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  • gridoon202116 November 2011
    Warning: Spoilers
    "Torchy Blane In Chinatown" is one of the better entries in the series. The plot, involving extortion, pre-announced murders and suspicious Chinese secret cults, may be semi-predictable, but at least it keeps moving. Glenda Farrell gives one of her most energetic performances as Torchy, and she has some of her wittiest lines as well ("What are you doing wandering around a graveyard?" - "Oh skipper, I've been a lost soul ever since you've been neglecting me"). She also ditches the "work clothes" for a while and wears a dress, for the first time in the series if I'm not mistaken. On the other hand, Steve is rather cold to her in this episode, but he redeems himself at the end. **1/2 out of 4.
  • Torchy Blane in Chinatown (1939)

    ** (out of 4)

    The seventh film in the series finds Torchy (Glena Farrell) once again getting in the way as Detective McBride (Barton MacLane) tries to figure out who killing off a group of people with a connection to some valuable Chinese treasures. TORCHY BLANE IN CHINATOWN seems like it would fit the Mr. Moto or Charlie Chan series better but there's no question that this features an interesting story but sadly director William Beaudine can't add any life, energy or excitement to anything we're seeing. The story itself is pretty good and in fact it was interesting enough to make one upset that more wasn't being done with it. This story from Murray Leinster was originally filmed in 1920 and then again in 1930 but I've yet to see either version. The material here actually makes for a good mystery and I especially liked how one never fully understood why the murders were taking place. A great example of this is handled with various cards being left behind at crime scenes telling the cops who will die next. Another benefit this film has is that we're given a pretty strong cast. Farrell is once again highly entertaining and charming in her role. MacLane appears to be tired of his career and bored playing it because he pretty much sleepwalks through the film. The supporting cast is actually good with Tom Kennedy returning for comic relief and we also get Henry O'Neill, Patric Knowles and James Stephenson. What really kills the movie is the bad pacing, poor cinematography and the lack of any real energy. Director Beaudine probably kept the film under budget but he just wasn't able to add anything extra to the story. No matter how good the story is you still still someone to bring it to life and that just never happened.
  • The seventh in the Torchy Blane series and the penultimate one for Glenda Farrell and Barton MacLane. This time our heroes try to foil an extortion plot. As with the last film, this one has a different vibe to it than the first four Farrell movies. The focus isn't mostly on Torchy, but rather the cops and the criminal plot. Great supporting cast that includes Henry O'Neill, Patric Knowles, Frank Shannon, James Stephenson, and Janet Shaw. The regulars - Farrell, MacLane, and Tom Kennedy - are all good.

    This one has a more of a Charlie Chan feel to it, and not because of the Chinese elements. The villains' plot isn't obvious and keeps the viewers (and the dimwitted coppers) guessing. The climax is hilariously offensive, so a point for that, but also has annoying music that doesn't quite fit the on screen action and goes on too long, so deduct a point for that. Worth a look for fans of the series or just B movies in general. But this isn't Torchy Blane at her best.
  • Glenda Farrell really shows up the police department in Torchy Blane In Chinatown. She's got the whole thing figured out long before the cops get wise. Of course interestingly enough the apprehension of the villains themselves is a really good idea cooked up by Barton MacLane.

    Henry O'Neill plays a US Senator who is a collector of Chinese jade and when he purchases some jade death masks he gets threats, the unsigned note threats and in Chinese. Fortunately Patric Knowles is around to translate the threats.

    Their ancestors graves have been defamed, but a little American hard cash will sooth the ancestor's feelings and be good for their descendants as well. It all smells pretty bad, but it's Torchy Blane who catches the right whiff.

    Tom Kennedy as Geohagen once again steals the show. Seeing Kennedy in New York harbor rowing that boat to the final rendezvous was quite a sight.

    If Torchy could figure it out you can too. Even with that the film is still kind of fun. And MacLane comes in handy in the apprehension. You have to see what he uses.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    A hic-cup in the Torchy Blane series, Torchy Blane in Panama (1938), droped the Farrell-MacLane combo in favor of Lola Lane and Paul Kelly. Despite an ingeniously fast-paced script and admirably deft direction by William Clemens, this entry was not popular with audiences who clamored for the restoration of the team, Farrell and MacLane.

    Never one to disappoint the picturegoing public, producer Bryan Foy rushed his original stars into Torchy Gets Her Man (1938). On this excursion, Torchy uncovers the brains behind a counterfeiting racket. Another tightly-written script, another great assembly of top-notch character players, plus - would you believe? - a really outstanding music score.

    Glenda Farrell so enjoyed getting Her Man with director Bill Beaudine who encouraged her to set a new record in speedy dialogue delivery, she specifically asked Bryan Foy to assign him to Torchy Blane in Chinatown (1939). Many critics actually regard this entry as the best in the series. Certainly the support line-up headed by Henry O'Neill, Patric Knowles and James Stephenson surpassed even the highest standards of the other entries.

    Just the presence of James Stephenson alone guaranteed a high audience impact. Stephenson, who was on the verge of major stardom after his riveting performance in The Letter (1940), died in 1941 just as he was about to reach the top. A stage-trained actor with a magnetic personality, rugged yet soulful features and an expressive voice of unique timbre and resonance, Stephenson never gave a less than compelling performance in his life.
  • Fifth in the series of reporter-criminologist Torchy Blane who assists Detective Lieutenant Steve McBride in solving crimes. In this entry, Torchy figures out the solution to the deaths of three prominent men but allows Steve to get the credit at the end and make the collar. If this subservience is not enough, we are subjected to rampant racial stereotyping of Chinese and blacks. Detective Sergeant Gahagan provides comic relief that includes in this film his breaking into poetry from time to time. The film does involve Chinese burial tablets and has a few superficial shots that might have been take on the street of a major city "Chinatown" but the plot does not have anyone going there and doing anything. This version mostly takes place in police stations, at The Adventurers Club, homes, and at sea where a contribution is made by the US Navy. The plot is a remake of the 1920 "The Purple Cipher" and the1930 "Murder Will Out." It involves a combination of revenge murder and blackmail. There are notes to victims passed on Chinese laundry tickets and via additional means. Death comes via a multitude of means and bodies have a habit of disappearing. Fair.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    **SPOILERS** As you would expect fast talking and quick thinking news reporter Torchy Blane, Glanda Ferrell, gets the jump on a gang of Chinese jade thieves with just old fashion police work. Something that her boyfriend police Let.Steve McBride seemed to be totally lacking of.

    With the people involved in smuggling a bunch of valuable Chinese burial jades into the country on a secret hit-list, by persons who's families the jades belonged to, Let. McBride is put on the case to protect their lives and catch their potential murderers. McBride's attempt to keep the killers from doing their dirty work ends in disaster with two of those targeted Allan Fitzhugh, Anderson Lawler, and Dr. Mansfield, James Stephenson, ending up mysteriously murdered. In the case of the unfortunate Allan Fitzhugh he also-besides being gunned down- ends up losing his head over-the jade burial tablets-them.

    **Caution Spoiler** Going to the city morgue to check out the circumstances of Fitzhugh death Torchy finds out, through his fingerprints, that he-or his headless corpse- isn't the person whom the police believe him to be. This murder mystery also gets a bit strange after Dr. Mansfield is later killed by smoking a spiked, by his killers, cigarette which poisons him. Before the meat-wagon, or morgue ambulance, arrives Dr. Mansfield's body mysteriously disappears from sight!

    These double murder now leads to the real person whom the murderers, now turned extortionists, are really targeting Senator H. Baldwin, Henry O'Neill. It's Sen. Baldwin, who owns the worlds biggest Chinese jade collection, whom both the late Allan Fitzhugh and Dr. Mansfield as well as the still alive Capt. Condon, Patrick Knowles were working for in smuggling burial jades out of China.

    The murdering blackmailers try to shake down Sen. Baldwin for a cool $250,000.00 by threatening to crash his daughter's Janet, Janet Shaw, wedding announcement reception, or even go so far as murdering her, at his Long Island estate. Janet's fiancée Dick Staunton, Richard Bond, agrees to pay the extortionists off by meeting them a his speedboat in the far end of New York Bay where they feel safe from the police an where the switch is to be made. It's then that Torchy goes into action in checkmating the extortionists plan. With the help of the US Navy and her boyfriend's, Steve McBride, bumbling assistant officer, and now promoted to Sergent, NYPD poet laureate Gahagan, Tom Kennedy, Torchy ends up getting the goods on the extortionists before they can get the goods, the $250,000.00 in extortion money, for themselves!
  • Poor Torchy! Her boyfriend, Lieutenant Steve McBride, breaks their date to go protect an art smuggler from a sinister gang. Steve sure doesn't seem too sorry—he hardly even apologizes to Torchy. Of course, she sneaks after him that night, hoping to catch a scoop for her newspaper….

    Barton McLane gets a big role this time around—his Lieutenant McBride is right at the center of the action. Unfortunately, the lieutenant has never been dumber. He tells the smuggler not to worry, that the police will protect him—and the smuggler is promptly murdered. He tells the next threatened victim the same thing—and that guy is murdered just as quickly. He's not protecting anybody!

    Glenda Farrell is fine as always in her sixth appearance as adventurous reporter Torchy Blane. The cops do their best to keep her in the dark, but Torchy gets her leads and reports them without resisting a dig or two: the first murder, she writes, has left "investigating officers, headed by Detective Lt. Steve McBride, running around in circles so fast they're apt to meet themselves coming back."

    The plot concerns some stolen jade "burial tablets" and a supposed Chinese gang out to retrieve them. Unfortunately, there's not enough humor or snappy by-play between characters—the really appealing elements of the series' better entries—to keep this one moving. Tom Kennedy, back again as faithful but dim police chauffeur Gahagan, isn't given nearly enough to do, either.

    It's a cast of pros and the production is competent, so the picture is certainly watchable. Farrell, especially, is never boring. However, the rather dreadful plot and an overall lack of zip place this one at the bottom of the list of Torchy Blane mysteries.
  • This entertaining entry in the Torchy Blane series also happens to be one of the least PC movies of all time, and that's saying quite a bit. Every Asian stereotype you can imagine is dredged up by screenwriter George Bricker and there's even a minstrel show joke for good measure. When Barton Maclane exclaims, "Chinese!", Gloria Farrell responds, "oodles of them!". The story is the usual stuff about stolen jade, ancient curses, family honour, and murder. The twist is telegraphed early on but the film remains briskly entertaining, especially when that brassiest of brassy dames, Ms. Farrell, is on screen--which is most of the film's 58 minutes running time.
  • ksf-219 November 2018
    One of the later chapters in the "Torchy Blane" series, this has the usual cast of Glenda Farrell (Torchy), along with Barton MacLane and Tom Kennedy. Torchy is out to solve murder crimes, while MacLane and Kennedy are officers who can never put the facts together without her. The coppers can't seem to figure out who's knocking off the guys who took the ancient tablets out of Chiner; it's a good thing Torchy is hanging around trying to see and hear anything she can use at the newspaper. The slapstick gags by Gahagan are really over the top in this one. almost annoying. As usual, don't look too closely at the story or it starts to come apart. It's pretty good. Directed by William Beaudine, who directed about half the films in the 1930s and 1940s.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    " . . . any more," and THEN proceeded to kick America in Her teeth for five painful years. Few if any foresaw the perfidy of this noxious POTUS, but the always eponymous Warner Bros. DID with TORCHY BLANE IN CHINATOWN. As the recently released LBJ tapes reveal, "Tricky Dick" committed High Treason in prolonging the Vietnam debacle more than five years, simply to advance his own Ambition, at the expense of a million lives (including 40,000 Americans), just as Warner's gifted team of prognosticators warned us he would in CHINATOWN. "Fitzhugh, Mansfield, and Condon" come back from "the dead," eerily similar to how America's would-be King Richard IV would resurrect himself through treasonous trickery and knavish necromancy a few decades later. As the Munchkin coroner sings the same year TORCHY BLANE IN CHINATOWN came out, it's very important to ascertain that the Wicked are not "just merely dead, but really quite sincerely dead." CHINATOWN features bogus "doctors" disrupting its title community to extort ransom, just as Evil King Rick flew his devious "Dr. K." all over Asia to extort Blood Money for the U.S. Military/Industrial Complex. Sadly, Warner Bros.' TORCHY BLANE IN CHINATOWN warning fell upon deaf ears.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    This is the seventh film in the Torchy Blane series (though one review erroneously says it's the fifth) and it has an advantage over the previous films. Here there are some excellent supporting actors that previous movies in the series lacked. Henry O'Neill, James Stephenson and Patric Knowles all are on hand in supporting roles.

    The plot seems very much like one that you might have in a Charlie Chan or Mr. Moto film, though the film actually is a remake of MURDER WILL OUT (1930). It involves some rare jade tablets and threats that are supposedly from Chinese people who are angry that these priceless treasures were taken from the graves they adorned.

    As usual in the last few films, Torchy and her police lieutenant boyfriend work against each other instead of together like they did in the first few films in order to solve the crimes. This is a shame, as this is pretty much the same pattern MOST B-detective films fell into during this era--with heroes such as the Falcon, Boston Blackie and the Lone Wolf doing their own investigations since the cops are morons.

    By the way, with the one murder attempt involving cigarettes, this might be one of the silliest and most contrived bits I've seen in a film like this in a long time. The doctor begins choking and feeling ill when he starts smoking. Suddenly another person at the funeral grabs the cigarette from the doctor's mouth and announces "it has the sign of the golden dragon!!". And, it just so happens that the doctor has the antidote to the poison at his home! And, it just so happens that someone substituted the antidote with water! And, it just so happens that none of this makes any sense--especially when a bullet to the brain is a lot easier. It all was just too convenient and contrived to be believable.

    Despite this being so contrived, the mystery itself turned out to be a pretty dandy one. In fact, the film would have earned a 7 had they not had this silly poisoning segment.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Torchy Blane in Chinatown (1939) continues the downward spiral of the previous Torchy Gets Her Man (1938) and represents a nadir for the series. It is the most frustrating entry primarily for wasting an interesting premise and substantial acting talent with a terrible script. The narrative once again puts Torchy on the outside looking in as the story focuses on Lt. Steve MacBride bungling his investigation. He really comes across as a clown with a badge while Torchy is put into her by now familiar role of wisecracking nuisance.

    The title is a misnomer as no one ever sets foot in Chinatown; the plot is driven by the supposed revenge on an archeologist, Allan Fitzhugh, and his friends Mansfield & Captain Condon for liberating some jade burial tablets from China. Fitzhugh has received a death threat and goes to the police for protection. Steve McBride offers to not only protect but apprehended the villains which starts the plot off in all directions. Pretty soon people are dying, bodies disappearing, a senator's future son-in-law (with the priceless only-in-the-thirties name Dick Baldwin) is being extorted, and nearly everyone is receiving ominous messages written in Chinese.

    Director William "One Take" Beaudine employs a series of stock shots at the outset and peppers the film with many Eastern references to inject some oriental flavor into the show. The standard Torchy Blane theme during the credits is rearranged to favor an Asian lilt as well. Unfortunately Beaudine is unable to make the story cohesive; in retrospect the narrative is impossibly muddled and provokes way too many questions. Despite some apparent grizzly deaths and a thick air of intrigue the cast seems remarkably calm and unconcerned by everything. Given the way things develop the ultimate solution to the mystery should be obvious to any viewer and announcing there is a twist at the end isn't revealing too much.

    Glenda Farrell tries her best to inject some life into the tired screenplay with her line readings and bits of physical business such as constantly hitting people but truly has no chance. Her character feels shoehorned into the proceedings; every important sequence begins with Steve policing and her snooping around the fringe until she blunders into the center of things. On the plus side Miss Farrell has the opportunity to be glammed up in a fancy dress for a party sequence but that is small consolation for the indignities she suffers throughout.

    If Miss Farrell is handcuffed by the narrative Barton MacLane is clapped in irons doing hard labor. Steve McBride is a complete jackass in this venture as he continually boasts of catching the perpetrators but is constantly outwitted (At one point he is accurately referred to as a "lumbering limb of the law"). On a personal level he boomerangs between yelling at Torchy and demeaningly offering to feed her scoops while being relentlessly cruel & dismissive towards Gahagan. Through it all MacLane soldiers on and does his best to lend dignity to his poorly-conceived role.

    Tom Kennedy has his most demeaning turn as the simpleton Gahagan and for once MacBride sidelines him at the climax to spare himself the nincompoop's shenanigans. Predictably Gahagan isn't so easily shunned aside as he takes a page out of Torchy's book by barreling into the proceedings and somehow catching up to a speedboat while clumsily rowing a dinghy. And if that's not enough he's forced to spout cringeworthy racist dialect when apprehending the masked culprits.

    Series regulars Frank Shannon, George Guhl, and Joe Cunningham re-enact their roles as McTavish, Graves, and Maxie although Guhl & Cunningham basically have walk-ons. John Harron appears as a driver while John Ridgely pops up as a submarine officer. Sharp eyed connoisseurs of classic cinema can pick out Victor Sen Young in a brief bit as well.

    The true tragedy is the waste of cinematic talents Henry O'Neill, Patric Knowles, and James Stephenson. O'Neill is the jade collecting Senator Baldwin who's forever clashing with the brusk MacBride which curiously offers no future payoff. The always reliable Knowles is wasted as Condon while appearing bored and disinterested throughout. Perhaps most blatantly cast aside is Stephenson as Mansfield; he succumbs to both pedestrian writing and a poisoned cigarette (possibly). Surprisingly the actor who's treated with the most respect is Tetsu Komai as Lem, the Mayor of Chinatown. He apprises MacBride of the large suspect list based on the extensive lineage of those affected by the removal of the burial tablets. Of course, one has to overlook the fact that Komai is Japanese but hey, you can't have complete racial sensitivity in 1939.

    Having now skewered this movie one might get the impression the film is to be avoided but this supposition would be incorrect. It has entertainment value but the sheer waste of Patric Knowles, James Stephenson, and Henry O'Neill - not to mention stars Glenda Farrell, Barton MacLane, and Tom Kennedy - by a shoddy script is infuriating. For squandering its substantial assets Torchy Blane in Chinatown achieves the dubious distinction of being the worst film in the series.

    Barton Maclane, Glenda Farell. From the Torchy Blane series. Classic fast-talking good-guy police detective MacBride and his girl, Torchy (reporter). I have a love/hate relationship with this whole series (nine of them). This one was one of the better ones. A blackmail case.

    But throughout the series Torchy, a pretty reporter, is constantly trying to snoop into ongoing police investigations, jeopardizing her own and other peoples' lives, not to mention stealing or tampering with evidence. She is always on the verge of getting arrested or rubbed out by the murderers or gang members. So she's irritating.

    I'd rate the similar "Maisie" series (with Ann Sothern) higher.
  • cherold22 March 2013
    I'm always drawn to 40s B movies about wisecracking investigators, but some are better than others, and this one is definitely a lesser example of the genre. Farrell's performance as brassy reporter Torchy feels thin, and the lead detective is bland, although I rather liked the odd romance between the two.

    Tom Kennedy, on the other hand, was quite amusing as a doofus cop.

    As for the story, well, it was really moronic. Of particular note was how terrible the lead cop was, constantly assuring people he would protect them and failing to do so, yet never losing confidence and, more amazingly, never getting in trouble. And no one ever said, "I don't trust you because you gave the same assurances to the last guy" (although ultimately you could make a case for why that ultimately makes sense).

    I think that will be it for me and Torchy Blane movies.