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  • This is one of the Roland Winters episodes. He is really weak as Chan. Of all the non- Asians who played Charlie, he is the least Asian appearing of all. He delivers lines poorly and is, frankly, boring. This is another episode about international terror. Apparently, some guys are trying to kill masses of people by producing a kind of poison gas. Once again, while everyone is in a room, a guy goes into his office and dies mysteriously. There is something to do with radio tubes and high frequency sound. It's a good idea, but the way everything unfolds is so far fetched. Another weakness is how little Mantan and Tommy are utilized. Since Chan is so lame, these guys are normally the fun. Winters seems to have no chemistry with these guys. One can see the series gasping for air as we move to the last episodes.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Opposing forces are at work in a dual plot that makes "Docks of New Orleans" an interesting Charlie Chan mystery. An international gang attempts to steal a secret gas formula that they can no longer prevent from being shipped to rival forces in South America. At the same time, the inventor of the gas formula seeks revenge on the owner and partners of the LaFontanne Chemical Company who paid him a measly sum for the formula, while cutting him out of huge profits and a partnership for himself.

    As usual, Charlie Chan casts a wary eye in all directions and pursues his investigation with excruciating patience. Roland Winters portrays Chan for the second time in this Monogram release. As before in "The Chinese Ring", Victor Sen Yung appears with a confused identity - early in the film, Pop Chan refers to him as Number #2 son, and somewhat later calls him by the name of Jimmy. Near the end of the movie, Chan calls out to Tommy. For those not as familiar with the Chan characters, Tommy as Number #3 Son was portrayed in earlier Monogram's by Benson Fong. Was this a confusing lapse in continuity, or was Monogram by this time goofing on it's audience?

    Mantan Moreland is back again as Chan servant Birmingham Brown. In an interesting twist, son Jimmy/Tommy retrieves a hijacked vehicle from a parking garage with Moreland's character along for the ride as a passenger; Birmingham is the Chan chauffeur in earlier films. Birmingham also reprises a humorous exchange with an uncredited Haywood Jones as "Mobile" Jones, reminiscent of his "Pidgin' English" dialog with Ben Carter in "The Scarlet Clue" and "Dark Alibi".

    The key to solving the mystery is provided by Tommy and Birmingham in concert (no pun intended) when they offer a rendition of "Chop Suey Boogie" with Birmingham on piano and Tommy on violin. The high pitched screech of Tommy's violin causes a radio tube to break, leading Charlie to theorize that the deadly gas formula is released in the same manner. To eliminate the three partners who bilked him out of a fortune, inventor Swenstrom cleverly uses his wife's radio broadcasts to break tubes planted in the victims' home and office radios, set to the precise station at the appropriate times.

    Granted, "Docks of New Orleans" is not high drama, and there are slow moments. Captain McNalley (John Gallaudet) of the New Orleans Police Department is particularly inept in dismissing clues and evidence that Chan immediately considers important. All considered though, this is an entertaining mystery and a nifty entry in the Chan series.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    "The Docks Of New Orleans" (don't expect to see much of New Orleans, by the way; the production values are depressing) presents a potentially intriguing locked-room murder mystery, but the method of the murder turns out to be an almost exact copy of "Mr. Wong, Detective" (the Boris Karloff movie), and the murderer is fairly obvious after a point. The film is a mostly dreary affair, but one long sequence near the end, with Chan held at gunpoint by three villains and trying to stall for time, is well-done. Number Two Son and Birmingham Brown have very small parts this time around. My favorite Chan line: "Only important that you do not underrate me when we part". ** out of 4.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Docks of New Orleans has one scene that makes the whole movie worth watching. Number Two Son Tommy Chan and chauffeur Birmingham Brown decide to play a duet of ' that old Chop Suey Boogie', with Tommy on violin and Birmingham on piano. The look on Charlie Chan's face as he hears the off key tune from another room, while trying to solve the murder mystery, is priceless.

    Spoilers ahead: The clever ending, with a captive Charlie Chan tricking the bad guys into believing they have been trapped in a room filled with odorless poison gas, is quite amusing. Roland Winters brought a very low key wit to his portrayal of Chan, which serves the character well; as Charlie frequently reacts to the outrageous events around him with one raised eyebrow and an air of humorous resignation at the idiocy he must contend with, from both dopey policemen and his enthusiastic assistants. This is one of the lesser films in the long running series, but fun for Charlie Chan devotees.
  • This is a Roland Winters' Monogram made Chan flick. It is a remake of their earlier "Mr. Wong, Detective". Neither version is very exciting. Winters is a very weak Chan, at best. Only Victor Sen Young and Mantan Moreland brighten the film. This is one of the films that has Young playing "No. 2 Son Tommy"! He used to be "No. 2 Son Jimmy". Tommy was Benson Fong and No. 3 Son. It is sort of an ongoing blooper in the later Monograms.
  • Not that Monogram invested too much of anything in their product under the tight fisted and Philistine like regime of Sam Katzman, but they do out do themselves with Docks Of New Orleans. Roland Winters, the third and last big screen Charlie Chan had taken over and this is the second of two Mr. Wong plots that I've discovered recycled for the Chan series.

    Docks Of New Orleans is remade from Mr. Wong Detective and when I wrote my review of that film I remarked that it was a truly unique and clever way that the culprit had of murdering the victims. Here the gimmick is told from the outset Taking the most important element of the previous film away.

    One of the partners of a chemical firm says that he feels betrayed by his two other partners and later on winds up dead in a proverbial locked room. Having consulted Roland Winters, Charlie Chan is brought in as a consultant to the New Orleans PD in the person here of John Gallaudet.

    There's both a smuggling racket and a murder plot and Winters has to solve both in order to solve either. If you saw the Mr. Wong film than you know how this ends and who was doing what.
  • Charlie Chan (Roland Winters) is asked by one of the owners of a chemical plant to investigate the murders of some of his co-owners. The guy is worried he's next. At least, I think that's what the plot was about as it was convoluted and the movie was so dull I stopped caring early on.

    Winters is absolutely terrible as Chan. I can't stress this enough. I hate everything about his performance. I especially hate how he delivers lines ("How long you have..uh...been...uh..shaking hands with trouble?"). There is nothing likable or appealing about Roland Winters performance in any of his Chan films. Mantan Moreland is in this as Birmingham Brown. The less said about him the better. Victor Sen Yung is Tommy Chan. Why they messed with the names I don't know but for all of the Toler Chan films he appeared in, Sen Yung played "Number Two Son" Jimmy. Benson Fong played "Number Three Son" Tommy, a totally different son. But when Winters took over the role of Chan, they kept Sen Yung on but changed his name from Jimmy to Tommy, even though he's still referred to as "Number Two Son!" Just another example of the shoddy writing and production at Monogram. This is an exceptionally boring Chan film. Attractive Carol Forman is about the only thing worth recommending about this one.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Fans of the Charlie Chan series may notice right away that Victor Sen Yung (#2 Son) is named 'Tommy' instead of 'Jimmy' as he'd been in many films before. Somehow, he was re-named Tommy late in the life of the franchise and no one seemed to notice or care. In many ways, this is a metaphor for the overall health of the series--no one seemed to particularly notice or care that the series was on cruise control, of sorts.

    Another thing fans will probably recognize is the overall lack of fun in this film. Since the death of Sidney Toler, the next films all seemed very dry--even with the support of Mantan Moreland. It really just seemed as if the writers didn't mind that the films lost a lot of the 'fun factor'.

    The plot of the film involves three men who agree to share a company. However, when they start to die off one by one, it is assumed that the surviving partner(s) are at fault. A rather routine story and so I'm not really going to discuss it further but it sure is obvious there's more to the killings. In the end, Charlie talks and talks to explain the convoluted plot, though because this is such a low-energy and adequate film, I think my review should be the same and I'll just stop here. Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    A ship is being loaded at the Port of New Orleans, where the LaFontanne Chemical Company is shipping out a load of chemicals. Mr. LaFontanne(Boyd Irwin)is visited by two of his partners that for some reason want a death waiver on each other put in place; this demand seems suspicious just as Mr. LaFontanne discovering that he is being followed. There is the chance that the ship is being loaded with something other than chemicals and it is becoming apparent that someone doesn't want the ship ever leaving the dock. LaFontanne hires Charlie Chan(Roland Winters)to find out who and why he is being shadowed. In the mean time a former partner thinks the Chemical Company swindled him out of his invention of a poison gas...now he wants more than he was originally paid. This is a reason to threaten Mr. Fontanne, who drops dead in his office before a meeting with Chan. This script is too contrived and poorly acted. Winters just doesn't have the charisma to be a decent Charlie Chan. Other players: Birmingham Brown, Victor Sen Young, Virginia Dale, Howard Negley, Douglas Fowley and John Gallaudet.
  • csteidler6 September 2018
    A chemical company executive visits Charlie Chan: He's being followed, he says, and suspects a plot to intercept his company's shipments. While Chan listens politely, Birmingham Brown and Tommy Chan eavesdrop from the hall, hoping to get in on this case from the beginning.

    Sure enough, the executive dies mysteriously. Charlie Chan and team investigate.

    Roland Winter looks comfortable and confident in his second outing as the famous detective. The famous Chan aphorisms flow regularly--some good, some bad. ("Patience! Must harvest rice before can boil it.")

    The plot is okay but there's not much to it....it's never real clear just who these suspects are or how Chan sorts them all out. The murder device is ingenious if far-fetched: a radio tube that bursts and releases poison gas at the sound of a particular musical note.

    Mantan Moreland as chauffeur Birmingham and Victor Sen Yung as number three son Tommy are amusing as assistant detectives. Overall it's a minor series entry but hard to dislike too much.

    One great scene: Birmingham and Tommy do a piano-and-violin boogie woogie duet.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    By the end of the 1940's, the 20 year series of "Charlie Chan" was beginning to look its age, even if Chan had plastic surgery twice with the replacement of two actors from its originator, Warner Oland. Roland Winters, the weakest of the three actors to play Charlie during this time, was mighty bland, and most of the scripts followed convoluted plots which at times needed a map to figure out, clues thrown in at the last minute to throw the viewer off. Here, the plot line follows a poisoned gas invented by Harry Hayden who makes threats against the men who purchased the invention for use against America's enemies. After Hayden makes threats, murder occurs, and of course Hayden is the top suspect. Chan happens to be in New Orleans when this happens and gets involved in the case, number two son Victor Sen Young tagging along and putting his foot not only in the case but in his mouth too with his interference.

    This is probably the most straight forward of the plots of the last few years of the series, taken over from Monogram in the mid 1940's with reduced budgets and sometimes outrageous plot devices. There's a few of those developments here, but for the most part, it is on the level and overall more interesting than the remainder of the Monogram years. Still, there's a feeling that the series was long out of steam, and a sense of desperation being felt. Mantan Moreland is aboard as usual with his string of malapropisms and offers some amusement as he teams with Sen Young in getting the two into constant trouble.
  • tedg9 May 2010
    Warning: Spoilers
    This could be considered yet another manufactured episode in a tired series.

    But the Chan things had some pretty clever writers, so far as plot devices.

    One thing that made them dull was that you were introduced to the crooks early in the game; the battle of wits was boring. Here, the crooks you are introduced to are not the only ones and are being manipulated themselves. Sure, there is the pretty woman who is part of the gang and who gets cheated...

    But I would like to point out a rather remarkable plot point.

    The plot requires that a glass container of poison gas be released. This container can be planted ahead of time and triggered remotely. As it happens, the trigger involves a radio.

    Now common sense in the real world would have this glass vial be secreted in some convenient place, easy to place and remain hidden. But the story here has this vial in the form of a radio tube placed in the radio. The reason is that viewers would make the radio- gas connection better. In other words, it is a concession to cinematic storytelling even though it makes no sense, no sense at all if you think about it. But it makes absolute sense when presented. Smart writing.

    Those Chinese!

    Ted's Evaluation -- 2 of 3: Has some interesting elements.