- Charlie Chan at the Circus
Charlie Chan at the Circus Directed by Harry Lachman Produced by John Stone Written by Robert Ellis Starring Warner Oland Cinematography Daniel B. Clark Studio 20th Century Fox Distributed by 20th Century Fox Release date(s) March 27, 1936 Running time 72 minutes
Charlie Chan at the Circus is the 11th film produced by Fox starring Warner Oland as Charlie Chan. A seemingly harmless family outing drags a vacationing Chan into a murder investigation.
Charlie Chan takes his wife and twelve children on an outing to a circus after receiving a free pass from one of the owners, Joe Kinney. Kinney wants Chan to find out who is sending him anonymous threatening letters. Nearly all of the circus workers are suspects, since Kinney is very unpopular. However, when Chan goes to meet him during the night's performance, he finds the man dead, seemingly killed by a rampaging gorilla who somehow escaped from his cage.
Lieutenant Macy takes charge of the investigation, assisted by Chan and his overzealous eldest son Lee, who also takes the opportunity to (unsuccessfully) romance Su Toy (Toshia Mori, credited as Shia Jung), the contortionist. On Chan's advice, Macy lets the circus continue on to its next stop, with the trio tagging along. During the train ride, an attempt is made to murder Chan with a poisonous cobra.
Then someone tries to break into the circus's safe, but nothing is missing. Macy finds a marriage certificate inside, showing that Kinney supposedly married circus wardrobe lady Nellie Farrell in Mexico. However, Kinney's fiancée Marie Norman claims that she can prove Kinney was not in Mexico the day indicated on the certificate. Before she can prove it, during her act, someone shoots one of the ropes of her trapeze swing and she falls to the ground, seriously injured, but still alive.
A doctor is summoned. Chan states that Marie is too badly hurt to move, so the doctor must operate on the spot. Chan asks everyone to keep quiet and clear the area, so as not to cause a potentially fatal distraction for the medical staff during the delicate operation.
Meanwhile, Chan has noticed a newspaper article about a crime committed at a casino the day of Kinney's alleged marriage. He sends his son to phone for a description of the crooks involved from the police. When Lee returns, he sees a man slug the policeman guarding the gorilla's cage and let the ape out again. He struggles with the man, but is knocked out.
The gorilla reaches the tent where the operation is in progress and tries to cause trouble. Fortunately, the operation is a fake, as is the gorilla. He is shot to death by policemen masquerading as doctors. It is revealed to be snake charmer Tom Holt in a costume, trying to pin a second death on the escaped animal. He and Kinney had robbed the casino and hidden out at the circus. However they had had a falling out over the division of the money, leading to Kinney's murder. Nellie Farrell and her brother Dan are also arrested for trying to use a forgery to gain half interest in the circus.
- Warner Oland as Charlie Chan
- Keye Luke as Charlie's Number One Son, Lee Chan
- George Brasno as Colonel Tim, a midget performer at the circus
- Olive Brasno as Lady Tiny, Colonel Tim's midget wife
- Francis Ford as John Gaines, half owner of the circus
- Maxine Reiner as Marie Norman, an aerialist and fiancée of Joe Kinney
- John McGuire as Hal Blake
- Shirley Deane as Louise Norman, Marie's sister
- Paul Stanton as Joe Kinney, the other half owner
- J. Carroll Naish as Tom Holt
- Booth Howard as Dan Farrell
- Drue Leyton as Nellie Farrell
- Wade Boteler as Lieutenant Macy
- Shia Jung as Su Toy, a contortionist (love interest to Lee Chan)
Charlie Chan Creator Novels English-language FilmsThe House Without a Key (1926) • The Chinese Parrot (1927) • Behind That Curtain (1929) • Charlie Chan Carries On (1931) • The Black Camel (1931) • Charlie Chan's Chance (1932) • Charlie Chan's Greatest Case (1933) • Charlie Chan's Courage (1934) • Charlie Chan in London (1934) • Charlie Chan in Paris (1935) • Charlie Chan in Egypt (1935) • Charlie Chan in Shanghai (1935) • Charlie Chan's Secret (1936) • Charlie Chan at the Circus (1936) • Charlie Chan at the Race Track (1936) • Charlie Chan at the Opera (1936) • Charlie Chan at the Olympics (1937) • Charlie Chan on Broadway (1937) • Charlie Chan at Monte Carlo (1937) • Charlie Chan in Honolulu (1938) • Charlie Chan in Reno (1938) • Charlie Chan at Treasure Island (1939) • City in Darkness (1939) • Charlie Chan's Murder Cruise (1940) • Charlie Chan at the Wax Museum (1940) • Charlie Chan in Panama (1940) • Murder Over New York (1940) • Dead Men Tell (1941) • Charlie Chan in Rio (1941) • Castle in the Desert (1942) • Charlie Chan in the Secret Service (1944) • The Chinese Cat (1944) • Black Magic (1944) • The Shanghai Cobra (1945) • The Red Dragon (1945) • The Scarlet Clue (1945) • The Jade Mask (1945) • Dangerous Money (1946) • Dark Alibi (1946) • Shadows Over Chinatown (1946) • The Trap (1946) • The Chinese Ring (1947) • Docks of New Orleans (1948) • Shanghai Chest (1948) • The Golden Eye (1948) • The Feathered Serpent (1948) • Sky Dragon (1949) • The Return of Charlie Chan (aka Happiness is a Warm Clue) (1973) • Charlie Chan and the Curse of the Dragon Queen (1981) Mandarin Chinese-language FilmsThe Disappearing Corpse (1937) · The Pearl Tunic (1938) · The Radio Station Murder (1939) · Charlie Chan Smashes an Evil Plot (1941) · Charlie Chan Matches Wits with the Prince of Darkness (1948) Spanish-language FilmsEran Trece (1931) · La Serpiente Roja (1937) · El Monstruo en la Sombra (1955) Television Other
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