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High Tide

Julie Cialini as Annie in the '95 season is the reason to watch!
Admittedly, I've only seen the 1995 season with Julie Cialini as Annie the shop girl. But,she is the reason to watch. The series is set on the boardwalk off the beach. Rick Springfield and Yannick Bisson are brothers who own a surf shop. Springfield is an ex-cop. Together they solve mysteries and fight crime. Almost always there is at least one beautiful woman involved. One episode they help a bikini clad Denise Richards. But the highlight of the show is Playboy Playmate of the Year (1995) Julie Cialini and her micro-bikini wardrobe!

Taking the Heat

Rachel York makes this worth watching.
"Taking The Heat" would be utterly forgettable save for the appearance of the incredibly talented and beautiful Rachel York who plays Susan, a secretary. Rachel alone is worth the price of the film and your viewing time. I have to admit, I am a huge fan of Ms. York. And, after seeing her many times on stage and hearing her wonderful singing voice, her part in this film is not the best use of her marvelous talent. However, she does appear nude. And, aside from her acting and singing, Rachel is absolutely gorgeous! She is dark haired in this one. Usually she is blonde. I suggest you forward fast the tape just to see her scenes.

Howling V: The Rebirth

Great overlooked horror gem!
Although most reviewers rate this low, I think this is a horror gem! It is loaded with atmosphere, having been filmed in a real middle-European castle. A group of travelers are stranded there during a blizzard at night as a werewolf picks them off one by one. Can they find out who the werewolf is in time? There are great scenes with the cast creeping around in catacombs. Although the monster is hardly seen, it leaves more for the imagination like the horror classics of old. Horror fans should not miss this one! AAAAA++++

The Sky Dragon

Great title. Poor picture.
The last Chan film made by Monogram and Roland Winters is a sad final bow for the great detective and great film series. The supporting cast is good for a Monogram picture. The best thing about it is that Keye Luke is back as Lee Chan. Great title. Poor picture! Sorry Charlie!

Shanghai Chest

Watch a Warner Oland Chan instead!
Another great title let down by a poor script, low budget, and mostly bad acting. This film has Tim Ryan as police Lt. Mike Ruark, whom Chan calls, "Lt. Mike". Overall, it is annoying rather than endearing. Tim Ryan is credited with "additional dialogue". If only he came up with better words. Watch a Warner Oland Chan instead.

The Feathered Serpent

Dreadful Monogram Chan film with weak Roland Winters starring. The only item of interest is the paring of both Keye Luke (as Lee Chan) and Victor Sen Young (as Tommy Chan.) Set amidst Mexican pyramids, this is a boring poorly done film. It is sad that Luke and Young together didn't have a better script or budget.

Docks of New Orleans

Not very exciting.
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.

The Chinese Ring

Winter's first Chan is okay as Monogram Chan films go.
This was the first Chan film with Roland Winters in the title role. It is a remake of Monogram's "Mr. Wong in Chinatown". This is okay as Monogram Chans go. The supporting cast is pretty good for this studio with Philip Ahn standing out. An interesting search for a mysterious "Captain K" makes it fun.

The Scarlet Clue

Pretty interesting and clever.
Chan is after spies in a radio station. This is actually pretty interesting for a Monogram Chan film. This has a humorous comedy routine between Mantan Moreland and Ben Carter in which they never finish their sentences but they each know what the other is saying. Pretty funny and clever.

The Jade Mask

Pretty good by Monogram standards.
A pretty good film by Monogram standards. However, the film's working title, "Mystery Mansion" would have been more appropriate. This film is more notable for the appearance of Keye Luke's brother, Edwin Luke, as No. 4 Son, Eddie Chan. (He was no actor!) This is also the first film in which Birmingham is identified as Chan's chauffeur.

Black Magic

More Monogram!
This is yet another low budget Monogram Chan film. I find this to be a dismal attempt to try to re-capture the feeling of earlier films like "Charlie Chan's Secret". It involves seances and a far-fetched plot. In this one, Charlie is assisted by a daughter, Frances, rather than one of his sons. It doesn't add much. The original title, "Black Magic", was later changed to "Meeting at Midnight", perhaps so it wouldn't be confused with the Orson Welles film titled "Black Magic" released in 1949.

Charlie Chan in Panama

One of Toler's Best!
This spy adventure is one of Sidney Toler's best Chan films. It is a very clever and exciting mystery with a lot of local atmosphere including a crypt. The supporting cast is excellent. There is a lot of humor, action, and suspense through out. The story was filmed before as "Marie Galante" in 1934 with Spencer Tracy. This is a much better version.

Charlie Chan at the Wax Museum

One of Toler's Best!
This is another fine example of how good Toler can be in a Chan film if he is surrounded by spooky atmosphere, a good supporting cast, and a fine script. Most of the movie takes place inside the wax museum providing a great back drop for all the goings on. This is one of the best of the series. Good to watch on a rainy night.

Charlie Chan in Honolulu

Toler and Sen Yung's debut as Chan & son!
This is the first film with Sidney Toler as Charlie and Sen Yung as Jimmy. And, while it is fun to see them at home with the whole family, I was disappointed by it. The film spends too much time on low brow humor with Eddie Collins and his lion. George Zucco has a wonderful role. In the film "Mr. Moto's Last Warning", there is a theater program that lists the film "Charlie Chan in Honolulu" with Warner Oland as the star. At the time the Moto film was made, it was probably hoped Mr. Oland would be able to make this film. Unfortunately, he passed away. Toler's Chan is very abrupt and he has many acid comments. I prefer the humble, polite portrayal of Oland.

Charlie Chan at the Olympics

Of Historical Note.
This Chan film is of interest for its historical setting--the 1936 Berlin Olympic Games and the air ship Hindenburg. I find this to be below Warner Oland's usual standard. Not that he doesn't do his normal great job. For me, the setting just isn't mysterious enough. And, while it is fun to see Chan fly on the ill-fated dirigible, it is interesting to note that the film sidesteps the Nazi situation. Pauline Moore appears in this one. She later has a better role in "Charlie Chan in Treasure Island."

Charlie Chan at Monte Carlo

Weakest of the Oland Chans.
This was the last time Warner Oland played the great Charlie Chan. Sadly, his final bow is not a very good one. Chan is not in it enough for me. A lot of the screen time is devoted to Harold Huber. And, the plot is forgettable along with the script. Mr. Oland deserved a better exit.

Charlie Chan at the Race Track

An interesting film with much in its favor.
An interesting film with much in its favor, especially the team of Oland and Luke. I particularly like the scenes aboard ship en route from Honolulu to the mainland. Keye Luke has many funny scenes. A fair portion of the beginning of the film involves the other characters before Chan gets involved in the mystery. This makes it seem more like one of the Earl Derr Bigger's novels. This film makes a good double feature with the Marx Brothers' film, "A Day At The Races".

Charlie Chan at the Circus

An "average" entry in the series
This Oland Chan film comes off as only "average". It is fun but nothing special. The best part is the sight of Chan and his entire family arriving at the circus. An interesting note is that supporting player J. Carrol Naish would later play Chan in the 50's TV series, "The New Adventures of Charlie Chan". Goes well on a double feature with the Marx Brothers' "At the Circus".

Charlie Chan in Paris

Another Oland Chan Classic!
This is another Warner Oland Charlie Chan classic! This film was considered lost for many years until it was re-discovered in the late 70's. Thank goodness it was found as it is one of the best of the series. It has everything--a great performance by Oland in the title role; the introduction of Keye Luke as Lee Chan; an ingenius mystery; loads of atmosphere; and strong supporting players. There is even an apache dance for added local color. And, as Chan says, 'Many strange crimes committed in the sewers of Paris!" See this one again and again!

Charlie Chan and the Curse of the Dragon Queen

A sad attempt at making a Chan film.
This is the perfect example of how not to make a Charlie Chan film--or any film for that matter! It was meant as a comedy--but it's not funny. The mystery is lame. The acting is awful. A good cast wasted by a terrible script! Peter Ustinov is better than this and should have said "No!" to this one. A big waste of time and money. Only for absolute Chan fanatics and then only so they can say , "Yeah. I saw it." To paraphrase from a much better Chan film, "Bad film like dead fish--can not stand test of time!" See any of the 20th Century Fox Chan films from the 30's and early 40's instead.

The Return of Charlie Chan

Misguided effort to revive the Chan series.
This TV movie from the early 70's was a misguided effort to revive the Charlie Chan film series. It fails on every count. It is needlessly complicated. And it is dated in a tacky, rather than nostalgic, way--unlike the classic Chans from the 30's and early 40's, which hold up. Don't waste your time unless you are an absolute Chan fanatic. Your time would be better spent watching "Charlie Chan at Treasure Island" or "Charlie Chan at the Opera", or any of the Fox Chan films. Even the Monogram Chan films are better than this one!

The Trap

Toler's last Chan film is a big disappointment.
"The Trap" was Sidney Toler's last film as Chan. Too bad it is one of the worst. The script is very poor and so is the acting on all counts. (Well, okay. Sen Yung and Mantan Moreland are funny.) Toler acts like a sleep walker through the whole dreary thing. Granted he was ill. The production values are low even for Monogram. A better title was its working title, "Murder in Malibu" as it is set at a beach house in Malibu. But the whole thing is miserable and not fun at all.

Shadows Over Chinatown

Great title. Poor movie.
Another waste of a great title for a Chan film. It starts out with Chan (Sidney Toler), his son, (Sen Yung, who returned to the series with this film), and chauffeur Birmingham Brown (Mantan Moreland) travelling to San Francisco by bus. (If Chan has a chauffeur, why are they riding by bus?)

The plot involves the Missing Persons Bureau and dismembered torsos. But it really doesn't do anything for me. I'd rather watch a Fox Chan or re-read one of the Bigger's novels.

Dangerous Money

Poor Monogram Chan flick!
Another poor Monogram Charlie Chan film. The production values, story, acting and directing are very weak. The story is uninteresting. A ship to the South Seas would have been fun in a 20th Century Fox Chan movie but not so here. Only of note because this was the second and final time Willie Best played Chatanooga. Otherwise, one to skip.

The Shanghai Cobra

Far fetched mystery with a great title.
Admittedly, I am not a fan of the Monogram Chan films. . The plot, involving radium theft from a bank vault, is a bit far fetched and a long way from the atmospheric mysteries that Fox produced. Mantan Moreland and Benson Fong (as No. 3 Son Tommy) provide some laughs as usual. But otherwise there isn't much here. Great title that is wasted.

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