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The Jade Mask
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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
on August 23, 1999
Format: VHS Tape
This is one of my favorite Chan films from Monogram studios. The opening resembles a Monogram horror movie with spooky music at the foggy, eerie Harper estate. This film introduces Chan's Number 4 son Eddie, a pseudo-intellectual played by Edwin Luke, brother of Keye Luke. This was his only appearance in a Charlie Chan movie. Chan is assisted by the self-deprecating, hayseed Sheriff Mack. Their collaboration makes this Chan entry more interesting than some others. The murder mystery holds your interest and keeps you guessing all through the film. The comic, Mantan Moreland as Birmingham has some funny material here, and I find the ending of this film with the hayseed sheriff and Birmingham one of the funniest endings to a film I have ever seen! Chan's classic saying here is "Murder know no law of relativity". Strongly recommended for Chan fans!
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon February 7, 2000
Format: VHS Tape
This is one of the low-budget "Charlie Chan" mysteries produced by Monogram Pictures. This time the murder victim (more precisely, the first of several victims!) is a scientist that everyone has good reason to hate. Chan steps in on the government's behalf to solve the mystery of how "dead men walk." Some decent performances (Mantan Moreland, Frank Reicher, Hardie Albright, and especially Alan Bridge as the hayseed sheriff), but the characters aren't as colorful, the direction not as brisk, and Charlie's inquisitive offspring not as engaging as usual. The mystery will definitely keep you guessing, however. This and star Sidney Toler are the main assets.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
Format: DVD
Loosely based on novels by Earl Derr Biggers, 20th Century Fox's Charlie Chan series proved an audience favorite--but when Japan attacked Pearl Harbor the studio feared audiences would turn against its Asian hero. This was a miscalculation: actor Sidney Toler took the role to "poverty row" Monogram Studios, where he continued to portray the character in eleven more films made between 1944 and his death in 1947.

20th Century Fox had regarded the Chan films as inexpensive "B" movies, but even so the studio took considerable care with them: the plots were often silly, but the pace was sharp, the dialogue witty, and the casts (which featured the likes of Bela Lugosi and Ray Milland) always expert. The result was a kindly charm which has stood the test of time. Monogram was a different matter: Chan films were "B" movies plain and simple. Little care was taken with scripts or cast and resulting films were flat, usually mediocre at best, virtually unwatchable at worst.

Released in 1945, THE JADE MASK is one of the very few Monograms that approaches the quality level of the 20th Century Fox series. This largely due to the expert cast and witty script, both of which are a bit unusual for Monogram. In this particular tale, Chan--who now works for the government during World War II--is called upon to investigate the murder of a scientist working with potentially beneficial but distinctly deadly gasses. Sidney Toler's Chan is always enjoyable, and he is aided in this by the local sheriff (Alan Bridge, who has the best lines in the film) and the inevitable Birmingham Brown (Mantan Moreland.)

Fans of the 20th Century Fox series are likely to find Monogram's Chan a significant disappointment and newcomers who like the Monogram films will probably consider them third-rate after encountering the Fox films. Even so, THE JADE MASK is unexpectly good, and I think most Chan fans will find it enjoyable.

GFT, Amazon Reviewer
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on June 26, 2006
Format: VHS Tape
THE JADE MASK is a fairly good Chan film with a plot about a diabolical genius who is trying to interrupt the Amarican war effort through a series of murders, including that of a key scientist.Chan is played by Sidney Toler and he is joined by Edwin Luke as Eddie Chan, the number three son.The cast also includes the talented comic Manton Moreland as well as Janet Warren and Edith Evanson.

The movie was produced by James S. Burkett and directed by Phil Rosen. George Callahan wrote the screenplay.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Format: DVD
1945's "The Jade Mask" is a better-than-average Charlie Chan mystery, featuring Sidney Toler as the famous Honolulu detective, on duty with the Secret Service for the war. Chan is assisted by Number Four Son Edward (Edwin Luke) and Driver Birmingham Brown (Mantan Moreland), who provide comic relief when not tripping over clues.

The story opens in the laboratory of a paranoid scientist named Harper, who is working on a secret formula for the war effort, one that will make wood as hard as steel. Harper is so concerned that his formula may be stolen that he stores it in a vault rigged to become a death trap for the unwary. When Harper goes missing in his own house, the police investigation turns up a household full of suspects in the persons of his lab assistant, sister, niece, butler, housekeeper, and mute driver. To add to the mystery, a policeman is also missing somewhere on the grounds.

Charlie Chan is called in to assist the local sheriff, who is humorously out of his depth. As Chan and his assistants turn up clues, people in the house keep dying. A key witness dies on one floor but is seen watching on another. A primitive dictaphone and a portion of a life mask end up being the keys to identify the murderer or murderer.

The plot of "The Jade Mask" is genuinely suspenseful. The early introduction of the secret and deadly vault alerts viewers that, sooner or later, someone will be trapped inside it. The solution to the mystery is perhaps slightly far-fetched, but it should keep viewers guessing to the end. This episode is highly recommended to fans of the Charlie Chan series.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on August 8, 2011
Format: DVD
A mysterious person tries to get into the estate of Harper (Frank Reicher). The butler, Roth (Cyril Delevanti), asks who it is, but the person will not answer. The butler goes outside and suddenly their is a gunshot. It misses. Then a man who doesn't speak, Michael (Lester Dorr), comes up to see if the butler is all right.
Policeman Jim Kimble (Ralph Lewis) arrives and the mysterious person is able to sneak through the open gate. The butler tells the policeman to stay outside and look because his boss does not want the police inside. He is doing experiments.
The clever policeman pretends to leave out the gate, but stays behind with his motorcycle hiding in the brush. The policeman sneaks into the house. The two ladies of the house, Jean Kent (Janet Warren) and Stella Graham (Dorothy Granger), see the policeman, but say nothing.
Suddenly, Harper is killed by someone.
Charlie Chan is called to solve the case. Eddie #4 son (Edwin Luke) and Birmingham (Mantan Moreland) come along too.

Also in the cast: Alan Bridge, Hardie Albright, Cyril Delevanti, Edith Evanson, Jack Ingram, Danny Desmond.

Running tome: 66 minutes.

Sidney Toler in his 15th appearance as "Charlie Chan".

This is the first movie for Edwin Luke and his only "Chan" appearance.

Alan Bridge returned in Charlie Chan in Shadows Over Chinatown (1946). He also played a Sheriff in It's A Wonderful Life (Two-Disc Collector's Set) (B/W & Color) (1946) and a Tennis Judge in Strangers on a Train (Two-Disc Special Edition) (1951).

Next Mystery: Charlie Chan in The Scarlet Clue (1945)
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on February 26, 2009
Format: DVD
This is one of the strangest Charlie Chan films I've even seen, probably because many of the suspects were so weird. That, and the building in which most of the action takes place - with all its secret and motorized panels - is odd to see.

The story: an unpopular family member-a scientist, "Dr. Harper," (Frank Reicher) has developed a chemical that makes wood as strong as steel. Our government could use this, especially in time of war, so they are obviously concerned when the scientist is found murdered. They call on Charlie to help solve the case and get the formula.

Charlie winds up getting help from his Number Four Son "Eddie," someone I never saw in any other Chan films. He was the bespectacled "intellectual" son in the family and another likable Chan.

Anyway, someone is after the formula - for the money it could bring them - and is culprit is probably from the big family where the doctor was working. All of these people are portrayed as guilty-looking so the audience (you and me) has a hard time figuring out who's the killer.

The "whodunnit" is wrapped up in the end with a gathering of everyone while Chan explains his discoveries. Unlike most Chan films, however, the ending was unsatisfying and bit unrealistic.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on April 26, 2011
Format: DVDVerified Purchase
If you like television from the good ole days,you'll absolutely love this, it is truly a joy and a treat,I was a little hesitant about this one because of some of the reviews I read but it was better than I expected and I'm a longtime fan of Charlie Chan, I have no regrets for adding this to my collection and I'll be enjoying it over and over again, this is good.
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on February 14, 2014
Format: DVD
I am a major fan of the Charlie's Chan movies.
This was a popular movie series which lasted from the late 1920s up to the late 1940s.

The earlier movies were filmed at Fox Studios. They were always intended to be "B" movies, but the ones made at Fox have the higher production values. This includes the writing staff that provided scripts full of the witty " Chanisms" many people find so endearing. In these Fox movies, the Chan character was treated as an intelligent Asian Detective who was treated as a peer by the rest of the Characters.

The Jade Mask is one of the later movies in the series. It was filmed at Monogram studios. This was one of the "poverty row" studios. The Monogram movies were filmed on a substantially smaller budget , so the production values and especially the writing suffer.

The Monogram Movies also feature Mantan Moreland as a central character. Mr. Moreland is forced to play a character that reinforces many of the repugnant racial stereotypes of the period. His character is habitually frightened - depicted as not having quite enough courage or backbone. This character is incredibly "politically incorrect" by modern standards. Even though these are all G rated movies, parents should carefully preview these movies before exposing their children to them.

The Jade Mask is one of the least appealing of all the Charley Chan movies. It features one of the most preposterous plot points of any movie in the series. The elements that most people enjoy about th each an Movies are just not present in this one. This particular movie is dull and boring compared to the others.

The only reason someone would want to see this particular movie is if they insist on seeing ALL the movies in the series.
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on February 15, 2013
Format: DVDVerified Purchase
This movie gets off to a murderous start, but then, don't they all? In this one, the victim is a well-hated scientist who is disliked by just about everyone except, it would appear, for the butler. Everyone is sort of after his formula for a gas that makes wood as hard as iron. When the scientist is discovered as having contracted a severe case of rigor mortis with overt symptoms of homicide, the government sends in Charlie Chan to not only recover the formula but find out "whodunnit!" As in a lot of the later Sydney Toler movies, he's helped(?) by one of his offspring and Birmingham Brown (Mantan Moreland). As in several movies, such as Meeting At Midnight,Charlie Chan: In the Secret Service/The Chinese Cat/The Jade Mask, and many others, the younger Chan and Birmingham somehow manage to be of some assistance, in spite their rather comical bumbling efforts.
In "The Jade Mask" Charlie seems to be as welcome as the now-dead scientist was. The sheriff (Alan Bridge) has about the best dialogue in the movie, even commenting that he should have kept his big mouth shut when asked to become sheriff. However, in the end, a couple of people have a real gas of a time, but Charlie proves he's no dummy. The title of the movie, by the way, refers to several masks made of the inhabitants of the house. The scientist had them made to help the police if anything should happen. Strangely enough, this is exactly what happens. I loved the ending, where Birmingham Brown gives the sheriff a run for his money. I think you'll like it, too.
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