Charlie Chan in the Secret Service
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20 of 20 people found the following review helpful
on March 16, 2002
"Charlie Chan in The Secret Service" was my first Chan movie. I was impressed with it. My only complaint was the scene in which Chan is riding to the mansion that the inventor was killed in, and is walking up to the mansion. Loud, blaring, music is played during this scene as if there was a fight scene going on or something. But it is apparent that Toler is trying to create interest in this new first Monogram outing, and it pays off. The low budget is futile to complain about, because the budget for the Monogram pictures never increases at any point in time. Critics should judge the Monogram Chans and state their opinion according to if they did the best job they could with the lower budget. Simply complaining about the low budget doesn't cut it, because the Monogram Chans ALL have a low budget. But if their resources are used in the best way, it can still be a good movie, low budget or not.I thought it was a good mystery that was not muddled or confusing. I would give them a thumbs up for doing their best to have a good movie. The Fox Chans were a hard act to follow, but quite a few times, Monogram did very well, lower budget and all. Of course, Benson Fong did not have the effect that the other two previous sons had, but he did well, I thought. Marianne Quon as Iris Chan works well off Benson Fong, but is only seen in this one movie. And of course, Mantan Moreland as Birmingham makes his first appearance as well, and continued throughout the series(with the exception of "The Red Dragon" and "Dangerous Money".)Of course, this movie is not "Citizen Kane", but is worth viewing.
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17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
The first of low-budget Monogram Pictures' Charlie Chan mysteries has some flaws, but was successful enough to give the series a new lease on life. Chan investigates the murder of a scientist and the disappearance of secret plans. The film is too stagey; most of the mystery is talked out in ensemble scenes, with a minimum of action. Mantan Moreland (billed second) is a plus, Marianne Quon (as Chan's daughter) is a minus, because she doesn't deliver dialogue convincingly. The underscoring is laughable, with much-too-dramatic music blaring when nothing exciting is happening. The tape's picture and sound are excellent. Okay for Chan fans and B-movie buffs, but if you don't know the Monogram Chans, try "The Shanghai Cobra" or "The Scarlet Clue" instead.
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14 of 17 people found the following review helpful
on August 20, 1999
Sidney Toler returns as detective Charlie Chan in this Monogram picture after being dropped from 20th Century Fox in 1942. Monogram was known as the king of the "B" movies. This film introduces Benson Fong as Number 3 son, Tommy, and Marianne Quon as Number 2 daughter, Iris. It also introduces the comedian Mantan Moreland who would continue to play the role of Birmingham Brown in most of the Monogram Chan films. Some politically correct types might criticize Moreland as being a black stereotype, but, to me, he adds a refreshing touch of humor to these films. His material in this film is rather weak, but would get better in later films. In one scene, Tommy and Iris start talking to Chan in jive talk. Chan says "Could please speak English?" Tommy replies "Yeah Pop! We're hep cats of the younger generation! You're Confucius. I'm Confucius Jr.!" The classic Chan line in this film is "Detective without curiosity like glass eye at keyhole---no good!"
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Of course, I'm awarding this film five stars specifically to benefit Chan-Nazis like myself in deciding where this one fits in, rating-wise, alongside all the others.

I enjoy Sidney Toler (which this one is) and Warner Oland Chan films equally and I place this particular entry in the top 30 percent of them all. "Castle in the Desert" stands far and above ALL the rest, in my opinion, and then you have "Charlie Chan in The Jade Mask," which rates just above this entry, "Charlie Chan in the Secret Service". I see this one as about evenly equal to "Charlie Chan in Reno," or to "Charlie Chan and The Wax Museum".

In "Charlie Chan in the Secret Service," a renowned scientist is under full-time guard by G-men who foolishly allow the old man to go off by himself downstairs in his large home to greet guests for a cocktail party. Of course, he meets his demise in a closet near the bottom of the stairs and his valuable plan is stolen from his person; however, the G-men are quickly downstairs and on the guests before anyone can flee the scene. Charlie is called in to find both the murderer and the stolen plan.

The guests represent a strange and eccentric aggregation of humanity, (a brilliant cast), and the viewer is pointed first toward one, then towards another of them as the possible culprit. Mantan Moreland yields his usual great performance, providing his obligatory comic relief.

This is a Charlie Chan film worth watching by anyone who enjoys the older black-and-white whodunnits, (such as the old Basil Rathbone Sherlock Holmes films), but it's a special treat for Charlie's many fans.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on June 29, 2006
I like CHARLIE CHAN IN THE SECRET SERVICE although I agree with some of the other reviewers that this low budget movie has many obvious shortcomings.For the Chan fan it is still an entertaining entry about a scientist who dies mysteriously in his home which is full of house guests.His plans for a new torpedo are missing and the guests are the leading suspects in both the theft of the plans and the possible murder of the scientist.Charlie Chan is called in as an agent of the Secret Service to assist in the case.

Sidney Toler plays the part of Charlie Chan and he is joined by Benson Fong as Tommie Chan and Marianne Quon as Iris Chan. The cast also includes the excellent comic Mantan Moreland.

The producers were Philip N. Krasne and James S. Burkett. The director was Phil Rosen and the screenplay was written by George Callahan.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1944's "Charlie Chan in the Secret Service" features Sidney Toler as the famous Honolulu detective, now seconded to the Secret Service for the war. He is assisted in this episode by Number Three Son Tommy (Benson Fong), Number Two Daughter Iris (Marianne Quon), and Driver Birmingham Brown (Mantan Moreland). Together, they must solve the mystery of how a top scientist dropped dead in a house full of guests while the plan for a secret weapon went missing.

Chan, in conjunction with his Secret Service colleagues, confines the rather eccentric collection of guests to the house while he conducts his investigation. The investigation seems to consist of Charlie leading the guests from room to room for questioning while he slowly unpeels a rather ingenious series of murder traps. None of the guests are quite who they claim to be, and through a series of experiments, Charlie weeds the crop down to an unlikely suspect.

This is a rather awkward episode. The plot and dialogue are clunky, while the direction rarely missed an opportunity for stagey melodrama whether through a rising music score or shots of an unidentified eye peering from cracked doors. Tommy, Iris, and Birmingham are only rarely able to provide the comic relief that would become standard later in the series. This is not the best entry in the Charlie Chan collection, and will appeal primarily to diehard fans of the series.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on February 3, 2009
This movie has some of the best film noir photography I have seen in all the Charlie Chan entries. It's great is has finally been issued on DVD, so I can enjoy those visuals eve more.

Storywise, it's a decent story with an interesting cast of suspects. My complaint is fairly minor: it is a little below-average in the amount of humorous Charlie Chan proverbs that we Chan fans love so much. Otherwise, I enjoyed the movie.

Although not Charlie's official chauffeur-assistant in here as he was in most of these Monogram Chan films, Mantan Moreland ("Birmingham Brown") plays his usual role as a guy helping out and adding humor. He's a likable guy as are all of Charlie's kids, two of them joining in this mystery. We get Number Three Son "Tommie" (Benson Fong) and daughter "Iris" (Marianne Quon. Chan's kids are always nosy, goodhearted and, in the latter-day films, not that helpful.

A few quick action scenes help keep things rolling and, as usual, we get Charlie's summary of the case at the end in which our hero exposes the crook. Overall, is this a great Charlie Chan film? No, it's average....but just average is still good to me.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
An inventor of a new weapon is being doggedly protected by government agents. He tells them to back off as they are an insult to his guests. He keeps the plans safe in his pocket. We see ominous eye pears out of the shadows. We know that any minute our scientist will be shot or stabbed. He drops dead. Yep they call in Inspector Jones (Arthur Loft) who in turn calls in Charlie Chan (Sidney Toler).

The props look like cardboard and toys. The background music is atrocious as they try to build up suspense and only make you wish this was a silent movie. They must have dug Sidney up from the grave; he is falling apart and his sneer look more like a grimace. The characters are not and you spot the obvious perpetrator.

The only mystery is how the inventor died. No fair guessing.

Charlie Chan in Meeting at Midnight
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
This is the first of the Monogram Charlie Chan movies and probably one of the worst; they got a tad better as time went on. Take, for instance, "The Shanghi Cobra." There is a scene, that you can view on YouTube, from this film that is a real hoot. Charlie leaves a building and goes to another destination, all the while, VERY DRAMATIC MUSIC is playing...nothing happens! All he did was travel! I realize that the budget for the Charlie Chan Films was considerably streamed down when they were produced through the poverty row studio, Monogram. None the less, they are still fun to watch. And if you are a completest of the Chan movies like I am; a must have on your shelf.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on April 7, 2014
GREAT OLD SHOW. NEED TO ADD MORE OF CHARLIE CHAN IF YOU CAN FIND THEM. STREAMING CAME THROUGH WITH NO PROBLEMS.
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