Charlie Chan in London, Director: Eugene Forde
Cast: Warner Oland (Charlie Chan), Ray Milland (Neil Howard), Drue Leyton (Pamela Gray), Mona Barrie (Lady Bristol), Douglas Walton (Paul Gray), Alan Mowbray (Geoffrey Richmond), George Barraud (Major Jardine), Paul England (Bunny Fothergill), Madge Bellamy (Becky Fothergill), Walter Johnson (Jerry Garton), Murray Kinnell (Capt. Seton), E.E. Clive (Detective Sgt. Thacker), Elsa Buchanan (Alice), Reginald Sheffield (Flight Commander King), and Perry Ivins (Home Secretary Kemp).
Beautiful young Pamela Gray is deeply troubled. Her brother has been accused of murder and is just days away from execution. After pleading with the Home Secretary to save her sibling from the gallows, she feels sorrowfully defeated knowing that there is nothing more she can do to stop the execution of her brother, Paul Gray.
Suddenly, her hopes are rekindled when the Home Secretary advises her that a famous detective from Honolulu has come to London. There is only one man who might be able to save her brother Paul and prove that he did not murder the victim, Captain Hamilton of the Royal Air Force. Pamela Gray must seek help from the enigmatic Chinese detective, Charlie Chan.
Chan, played here by Swedish actor Warner Oland, agrees to look into the case although he is not completely convinced that Paul Gray is innocent. Charlie Chan is not alone in having doubts about the convicted man’s innocence. Pamela Gray’s handsome fiancee, who is also her brother’s lawyer, admits to Chan that even he thinks Paul Gray is guilty. Pamela is shocked and hurt that the man she loves believes that her brother is guilty of murder. She tears her engagement ring off of her finger and throws it to the ground.
Inspector Chan begins his investigation at a country manor house of Geoffrey Howard. The Howards are longtime friends of the Gray family and, sadly, their manor house was the site of Captain Hamilton’s murder. Charlie promises Pamela that he will try to expose the real murderer at the scene of the crime.
Chan swiftly becomes embroiled in another death at the manor house and must determine if this was a second murder or a case of suicide. True to his word, Chan gathers together all possible suspects and prepares to announce who is the true murderer ... and then ... you’ll have to watch the movie yourself. We’re not about to tell you whodunit!
Mystery fans will enjoy this old fashioned Charlie Chan tale despite it’s politically incorrect casting. Faster paced than many of the later films, this b&w Chan flick, the second in the long-running series, is still fun to watch and has quite a trick at the end which will leave many guessing. True to the times, the plot revolves around stolen plans that could aid the enemy if they were to fall into evil doers in Europe.
Trivia buffs will also appreciate that 67 years after Charlie Chan in London first appeared in theaters, Hollywood director Robert Altman included a small ‘tribute’ to the Chan film into his own script for Gosford Park. In the 2001 murder mystery, Altman sets his story at a luxurious manor house outside of London. One of the guests in Gosford Park is an American film director, Morris Weissman (portrayed by Bob Balaban). Weissman announces, to the disdainful stares of his haughty host and hostess, that he has come to the weekend party at their estate only because he is looking for ‘background’ on a new movie he is about to produce; Charlie Chan in London starring actor Alan Mowbray.
Read our biography of Charlie Chan.