Fox Film Corporation
Distributed: Fox Film Corporation, September 15, 1933
Production: Began mid-July 1933
Copyright: Fox Film Corporation, August 29, 1933; LP4105
Film: Black and white
Length: 8 reels; 6,200 feet
Running Time: 70-71 minutes
Production Code Administration Certificate Number: 1232-R [August 17, 1935]
Source: Based on the novel The House Without a Key by Earl Derr Biggers
Producer: Sol M. Wurtzel
Director: Hamilton MacFadden
Assistant Director: Percy Ikerd
Original Story: Earl Derr Biggers
Screenplay: Lester Cole; Marion Orth
Photography: Ernest Palmer
Camera Operator: Don Anderson (not credited)
Assistant Camera: Stanley Little (not credited); Robert Mack (not credited)
Settings: Duncan Cramer
Editor: Alex Troffey
Musical Direction: Samuel Kaylin
Sound: George Leverett
Assistant Sound: W. T. Brent (not credited)
Still Photography: Cliff Maupin (not credited)
Wardrobe: Sam Benson (not credited)
CAST (As credited in the “Revised Final Shooting Script”):
Warner Oland: Charlie Chan
Heather Angel: Carlotta Eagan
John Warburton: John Quincy Winterslip
Walter Byron: Harry Jennison
Ivan Simpson: T. M. Brade
Virginia Cherrill: Barbara Winterslip
Francis Ford: Captain Hallett
Robert Warwick: Dan Winterslip
Frank McGlynn: Amos Winterslip
Clara Blandick: Minerva Winterslip
Claude King: Captain Arthur Temple Cope
William Stack: James Eagan
Roger Imhoff: The Beachcomber
Gloria Roy: Arlene Compton
Cornelius Keefe: Steve Leatherbee
UNCREDITED CAST (alphabetical):
Frances Chan: Number Three Chan Daughter
Alan Dong: Number Three Chan Son
David Dong: Number Five Chan Son
Frank Dong: Herbert Chan (Number Two Chan Son)
Harry Dong: Number Four Chan Son
Frank Tang: Oswald Chan
Dorothy Hoo: Number One Chan Daughter
Mabel Hoo: Number Two Chan Daughter
Ellen Lim: Number Four Chan Daughter
Brothers Amos and Dan Winterslip discuss Dan’s latest amour, a shady lady named Arlene Compton of whom the moralistic Amos does not approve. Dan, the family ingrate, throws his brother out of his beachside Honolulu house. His sister Minerva arrives with the news that another family member, cousin John Quincy Winterslip, is being sent to Honolulu to bring her back to Boston as, in the conservative family’s opinion, she is having too much fun. Dan sobers when he sees a newspaper item about the arrival to the islands of T. M. Brade.
During a stopover in San Francisco, John Quincy’s Uncle Roger takes him to a house and gives him a strongbox marked “TMB”. Roger instructs him to throw it into the Pacific the next day when his boat is out at sea, as per Dan Winterslip’s orders. While the pair is in the house, a mysterious figure jumps from the shadows and tries unsuccessfully to make off with the box.
Aboard the ship for Honolulu, John Quincy is about to toss the strongbox over the rail, but he is suddenly overcome by an unidentified person who quickly runs off with the box. On deck, Harry Jennison, Dan Winterslip’s lawyer, and Barbara, Dan’s Daughter, who are returning to Honolulu, decide to get married. An excited Barbara sends a radiogram to her father.
Meanwhile, in Honolulu, Dan goes to see Arlene to ask that she return the emerald brooch that he had given to her as a gift. She lies and says that the brooch is being repaired at a jeweler’s and promises to bring it to him later.
That evening, the captain of the passenger ship announces that, since the ship has arrived too late to dock, it must remain at anchor offshore until the next morning. At Dan’s home, Minerva finds a prowler hiding in the shadows. Out of fear, she does not let on to the fact that she is aware of the intruder’s presence, although she notices that the person is wearing a distinctive watch that glows in the dark. After the prowler has left, Minerva discovers Dan dead in his den.
The police are called, and, at the police station, Captain Hallett receives the report of the murder. Hallett immediately calls Charlie Chan who is awakened along with his ample household. Soon, at the crime scene, the doctor reports that Dan was stabbed in the heart and that his arm was broken. Chan questions Minerva, who relates the only identifying characteristic of the intruder that she could make out: the glow-in-the-dark wristwatch, mentioning how she noticed that the numeral two was blurred. She also tells Chan that she remembers a James Eagan of the Reef and Palm Hotel calling repeatedly the day before the murder.
The next morning, at the hotel, Chan and Hewett, who are joined by John Quincy at his own request, are questioning a reticent Eagan who is very insistent on leaving. Chan reminds him that he had had an engagement with Dan that he had canceled. Eagan admits that the two men had met at around 11:00 in Dan’s garden. Eagan, who had not spoken to Dan in twenty-three years, refuses to reveal to Chan the nature of their meeting.
Carlotta, Eagan’s daughter, walks in on the group, having just arrived in Honolulu aboard another ship. She is upset because her father was supposed to have met her at the dock, but she is grief-stricken to find that her father is now a suspect in the murder of Dan Winterslip. Carlotta rebukes John, who has openly stated his feelings of Eagan’s apparent implication in his uncle’s murder.
With her father in police custody, Carlotta must now run the hotel. As she watches the desk, Brade, a guest, informs her that he will be away for a few days. Koahla, Dan’s houseboy, enters with a package for Brade but leaves when he is informed of the latter’s absence. Later, noticing Koahla hiding on the hotel grounds, John attacks him and retrieves the package. He is stunned to find that it contains the strongbox that was stolen from him aboard the ship. Soon, a shot is fired at John, narrowly missing him. Chan arrives, and John gives the box to the detective, who opens it only to find that it is empty.
Later, Amos Winterslip is found dead, and Chan captures a beachcomber who wears a wristwatch matching that described by Minerva. Shortly thereafter, Chan assembles all of the possible suspects at Dan’s house for a final meeting at which he plans to reveal the identity of the murderer. When Chan asks Brade about the box, Brade states that Dan Winterslip had stolen jewels from his father thirty-five years earlier when Dan was a mate on his father’s ship and that he had scrimped and saved for all those years for the chance to reclaim his due. When the emerald brooch, which was found at the crime scene, is produced, both Arlene and Brade claim it. Brade describes matching jewelry that went with the brooch, which Chan soon discovers hidden in a secret compartment in the strongbox.
Chan then produces a check for $5,000 that Dan had made out for Eagan. When Egan still refuses to explain his relationship with Dan, Chan tells Hallett to arrest him. Carlotta cries out at the injustice and admits that she had read her father’s diary, which had told of an incident, thirty-five years earlier, in which Eagan, then a young bank teller in Australia, had changed Dan Winterslip’s South American gold into English pounds. Eagan, being the only man alive who could identify Dan as the thief of Brade’s gold, had tried to blackmail him. Koahla then admits that knowing of Dan’s fear of Brade, had arranged for the theft of the strongbox in San Francisco in order to blackmail Dan.
Chan then has his eldest son, Oswald, bring in Berkeley, another passenger on the boat, and claims that he is the murderer, as water and seaweed which were found at the murder scene prove that someone swam from the ship on the evening in question. Berkeley suddenly tries to make a run for it, but he is caught by Jennison, who breaks his arm in the same fashion that the late Dan Winterslip’s arm had been fractured. Chan dramatically accuses Jennison of being the real murderer, stating that Berkeley was bravely playing an assigned role.
Chan also reveals the content of Dan’s reply to Barbara and Jennison’s radiogram wedding announcement. The message, which had never reached Barbara, contained a warning to Jennison that, unless he broke off the engagement, Barbara would be disinherited and that Jennison’s past misdeeds would be exposed despite an injury to both Jennison and himself. Tan lines on Jennison’s wrist reveal that he is indeed the owner of the watch that Minerva had seen glowing in the dark on the night of the murder. Jennison had lost the wristwatch in the surf as he had begun his swim back to the ship after he had murdered Dan Winterslip. It was on the beach that the beachcomber had found and picked up the watch.
Moments earlier, during Berlekey’s “attempted escape,” Chan had laid his gun on a table in the room. Jennison suddenly grabs the gun and tries to flee while holding everyone at bay with the detective’s gun. However, Chan calmly walks toward Jennison who tries to shoot the detective, but the only sound heard is the click of the empty gun, and Chan easily subdues the murderer.
Later, with the case successfully solved, John and Carlotta embrace contentedly in front of the Reef and Palm Hotel, as Chan and his whole family drive up in their new Ford touring car, a gift from a very grateful Minerva Winterslip.
NOTES: This is one of the four “lost” Charlie Chan films, having been destroyed in the fire that consumed the 20th Century-Fox film storage facility at Little Ferry, New Jersey on July 9, 1937. An illustrated script-based reconstruction of Charlie Chan’s Greatest Case can be viewed in our collection of “lost” Charlie Chan films. The novel upon which this film was based, The House Without a Key, was published in serial form in The Saturday Evening Post between January 24 and March 7, 1925. This was the first novel in which the character Charlie Chan appeared. In 1926, Pathe produced a serial based on the same novel titled, The House Without a Key, which was directed by Spencer Bennett and starring Allene Ray and Walter Miller.
Adapted from: AMERICAN FILM INSTITUTE CATALOG – Within Our Gates: Ethnicity in American Feature Films, 1911-1960
CHARLIE CHAN’S APHORISMS
Like when eating peach – start outside and work to center.
Humbly suggest not to judge wine by barrel it is in.
To be found listening to what is not meant for your ears is to show that you have something to conceal.
Only make haste when catching flea.
Worry not – what is to be is to be – and inscrutable Fates very busy arranging program.
Theories like fingerprints – everybody has them.
Facts and motives lead to murderer.
Every fence have two sides.
Time only wasted when sprinkling perfume on goat farm.
Hasty accuse – leisurely repent.
Law is honest man’s eyeglass to see better.
Sometimes beneath eyes that weep are teeth that laugh.
Wisdom is strong lever to pry knowledge loose.
A soft word does not scratch the tongue.
To conceal oneself from law is like trying to hide in bird cage.
Empty as Robin’s nest in January.
Make haste only when withdrawing hand from mouth of tiger.
Cat who tries to catch two mice at one time, goes without supper.
Luck and inscrutable Fates extremely necessary.
Woman’s tongue like sword that never gets rusty.
Very often circumstantial evidence carry conviction.
Sometimes sad world. Baby cries when born.
Empty gun only kill guilty man.
MRS. CHAN’S APHORISM:
Two lovers in moonlight cast only one shadow.
OTHER WORTHY STATEMENTS:
(Mrs Chan: What’s matter?) Even wisest man cannot tell until disagreeable instrument answered. (To Mrs. Chan, regarding the ringing telephone)
I shall come with speed of wind if my dishonorable car permits. (To Captain Hallett)
(Amos Winterslip: “You cannot live a life of sin, and hope for happiness in the hereafter.”) Profound wisdom, but not helpful at present.
It is my unfortunate lot to look for fingerprints in my profession, but when they appear on pie, they are neither helpful nor tasty. (To the waiter at The All-American Restaurant)
I pay most unwillingly. Anxiously await day when law considers such food major crime. (To the Waiter at The All-American Restaurant)
A most humble chariot but always reliable like model wife. (To John Quincy – regarding his [Chan’s] car)
(Cope: “Are you trying to be funny?”) Funny as man can be about murder.
Herbert, soup is food, not musical instrument. (To his son)
Every fence have two sides. Humbly suggest you tell yours. (To Eagan)
Regret such alibis have habit of disappearing like cheese in vicinity of mouse. (To Cope)
Clues explode in embarrassed face, like loaded cigar. (To Cope and assembled suspects)
(Mrs. Chan: “Two lovers in moonlight cast only one shadow.”) Yes. One shadow now – many shadows later.
Variety, October 10, 1933
Charlie Chan is solving a Honolulu murder this time, one that will provide screen audiences with the desired suspense as well as more than the average amount of comedy such pictures contain. Extremely popular in some parts of the country, the Chan stories having gotten pretty wide circulation, every reason to expect this one will keep up the good work.
All but one sequence, in San Francisco, is laid in Hawaii amidst settings and costuming that is tropical but, in that direction, not overdone. For murder mysteries it’s a pleasant change of locale.
A lengthy and capable cast carries out what the scenario offers. Oland gives his usual smooth performance as the murder-solving sleuth, this time unraveling the stabbing of an island bachelor who has made his dough by foul as well as fair means.
In some respects it is merely tried-and-true deducing but, mingled with comedy, picture stands up nicely. In addition to the laugh content it has more love interest than the average murder yarn.
Photography impressive and continuity good except at the beginning.
Screenland, January 1934
CHARLIE CHAN’S GREATEST CASE (Fox) The amiable Charlie Chan is back again! He tracks down the murderer of the philandering Robert Warwick and between dashes of Chinese philosophy and proverb also paves the way to romance for Heather Angel and john Warburton. Again Warner Oland comes through with an ingratiating performance as the Oriental sleuth. The film moves along at a nice pace, and the cast performs creditably.
POSSIBLE DATE: Summer 1933
DURATION: (Charlie Chan’s involvement in this case) perhaps four days, from a Monday to Friday
LOCATION (DURING CHARLIE CHAN’S INVOLVEMENT): Honolulu, Territory of Hawaii
THE ANCESTRAL HOME CITY OF THE WINTERSLIP FAMILY: Boston, Massachusetts
THE CAUSE OF THE DEATH OF ARLENE COMPTON’S FIRST HUSBAND: Airplane crash
THE NUMBER OF YEARS THAT DAN AND AMOS WINTERSLIP HAD NOT SPOKEN TO EACH OTHER: 30
THE TEXT OF THE NEWSPAPER ARTICLE THAT WAS READ BY DAN WINTERSLIP:
“T.M. BRADE DUE
Next week, from India. comes T.M. Brade, retired British Civil Servant. This is his first visit of the Islands, and is the gratification of a life-long desire.”
THE NAME OF JAMES EGAN’S HOTEL: The Reef and Palm Hotel
THE CITY WHERE ROGER WINTERSLIP RESIDED: San Francisco, California
THE NAME OF THE FERRY THAT JOHN QUINCY WINTERSLIP RODE FROM OAKLAND TO SAN FRANCISCO: Tamalpais
THE NOTATIONS ON JOHN QUINCY’S LUGGAGE: “J.Q.W.” and “Boston”
THE TWO SIGHTS THAT WERE MENTIONED TO JOHN QUINCY AS HE RODE ABOARD THE ‘TAMALPAIS’: The Golden Gate and Mount Tamalpais
ACCORDING TO ROGER WINTERSLIP, THE AMOUNT OF TIME THAT DAN WINTERSLIP SPENT IN SAN FRANCISCO: “He comes over here perhaps for two months a year…”
THE TEXT OF DAN WINTERSLIP’S CABLEGRAM TO ROGER WINTERSLIP:
1438 MONROE ST.,
SAN FRANCISCO, CALIF.
WHEN NEPHEW ARRIVES TAKE
HIM TO MY HOUSE. IN OLD
TRUNK IN ATTIC WILL BE FOUNDS
MALL STRONG BOX MARKED
T.M.B. HAVE HIM THROW IT
OVERBOARD INTO PACIFIC ON
WAY TO HAWAII.
THE LENGTH OF DAN WINTERSLIP’S STAY IN SAN FRANCISCO: Two days
THE STEAMSHIP LINE THAT CAPTAIN COPE TELEPHONED: Anchor Steamship Company
THE SHIP THAT CAPTAIN COPE WAS ORIGINALLY SCHEDULED TO SAIL ABOARD TO HONOLULU: The President Tyler
THE SHIPS AS REQUESTED BY CAPTAIN COPE: “The Matsonia or the Australian boat…”
THE DEPARTURE TIME FOR THE “AUSTRALIAN BOAT” AS STATED BY CAPTAIN COPE: “Tomorrow at noon.”
THE NAME OF THE CAPTAIN OF THE PRESIDENT TYLER: Captain Shane
THE INCENTIVE OFFERED BY MR. HIGGINS TO CAPTAIN SHANE IF THE PRESIDENT TYLER COULD BEAT THE MATSONIA TO HONOLULU: “…I’d give a thousand dollars to the Seamen’s Fund if you could make it.”
THE NATIONALITY OF THE SHIP THAT, ACCORDING TO HARRY JENNISON, HELD THE RECORD FOR THE FASTEST PASSAGE BETWEEN SAN FRANCISCO AND HONOLULU: Japanese
THE TIME, AS STATED BY CAPTAIN SHANE, THAT THE PRESIDENT TYLER MUST REACH HONOLULU HARBOR IN ORDER TO DOCK THAT SAME DAY: “…five o’clock in the evening, (or) we’ll have to lie outside the harbor overnight.”
ACCORDING TO REVEREND UPTON, THE TIME THAT HE KNEW DAN WINTERSLIP: “…forty years ago.”
ACCORDING TO REVEREND UPTON, DAN WINTERSLIP’S OCCUPATION WHEN HE KNEW HIM FORTY YEARS AGO: “He was a blackbirder (in the South Seas).”
INFORMATION, ACCORDING TO REVEREND UPTON REGARDING HIS MEETING DAN WINTERSLIP FORTY YEARS PREVIOUS: “I met him when he was first mate on the Maid of Shiloh.”
THE OWNER OF THE MAID OF SHILOH, ACCORDING TO REVEREND UPTON: “…Thomas Michael Brade”
REVEREND UPTON’S STATEMENT REGARDING BRADE’S DEATH: “Brade died when they were in port, at the Apiang Islands. Dan brought him ashore and buried him.”
THE TYPE OF CAMERA USED BY REVEREND UPTON: Graflex
THE TEXT OF THE WIRELESS MESSAGE SENT BY BARBARA WINTERSLIP TO HER FATHER, DAN WINTERSLIP:
AM ENGAGED TO HARRY JENNISON
DELIRIOUSLY HAPPY HOW ABOUT
BIG PARTY TO WELCOME US AND
GIVE PATERNAL BLESSING LOVE
ACCORDING TO JAMES EGAN, WHERE HE HAD MET DAN WINTERSLIP: “Twenty years ago I was a bank teller in Sydney, Australia. We met there.”
ARLENE COMPTON’S SUGGESTION TO DAN WINTERSLIP FOR A REPLACEMENT FOR THE BROOCH THAT HE WANTED BACK FROM HER: “…that darling emerald necklace we saw in the arcade of the Royal Hawaiian.”
THE CITY WHERE STEVE LEATHERBEE WORKED FOR THE MOB: New York
ACCORDING TO THE QUARTERMASTER, THE DISTANCE OF THE ANCHORED ‘PRESIDENT TYLER’ FROM THE SHORE: “It’s a good two miles.”
THE TIME AS MINERVA WINTERSLIP TELEPHONED THE ROYAL HAWAIIAN HOTEL TO REACH CAPTAIN COPE JUST AFTER HER BROTHER, DAN, IS FOUND MURDERED: 1:20 a.m.
AMOS WINTERSLIP’S TELEPHONE NUMBER: 387
ACCORDING TO THE DOCTOR, THE FACTS OF DAN WINTERSLIP’S DEATH: “Stabbed through the heart. Not been dead an hour. Arm broken…”
ACCORDING TO MINERVA WINTERSLIP, THE TIME OF HER BROTHER DAN’S DEATH: “It happened within two minutes of fifteen past one.”
A DISTINGUISHING FEATURE REGARDING THE ILLUMINATED WRISTWATCH OF THE KILLER, AS NOTED BY MINERVA WINTERSLIP: “…the numeral indicating the hour two, was slightly obscured.”
WHERE MINERVA WINTERSLIP THREATENED TO SEND FOR ASSISTANCE IN ORDER TO SOLVE THE MURDER OF DAN WINTERSLIP: Washington, D.C.
THE TIME, AS NOTED BY CHARLIE CHAN, AS HE SUGGESTS THAT EVERYONE GET SOME SLEEP: “Time rapidly flying to three o’clock (a.m.).”
THE NAME OF THE LITTLE DOG THAT MINERVA WINTERSLIP HAD LOST IN BOSTON, USING THE POLICE OF THAT CITY TO HELP FIND: Abigail
THE TYPE OF CAR DRIVEN BY HARRY JENNISON: A roadster
THE NAME OF THE RESTAURANT WHERE CHARLIE CHAN HAD A PIECE OF PIE: The All-American Restaurant
CHARLIE CHAN’S CAR: An “antiquated Ford” (1919 Model T touring car)
THE TIME BY WHICH, ACCORDING TO JAMES EGAN, HE HAD TO BE AT THE DOCK TO MEET HIS DAUGHTER: “…within five minutes…”
ACCORDING TO CHARLIE CHAN, THE TIME AS JAMES EGAN HAD MET WITH DAN WINTERSLIP AT THE LATTER’S HOUSE: “…sometime after eleven (p.m.)…”
AS STATED BY JAMES EGAN, THE LENGTH OF TIME THAT HE AND DAN WINTERSLIP HAD MET: “We talked a half an hour…”
ACCORDING TO JAMES EGAN, THE LENGTH OF TIME THAT HE HAD LIVED IN HONOLULU: “…twenty-three years…”
BRAND NAME NOTED ON THE “CIGARETTE STUBS” FOUND BY CHARLIE CHAN: Corsican
CHARLIE CHAN’S COMMENT REGARDING “CORSICAN” CIGARETTES: “They are not for sale here on this island.”
THE SHIP ABOARD WHICH CARLOTTA EGAN ARRIVED: The Matsonia
THE LENGTH OF TIME THAT THE MATSONIA HAD BEEN DOCKED, ACCORDING TO JAMES EGAN: “…fifteen minutes…”
WHEN HARRY JENNISON MUST LEAVE FOR CHINA, ACCORDING TO MINERVA WINTERSLIP: “…next week…”
THE LENGTH OF TIME THAT HARRY JENNISON MUST REMAIN IN CHINA, AS STATED BY MINERVA WINTERSLIP: “…(he) will be gone a year.”
AS CLAIMED BY ARLENE COMPTON, THE LAST TIME THAT SHE HAD SEEN DAN WINTERSLIP: “…last Friday.”
HAWAIIAN ISLAND FOR WHICH T.M. BRADE WAS LEAVING “FOR A FEW DAYS”: Maui
THE AMOUNT OF THE CHECK WRITTEN OUT TO JAMES EGAN BY DAN WINTERSLIP: $5,000
T.M. BRADE’S ROOM NUMBER AT THE BEACH AND PALM HOTEL: 14
THE BRAND OF CIGARETTE FOUND BY CHARLIE CHAN IN T.M. BRADE’S ROOM: Corsican
THE BRAND OF THE “CIGARETTE STUB” LEFT BEHIND BY CAPTAIN COPE: Corsican
THE NAME OF THE SHIP THAT, ACCORDING TO CAPTAIN HALLETT, “SAILS THIS MORNING: The President Tyler
THE TIME SET BY CHARLIE CHAN TO HAVE ALL SUSPECTS GATHER AT THE WINTERSLIP HOME: 8:30 p.m.
THE POLICE OFFICERS CALLED BY CAPTAIN HALLET FOLLOWING THE POISON DART ATTACK ON CHARLIE CHAN: Flannigan and Hong Foo
THE MUSICAL INSTRUMENT PROMISED BY CHARLIE CHAN TO ONE OF HIS SONS: A saxophone
ACCORDING TO T.M. BRADE, THE CONTENTS OF THE “FORTUNE” THAT DAN WINTERSLIP HAD KEPT AFTER THE DEATH OF THE FORMER’S FATHER: “…South American gold and jewels.”
T.M. BRADE’S STATED PROFESSION UNTIL HE RETIRED: “…a (British) Civil Service worker in India…”
AS NOTED BY CHARLIE CHAN, THE TWO DISTINCT TYPES OF TOBACCO USED IN “CORSICAN” CIGARETTES: “One extract of Virginian, other of Turkish influence.”
THE TYPE OF TOBACCO PREFERRED BY CAPTAIN COPE: Virginian
THE TYPE OF TOBACCO PREFERRED BY T.M. BRADE: Turkish
MR. BERKELEY’S PROFESSION: Federal Agent
THE TEXT OF THE WIRELESS MESSAGE THAT DAN WINTERSLIP HAD SENT TO HARRY JENNISON:
ABOARD S.S. PRESIDENT TYLER
MANAGE TO BREAK YOUR ENGAGEMENT
WITH BARBARA OR WILL COMPLETELY
DISINHERIT HER. IF NOT WILL EXPOSE
YOU, REGARDLESS OF DAMAGE TO ME.
CHARLIE CHAN’S NEW CAR, A GIFT FROM MINERVA WINTERSLIP: A new (1933) Ford touring car
fag – (Slang) A cigarette.
T.M. Brade: “I gave Eagan here a couple because he said he was famished for a good, homey fag.”
Golden Gate – The straight that is located at the opening of San Francisco Bay. At the time of “Charlie Chan’s Greatest Case,” 1933, the Golden Gate Bridge, which today spans this straight, had not yet been built.
Second Man: “Most of the time we can see the Golden Gate and Mount Tamalpais.”
high hat – A man’s hat having a narrow brim and a tall cylindrical crown, usually made of silk. Also called a top hat.
Carlotta Egan: “What’s in there – a high hat?”
Honolulu – The capital and largest city of Hawaii, on the southeast coast of Oahu. Honolulu’s harbor was first entered by Europeans in 1794. Settlement of the area began in 1816, and the city soon gained prominence as a whaling and sandalwood port. Honolulu has been a major tourist center since the early twentieth century. Population – 1930: 202,807; 1940: 257,696. Honolulu was the home of Charlie Chan and his multitudinous family who lived on the slope of Punchbowl Hill. This city is at least the starting point for a number of adventures, and, in two films, including Charlie Chan’s Greatest Case and The Black Camel (filmed on location), serves as the backdrop for the entire film. Other titles where at least some of the plot, if only implied, takes place in Honolulu include Charlie Chan Carries On, Charlie Chan’s Secret, Charlie Chan at the Race Track, Charlie Chan in Honolulu, Charlie Chan in Reno, and Charlie Chan’s Murder Cruise.
Jake – (Slang) Suitable or satisfactory; fine.
Oswald Chan: “Oh, everything’s Jake.”
jiu jitsu (or jiujitsu) – A Japanese method of self-defense without weapons in which holds and blows are supplemented by clever use of the attacker’s own weight and strength.
Charlie Chan: “It was not difficult to discover your record as champion swimmer and student of dishonorable jiu jitsu.”
lorgnette – A pair of eyeglasses or opera glasses with a short handle.
Barbara Winterslip: “Aunt Minerva once said something like that – but she traded her lorgnette for a ukulele.”
Matsonia – Flagship steamer of the famous Matson Line. For decades, the Matson Line carried passengers to and from Honolulu, Hawaii as well as other locations across the Pacific.
Captain Arthur Temple Cope: “Matsonia or the Australian boat…”
Mount Tamalpais – A picturesque mountain on the opposite side of the bay from the city of San Francisco.
Second Man: “Ever see Mount Tamalpais?”
poppycock – Senseless talk: nonsense. ,
Minerva Winterslip: “This is all poppycock…”
President Tyler – A ship based on the ships named after American presidents of the Dollar Steamship Line (later, the American Presidents Line) that carried passengers to and from Honolulu, throughout the Pacific, and around the world during much of the twentieth century.
Charlie Chan: “A strong swimmer could have left steamship President Tyler.”
Royal Hawaiian – The Royal Hawaiian Hotel, which opened on February 1, 1927, was built by the Matson Navigation Company at a cost of $4 million. Constructed on 15 acres of beautiful Waikiki beach frontage, the luxurious pink Moorish-style hotel was promoted worldwide as a premier visitor destination. The romance that had made Waikiki so attractive in the past contributed to ensuring that the “Pink Palace” was a favorite of both visitors and local residents, which it has remained for decades.
Arlene Compton: “Do you remember that emerald necklace we saw in the arcade of the Royal Hawaiian?”
Skippy– A popular cartoon character created by Percy Crosby in 1923. Script direction notes: He [one of Chan’s small sons] looks like a Chinese Skippy.
ukulele (‘ukulele) – (Hawaiian) A musical Hawaiian string instrument. Literally: “leaping flea,” probably from the Hawaiian nickname of Edward Purvis, who was small and quick and who popularized the instrument brought to Hawaii by the Portuguese in 1879.
Barbara Winterslip: “Aunt Minerva once said something like that, but she traded her lorgnette for a ukulele.”
For a complete glossary list from all films, please visit our Charlie Chan Glossary.