brian: Copyboy
Paddy O’Flynn: Photographer
Henry Otho: Detective
Franklin Parker: Reporter
George Regas: Hindu
Cyril Ring: Candid Camera Photographer at Hottentot Club
Don Rowan: Policeman
Gloria Roy: Hat Check Girl
Lee Shumway: Policeman
Edwin Stanley: Laboratory Expert
Monte Vandergrift: Detective
Blue Washington: Doorman at Hottentot Club
Billy Wayne: Reporter
Allen Wood: Bellhop
On an ocean liner approaching New York, a man tries unsuccessfully to steal a small package hidden in a woman’s stateroom. The woman, fearing that there will be another attempt to steal the package, hides the package in the baggage of Charlie Chan and his son Lee who are staying in the stateroom next to hers.
In New York, newspaper reporter Speed Patten slips into a cab with the woman, whom he knows as Billie Bronson, who, one year ago, had disappeared from New York. She promises to meet him at her hotel at midnight if he will keep quiet about her return to New York. As Speed reports the potential story to his editor, Murdock, the latter receives a phone call from Bronson who demands twice the amount that the editor had been willing to pay a year ago for important information that she had. He agrees to meet with her that night at 10:30.
Billie bribes a bellhop for a key to Chan’s room. As she is attempting to enter, she is spotted by Lee. Claiming that she had mistaken Charlie and Lee Chan’s room for her own, a suspicious Lee later follows her to the Hottentot Club, owned by racketeer Johnny Burke.
At the club, mobster Buzz Moran warns Billie to get out of town before morning, after which she goes to Burke’s office. Meanwhile, Speed, who has come to the club with photographer Joan Wendall, follows Burke to meet Billie. Billie accuses Burke, her former lover, of giving her the runaround because of his involvement with Marie Collins, a dancer at the Hottentot Club, and pulls a gun on him as Marie opens the door.
Later, during a police banquet that is being given in honor of Charlie Chan, Inspector Nelson gets word that Billie Bronson has been murdered at the Hottentot Club and that Lee Chan is being held as a suspect. Excusing himself, Chan hurries to the club with Inspector Nelson.
After arriving at the club and assessing the situation, Nelson orders Lee’s release and questions Speed, Burke, Marie, and Joan. In Burke’s office, where the murder occurred, Chan notices that a napkin has been placed over a tray is not present in a photograph that Joan Wendall had taken moments after the murder. Suddenly, Louie, Burke’s “associate,” turns out the lights. During the ensuing scuffle and resulting confusion, Burke escapes. When the lights are turned back on, Chan notes that a key that was plainly visible in Wendall’s photograph is missing. Using a magnifying glass to examine the photographic image more closely, Chan discovers that the missing key belongs to his hotel room.
Quickly, Chan, Lee, and Nelson go to Chan’s hotel room, where they have trouble opening the door, which is blocked by the body of a murdered man. The dead man is the same person who had tried to steal the package from Billie Bronson on the boat. Marie Collins then enters the room and is shocked to see the body of her estranged husband Thomas Mitchell. On the floor, Chan finds a crumpled page from a diary, which, he realizes, Mitchell was after.
Suddenly Lee remembers something. He tells Chan that Bronson had earlier told him that her room was directly above theirs on the next floor. Upon hearing this, Chan and Nelson hurry upstairs to Billie’s room where they find Murdock. Murdock explains that he was there to buy Bronson’s diary which, he says, contains incriminating information regarding individuals involved in corruption and racketeering in New York City.
The next day, with the city’s newspapers ablaze with the news of the murders the night before, Burke is confronted by Buzz Moran. Burke knocks Moran to the floor. As Burke runs from the room, Moran fires a shot at him but misses. Deciding to turn himself in, Burke, accompanied by his lawyer, Meeker, goes to police headquarters. There, he is given a paraffin test whether there are any traces of gunpowder on his hands. The test proves to be negative, and Burke is released. Chan reminds Nelson that the missing napkin may have been used to cover the gun, warning Burke that he is still under investigation.
Burke, returning to his office and finding Lee there trying to reconstruct the murder with Ling Tse, an employee of the Hottentot Club, punches Lee, giving him a black eye. Lee hits him back, before being thrown out of the club. Fearing that Charlie Chan has sent his son Lee to snoop around his office, Burke decides to leave town, but is caught at the airport along with Marie. He is taken back to his office where Murdock and Moran are also brought.
Chan, Lee, Speed, Joan, and Nelson also arrive at Burke’s office above the Hottentot Club, where Chan reveals that Mitchell was trying to get Billie Bronson’s diary and use the information contained within its pages to ruin Burke who had stolen his wife. Telling Murdock that the police have been monitoring his mail and that they know he has received a special delivery letter, Nelson forces the editor to hand it over. When the envelope is opened, a page of the missing diary is found inside stating that Speed Patten had used his newspaper job as a cover for blackmailing. Outraged, Speed states that the page is an obvious phony. At this point, Chan accuses him of murder, explaining that only the person who had the actual diary – the murderer – could tell that the page in the envelope was a forgery. Chan then relates that he had first suspected Patten when his newspaper account of the Bronson murder had noted that Billie was shot in the back, a fact that had only been known by the police and the murderer. The detective then reveals that he and Inspector Nelson had sent the phony diary page to Murdock in order to draw Speed out.
Speed Patten pulls out a gun and confesses that he killed Billie Bronson because she was going to go to the district attorney with the diary, which implicated him. He then found Mitchell with the diary and killed him. As Patten is about to shoot Chan, Lee jumps him, and in the struggle, Speed is disarmed and captured.
Later, while Chan, Lee, and Inspector Nelson are riding in a car together through the streets of New York, Nelson invites the father and son to be his guests and see the city. As an enthusiastic Lee takes off his sunglasses, revealing that he now has two black eyes, Charlie Chan says, “Evidently, Broadway very hard on eyes.”
NOTE: Thomas Beck is listed as a cast member in early Hollywood Reporter cast charts, but his participation in the final film is doubtful.
Adapted from: AMERICAN FILM INSTITUTE CATALOG – Within Our Gates: Ethnicity in American Feature Films, 1911-1960
CHARLIE CHAN’S APHORISMS
Keep eyes open and mouth shut.
Etiquette ignored when lady in distress.
Police in New York and Honolulu have one thing in common – both live on very small island.
Position of body sometime give solution of murder.
Camera remember many things human eye forget.
No poison more deadly than ink.
Murder case like revolving door – when one side close, other side open.
Snooping very dangerous business.
Triangle very ancient motive for murder.
To know forgery, one must have original.
OTHER WORTHY STATEMENTS:
(Lee: “Gee, Pop, you sure missed a great luncheon!”) Contradiction, please. Not having eaten, have missed nothing.
(Lee: “I had turtle soup, Chicken a la King, and three cream puffs. Then I had some ice cream…”) Mention of food more painful than surgeon’s knife without anesthetic.
(Lee: “Shall I get you some medicine, Pop?”) Good dose of land is only effective medicine.
(Lee: “The bulletin board says we’ll dock at four o’clock this afternoon.’) Only sight of dock can renew interest in life.
Please put muffler on peanut whistle (To Lee, regarding his whistling)
One cabin too small for two detectives. (To Lee)
Am unworthy of so great honor. Will feel like sparrow perched on limb with peacocks. (To Inspector Nelson at the prospect of attending a police banquet in his honor)
New York English too baffling for humble detective. (To Inspector Nelson)
Please keep eyes open and mouth shut. (To Lee)
One room still too small for two detectives. (To Lee)
New York like mouth of great river. Many reefs in channel to wreck small sightseeing boat from Honolulu. (To Lee before handing him a $20 bill)
Save breath for lamentations. (To Lee, after the $20 bill is promptly stolen by a pickpocket)
Police of New York and Honolulu have one thing in common – both live on small island. But, while we have big volcano, you have biggest “shake-up.” (To the assembled New York police officers at the banquet honoring Chan)
Missing key may fit door to solution. (To Inspector Nelson, regarding a key missing from the murder scene)
Reluctantly confess, he is portion of posterity. (To a police officer acknowledging his son Lee)
Mud of bewilderment now beginning to clear from pool of thought. (To Inspector Nelson)
Have hit tack on cranium. (To Lee)
Regret slow progress of thought, but rejoice at final arrival. (To Inspector Nelson, regarding Lee’s tardy revelation of important information)
Proof of alibi now locked behind dead lips of murdered girl. (To Murdock)
Puppy Detective perhaps now realize snooping very dangerous business. (To Lee)
(Inspector Nelson: “Well, thanks to you, Charlie, there’s the baby that’s going to sweep Broadway cleaner than it’s been since the Indians sold it!”) Most happy to have placed new broom into hands of Father Knickerbocker.
Evidently Broadway very hard on eyes. (Regarding Lee’s two black eyes)
JOAN WENDALL’S “CHANISM”:
As Mr. Chan would say, “One picture worth ten thousand words.”
LEE CHAN’S “CHANISM”:
Pop says, “One woman’s intuition better than ten scientists.”
CHARLIE CHAN’S POLICE BANQUET SPEECH
“Police in New York and Honolulu have one thing in common – both live on very small island. But, while we have big volcano, you have biggest ‘shake-up.’ Someday hope to greet honorable brothers in Hawaii, where roar of surf replace noise of subway, and hot rhythm of Broadway cooled by strains of ‘Aloha.'”
Variety, September 22, 1937
Newest entry into the Charlie Chan Chinese sleuth series fits alongside of the better ones. It holds more than usual for the metropolitan audiences because of having a New York locale and concerned with graft in the big town. Film provides an opportunity for the Oriental Sherlock to perform his deductions while a guest of the N.Y. police force. Good for locations where others in this series played.
Running through the clever detective manipulations of Charlie Chan are bright situations, subtle and roughshod comedy, and pointed action. Chan uncovers the least suspected scandal column writer as the killer of two people mixed up in the big city’s mob. Writers have permitted several in the cast to be placed under the cloud of suspicion without closing all doors to the entrance of other suspects.
Producers have wisely kept Chan’s son in the series, making him a foil for his father’s shrewd nifties. But at the end, it is the aspiring offspring who is equal to the emergency and thwarts a third murder.
Some of the plausible deductions, such as tracing the killer suspect through his antedated knowledge shown in his gossip column, lend more credulity than usual to this typical yarn. A field day for candid camera bugs in a night club also has been made use of to forward the plot.
Art Arthur, Robert Ellis and Helen Logan have combined forces on the original story with Charles Belden and Jerry Cady doing a bang-up job in transferring it to the screen. The swiftly paced dialog in the modern manner is also a credit to the latter pair.
Chan is again faithfully personified by Warner Oland, with just as much interest as ever being shown to his clever portrayal. Keye Luke again is the effervescent son, with the lad even better than before if only because he does more things in his usual enthusiastic style. Joan Marsh makes a pert candid-camera, freelancer among the dailies, though the slight love interest she shows for the columnist is blotted out at the close. Harold Huber’s conception of a police inspector is crisp and characteristic if a little too brusque, Donald Woods as the scandal scribbler is energetic if nothing else. Too blatant for true-to-life portrayal, and he often mixes a stilted English accent with his slang.
A long list of supporting characters is topped by J. Edward Bromberg, as the tabloid managing editor; Leon Ames, as the gangster chief; Louise Henry, as a mob moll who is bumped off early; Joan Woodbury, as a nightclub dancer, and Douglas Fowley, as night club operator and gangster assistant. The Woodbury girl shows possibilities because having a combo of looks and acting ability.
Production values are plenty in evidence, with even the nitery entertainment having some semblance of naturalness. Eugene Ford has directed with intelligence, and never lets up on the early fast tempo.
LOCATIONS: Aboard ship, approaching New York City and New York City
PROBABLE DATE: Late August-early September 1936 (Charlie Chan and son Lee are probably returning home following the Olympic Games in Berlin [“Charlie Chan at the Olympics”] and a trip together through several locations in Europe.)
DURATION: Two days
THE SHIP SHOWN WHICH WAS TAKEN BY CHARLIE CHAN AND SON, LEE, FROM EUROPE TO NEW YORK CITY: S.S. Champlain, which began service in 1932. At that time, the French Line Champlain was the largest, fastest, and most luxurious cabin-class ocean liner in the world.
FOODS EATEN BY LEE CHAN AT LUNCHEON AS NOTED TO HIS SEASICK POP: “I had turtle soup, Chicken a la King, and three cream puffs. Then I had some ice cream…”
SCHEDULED DOCKING TIME FOR THE SHIP, ACCORDING TO LEE: “…four o’clock this afternoon.”
ASPIRIN SEEN ON THE TABLE IN BILLIE BRONSON’S STATEROOM: “Bayer Tablets Aspirin”
THE NAME OF THE SEASICK MEDICINE USED BY CHARLIE CHAN: Mother Nature’s Seasick Remedy
SEVERAL HOTEL TOWELS “COLLECTED” BY LEE THROUGHOUT EUROPE, AS NOTED BY CHARLIE CHAN: “Hotel Sheffield, Château Paris, Rhine Inn…”
BILLIE BRONSON’S STATEROOM NUMBER: A20THE NEXT INTENDED DESTINATION, AFTER NEW YORK, OF CHARLIE CHAN AND SON LEE ON THEIR WAY BACK HOME TO HONOLULU, ACCORDING TO LEE: “We leave for San Francisco in the morning.”
ACCORDING TO THE SIGN ABOVE THE PIER GATE OUTSIDE OF THE SHIP TERMINAL, THE PIER WHERE CHARLIE CHAN’S SHIP DOCKED: Pier 178-180THE NAME OF THE POLICE OFFICER ASKED BY INSPECTOR NELSON FOR AN APPROPRIATE SONG FOR THE BAND TO PLAY IN HONOR OF CHARLIE CHAN: Smitty
SMITTY’S RANK: Sergeant
THE NAME OF THE SONG SUGGESTED BY SMITTY: Chinatown, My Chinatown
THE POSTED RULE AT THE DOCKS BLATANTLY IGNORED BY INSPECTOR NELSON: “No Smoking”
THE NAME OF THE LINE THAT OPERATED THE SHIP USED BY CHARLIE CHAN: Green Star Line
QUESTIONS ASKED BY REPORTERS OF THE MAHARAJA, AND HIS RESPONSES, AT THE DOCK:
First Reporter: “Is it true that you intend racing Indian King in Saratoga?” (no response)
First Reporter: “How do your horses always win the races?” (Maharaja: “They run faster.”)
Second Reporter: “How many wives have you?” (Maharaja: “More than Ali Baba had thieves.”)
Second Reporter: “Do you think you’re going to like New York?” (Maharaja: “If it’s one-half as ridiculous as I’ve heard, I should.”)
Second Reporter: “How long do you expect to remain in the United States?” (Maharaja: “Well, I don’t know.”)
First Reporter: “Did you bring all of your stable with you?” (no response)
ACCORDING TO REPORTER SPEED PATTON, THE NEWSPAPER FOR WHICH HE WORKED: “…the Bulletin.” (New York Daily Bulletin)
ACCORDING TO INSPECTOR NELSON, WHEN BILLIE BRONSON LEFT NEW YORK FOR EUROPE: “A year ago…”
CHARLIE CHAN AND SON LEE’S HOTEL: Carlton Hotel
THE NAME OF THE CAB COMPANY ON THE TAXICAB USED BY BILLIE BRONSON (AND SPEED PATTON): Sunshine
ACCORDING TO SPEED PATTON, THE NAME OF THE INDIAN MAHARAJA WHO WAS INTERVIEWED AT THE DOCK: “…the Maharaja of Radfa…”
ACCORDING TO SPEED PATTON, THE STORY THAT HE WAS WORKING ON: “I got a swell human interest yarn on the Maharaja of Radfa today.” (for the Sunday edition)
THE FEE DEMANDED OF MURDOCK BY JOAN WENDELL FOR HER EXCLUSIVE PHOTOGRAPH OF BILLIE BRONSON: “A hundred bucks.”
THE OFFER MADE BY MURDOCK FOR THIS PHOTO: “I’ll give you fifty dollars.”
THE RIVAL NEWSPAPER NEWSPAPER THAT JOAN WENDELL SUGGESTED WOULD BE INTERESTED IN HER PICTURE: “…the Times.”
THE AMOUNT PAID FOR THE PHOTO: $100
ACCORDING TO BILLIE BRONSON, THE LAST TIME SHE AND MURDOCK HAD DISCUSSED A “LITTLE DEAL”: “…about a year ago…”
BILLIE BRONSON’S DEMAND REGARDING THE COST NOW FOR THE BULLETIN TO PURCHASE HER DIARY: “…it’s going to cost you twice what you offered last time.”
THE TIME, ACCORDING TO MURDOCK, OF BILLIE BRONSON’S SCHEDULED MEETING WITH HIM AT HER HOTEL: “…11:30 tonight.”
THE NAME OF THE NIGHTCLUB OWNED BY JOHNNY BURKE: Hottentot Club
CHARLIE CHAN’S ROOM NUMBER AT THE CARLTON HOTEL: 313
CLOTHING ITEM “BORROWED” BY LEE FROM HIS POP: A collar button
THE AMOUNT OF MONEY THAT LEE HAD ON HIM TO “SEE THE TOWN”: “…one buck…”
THE AMOUNT OF THE ALLOWANCE ADVANCED BY CHARLIE CHAN TO HIS SON LEE: $20
THE NAME OF THE HOTEL REQUESTED OF THE TAXI DRIVER BY CHARLIE CHAN (WHERE THE POLICE BANQUET IN HIS HONOR WAS TO BE HELD): Astor Hotel
THE COMPANY NAME OF THE TAXICAB USED BY CHARLIE CHAN: Sunshine
BILLIE BRONSON’S ROOM NUMBER AT THE CARLTON HOTEL: 413
THE TAXICAB COMPANY OF THE CAB USED BY LEE TO REACH THE HOTTENTOT CLUB: Sunshine
THE SIGN OUTSIDE OF THE HOTTENTOT CLUB:
THE ITEMS SOLD BY PHOTO GIRL LING TZE AT THE HOTTENTOT CLUB, AS STATED BY HER: “Flashlights, bulbs, film.”
THE PRICE OF A “FLASHLIGHT” AT THE HOTTENTOT CLUB: 50 cents
THE NAME OF THE HAT CHECK GIRL AT THE HOTTENTOT CLUB: Gloria
THE HOTTENTOT CLUB’S “RULES OF THE HOUSE” AS EXPLAINED TO LEE BY THE DOORMAN: “…no gentlemen allowed in without a lady friend.”
BUZZ MORAN’S DRINK OF CHOICE: Milk
ACCORDING TO THE CORONER, THE CAUSE OF BILLIE BRONSON’S DEATH: “The bullet entered the back just below the left shoulder blade, passed through the right ventricle, and was probably stopped by a bone.”
THE APPROXIMATE LENGTH OF TIME, ACCORDING TO THE CORONER, SINCE BILLIE BRONSON HAD BEEN KILLED: “About half an hour ago.”
ACCORDING TO THE NEW YORK POLICE OFFICER, THE TYPE OF GUN THAT HAD BEEN USED TO KILL BILLIE BRONSON: “…a .25 caliber automatic…”
THE ITEMS THAT WERE MOVED IN JOHNNY BURKE’S OFFICE, ACCORDING TO JOAN WENDALL’S PHOTOGRAPH: The telephone receiver was placed back on the phone, a handkerchief was missing, a key was missing from the contents that were spilled from Billie Bronson’s purse on the floor.
THE NAME OF THE NEW YORK POLICE OFFICER TOLD BY INSPECTOR NELSON TO TURN THE LIGHTS BACK ON IN JOHNNY BURKE’S OFFICE DURING THE SCUFFLE: Mack
ACCORDING TO INSPECTOR NELSON, THE CONDITION OF THOMAS MITCHELL’S BODY, WHICH WAS FOUND IN CHARLIE CHAN’S ROOM: “Stabbed through the ribs, and not over a couple of minutes ago, either.”
THE PARTIAL TEXT OF THE CRUMPLED PAGE FROM BILLIE BRONSON’S DIARY THAT WAS FOUND IN CHARLIE CHAN’S ROOM:
ACCORDING TO INSPECTOR NELSON, THE LENGTH OF TIME SINCE BILLIE BRONSON WAS KILLED: “…an hour ago…”
THE TIME, ACCORDING TO MURDOCK: “It’s now…twenty minutes of eleven.”
FROM THE ABOVE INFORMATION, THE APPROXIMATE TIME OF BILLIE BRONSON’S MURDER: 9:40 p.m.
THE SUPERIMPOSED NEW YORK DAILY BULLETIN HEADLINE AND STORY:
MURDOCK’S STATED (CHANGED) APPOINTMENT TIME WITH BILLIE BRONSON: 10:30 p.m.
THE PERSON WHO TELEPHONES JOHHNY BURKE: Meeker, his lawyer.
THE SUPERIMPOSED NEW YORK DAILY STAR HEADLINE AND STORY:
THE SUPERIMPOSED NEW YORK GLOBE HEADLINE AND STORY:
THE NEW YORK DAILY BULLETIN HEADLINE AND STORY:
THE NEW YORK GAZETTE HEADLINE AND STORY:
THE CONCLUSION OF SPEED PATTON’S STORY, AS READ TO JOAN WENDELL:
“…and, though almost 24 hours have elapsed since Billie Bronson and Thomas Mitchell were murdered, the police have discovered nothing tangible enough to justify an arrest. All they have is a torn diary page found by Charlie Chan, which they consider an excellent clue, but in the opinion of this observer, it only indicates the work of a perfect criminal, so clever and daring, that he has deliberately planted it to obtain free publicity for a terrific blackmailing scheme. This may be a subtle way of warning certain people in New York that he has this dynamite diary and that he is ready to light the fuse. I wonder if Johnny Burke is the only racketeer whose blood pressure will remain high as long as the Bronson diary and its unknown possessor are in circulation.”
THE TEST SUGGESTED BY CHARLIE CHAN: Paraffin test
ACCORDING TO CHARLIE CHAN, THE LENGTH OF TIME THAT GUNPOWDER STAINS REMAIN ON A SHOOTER’S HAND: “…72 hours.”
THE CHEMICALS MENTIONED BY THE NEW YORK POLICE CHEMIST WHICH REACT TO THE PRESENCE OF GUNPOWDER: “A solution of diphenylamine and sulfuric acid which reacts instantly to nitrates.”
INSPECTOR NELSON’S COMMENT TO JOHNNY BURKE REGARDING THE ABOVE TEST: “…if they turn blue, your goose is cooked.”
INSPECTOR NELSON’S OFFICE NUMBER AT POLICE HEADQUARTERS: 21
JOHNNY BURKE’S PLANNED DESTINATION TO “LAY LOW UNTIL THE HEAT’S OFF”: Chicago
INSPECTOR NELSON’S DEPARTMENT: Central Bureau
THE TEXT OF THE SUPPOSED PAGE FROM BILLIE BRONSON’S DIARY AS READ BY INSPECTOR NELSON:
“May 7: Was up all night on a big party Johnny swung for lieutenant “R.” of the Central Bureau when…”
“He’s retiring from the force because the Commissioner got wise to him. The big dummy showed everyone a diamond watch Buzz Moran gave him for certain important tip-offs that Johnny told me about. It was sure funny to see everybody kowtow to Johnny and Buzz. I guess they don’t know that the double-crosser who used his newspaper job as a cover-up for the black-mailing he pulls is SpeedPatton, the smoothest guy in the rackets.”
aloha – (Hawaiian) An acknowledgment that can be used to say hello or goodbye. Other meanings include love, compassion, and a profound spirit of welcome.
Charlie Chan: “…where roar of surf replace noise of subway, and hot rhythm of Broadway cooled by strains of ‘Aloha.'”
angle – (Slang) A devious method; a scheme.
Reporter: “Yeah, what’s the new angle?”
bigwigs – (Slang) Very important persons.
Inspector Nelson: “The bigwigs expect you to tear a duck apart with them tonight.”
burn – To execute by electrocution.
Johnny Burke: “They’ll never burn me for that.”
camera hounds – (As used) Amateur camera enthusiasts.
Inspector Nelson: “Those ain’t reporters, they’re worse – camera hounds.”
Chicago fire – A disastrous fire that broke out on October 8, 1871, destroying much of the city of Chicago.
Murdock: “It’ll make it hotter than the Chicago fire.”
clean bill – (As used) No evidence found to indicate guilt.
Reporter: “Did you give Burke a clean bill?”
crossed up – (Idiom) To have ruined or confused.
Speed Patten: “Yeah, but you crossed me up.”
D.A. – District Attorney.
Speed Patten: “…but does the D.A. know it?”
dame – (Slang) A woman.
Inspector Nelson: “…a year ago, that little dame was so hot she had to skip the country.”
diphenylamine – A colorless crystalline compound used as a stabilizer for plastics and in the manufacture of dyes, explosives, pesticides, and pharmaceuticals.
Police Chemist: “A solution of diphenylamine and sulfuric acid which reacts instantly to nitrates.”
do the town – (Idiom) To experience a city’s nightlife.
Billie Bronson: “Well, you look like you’re all dressed up to do the town tonight.”
dough – (Slang) Money.Billie Bronson: “No, Johnny, you fooled me long enough, cutting down my dough so I didn’t have enough money to buy a ticket back home.”
ducky – (Slang) Fine; excellent.
Inspector Nelson: “Well that’s just ducky!”
Father Knickerbocker – Father Knickerbocker became a symbol for New York City in the early 1800s following the publication of Washington Irving’s satirical “History of New York,” which Irving attributed to “Diedrich Knickerbocker.” A round, 17th-century Dutch character, Father Knickerbocker reminded New Yorkers of their Colonial past. Wearing knickers, buckled shoes, and a white beard, Father Knickerbocker has been illustrated and depicted in many ways, often symbolizing changes in the city’s politics. The image of Father Knickerbocker, a reminder of old New York, was prevalent until the 1950s when the modern city had securely taken hold. The name survives today, in abbreviated form, in the name of the New York Knickerbockers (“Knicks”) basketball team.
Charlie Chan: “Most happy to have placed new broom in hands of Father Knickerbocker.”
fishing – (As used) Looking for clues or answers
.Johnny Burke: “…he’s just fishin’.”
fresh – Bold and saucy; impudent.
Inspector Nelson: “I knew there was something fresh around here, I thought it was the ocean air.”
Grant’s Tomb – Officially designated as the General Grant National Memorial, Grant’s Tomb stands as a tribute to Ulysses S. Grant, the principal author of Union victory during the Civil War and the 18th president of the United States. Located in Riverside Park in Manhattan, this granite and marble monument is the final resting place of President Grant and his wife, Julia Dent Grant. It is also the second-largest mausoleum in the Western Hemisphere.
Billie Bronson: “I want to see Grant’s Tomb.”
heat– (Slang) (1) An intensification of police activity in pursuing criminals. (2) The police. (Used with the.)
Johnny Burke: “We’ll lay low ’til the heat‘s off.”
honey – (Informal) Something remarkably fine.
Joan Wendell: “…it’s a honey.”
hot – (Slang) Wanted by the police.
Billie Bronson: “I’m not hot anymore, and you know it!”
Hottentot– (1) A Khoikhoin. (2) Any of the Khoisan languages spoken by the pastoral people of Namibia and South Africa.
Billie Bronson: “The Hottentot Club.”
hush money – (Idiom) A bribe paid to keep something secret.
Joan Wendell: “We’ll blow some of this hush money…”
in a jam – (Slang) In a difficult, threatening, or embarrassing position; also, unable to solve a dilemma.
Johnny Burke: “Yeah, yeah, I’m in a jam.”
job – (Informal) A criminal act, especially a robbery.
Buzz Moran: “Everybody but the cops knows he pulled the job.”
joint – (Slang) (1) A cheap or disreputable gathering place. (2) A building or dwelling.
Joan Wendell: “Hey, what’s the idea? I can’t get out of this joint?”
kowtow – (From Chinese) (1) To kneel and touch the forehead to the ground in expression of deep respect, worship, or submission, as formerly done in China. (2) To show servile deference.
Billie Bronson’s supposed diary text, as read by Inspector Nelson: “It was sure funny to see everybody kowtow to Johnny and Buzz.”
lay low– (Idiom) Keep oneself or one’s plans hidden; bide one’s time to act.
Johnny Burke: “We’ll lay low ’til the heat’s off.”
lowdown – (Slang) The whole truth.
Speed Patten: “I’m going to see her tonight and get the lowdown.”
maharaja– (1) A king or prince in India ranking above a rajah, especially the sovereign of one of the former native states. (2) Used as a title for such a king or prince.
Speed Patton: “I got a swell human interest yarn on the Maharaja of Radfa today.”
mouse – (Slang) A discolored swelling under the eye caused by a blow; a black eye.
Inspector Nelson: “Holy mackerel! Look! Another mouse!”
nifty – (Slang) First-rate; great.
Speed Patten: “Looks like Burke pulled a nifty on you.”
on ice – (Idiom) Away from the public. (as used: In jail.)
Inspector Nelson: “And that’s all I need to put that guy on ice.”
on the lam – (Idiom) Running away, especially from the police.
Inspector Nelson: “…a couple of minutes after Burke took it on the lam…”
on the level – (Idiom) Without deception; honest.
Murdock: “How do I know it’s on the level?”
on the spot – (Idiom) In a difficult situation.
Marie Collins: “They had Johnny on the spot…”
paraffin test – A chemical test that is used to indicate the presence of nitrates, which are found in gunpowder.
Charlie Chan: “Perhaps paraffin test better alibi, if negative.”
payoff – (Informal) The climax of a narrative or sequence of events.
Speed Patten: “You mean it’s the payoff?”
pinch – (Slang) To take into custody; arrest.
Detective: “This is a pinch.”
pipe down – (Idiom) To stop talking; quiet down.
Inspector Nelson: “Pipe down!”
rubbed out – (Idiom) Killed, murdered.
Meeker: “I want to know the time Mitchell was rubbed out.”
scoop– (Slang) An exclusive news story acquired by luck or initiative before a competitor.
Speed Patton: “Nice scoop, kid.”
shyster – (Slang) An unethical, unscrupulous practitioner, especially of law.
Inspector Nelson: “Get out of here, Burke, and take that shyster with you!”
slumming– (Slang) to “go out on the town.”
Joan Wendell: “No, just slumming.”
sulphuric acid – A heavy, corrosive, oily liquid, colorless when pure, but usually yellowish or brownish, produced by the combined action of sulfur dioxide, oxygen (from the air), steam, and nitric fumes. It attacks and dissolves many metals and other intractable substances, sets free most acids from their salts, and is used in the manufacture of hydrochloric and nitric acids, soda, bleaching powders, etc. It is also a powerful dehydrating agent, having a strong affinity for water, and eating and corroding paper, wood, clothing, etc. It is thus used in the manufacture of ether, imitation parchment, and of nitroglycerin. It is also used in etching iron, removing iron scale from forgings, in petroleum refining, etc., and in general, its manufacture is the most important and fundamental of all the chemical industries.
Police Chemist: “A solution of diphenylamine and sulfuric acid which reacts instantly to nitrates.”
the finger – (Idiom) (1) To inform on or identify one to the authorities. (2) To designate, especially as an intended victim.
Speed Patten: “It puts the finger right on Burke.”
the runaround – (Idiom) To receive unclear or deceptive information or delayed action in response to a question or request.
Billie Bronson: “You’ve been giving me the runaround because of her!”
took a powder– (Idiom) Having made a quick departure; having run away.
Inspector Nelson: “What were you going to show me when Burke took a powder?”
yarn – (Informal) A long, often elaborate narrative of real or fictitious adventures; an entertaining tale.
Speed Patton: “I got a swell human interest yarn on the Maharaja of Radfa today.”
For a complete glossary list from all films, please visit our Charlie Chan Glossary.