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The Shanghai Cobra (1945)

Sidney Toler , Mantan Moreland , Phil Karlson  |  NR |  DVD
3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Actors: Sidney Toler, Mantan Moreland, Benson Fong, James Cardwell, Joan Barclay
  • Directors: Phil Karlson
  • Writers: Earl Derr Biggers, George Callahan, George Wallace Sayre
  • Producers: James S. Burkett
  • Format: Black & White, Full Screen, NTSC, Subtitled
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 1.0)
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish, French
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: MGM (Video & DVD)
  • DVD Release Date: July 6, 2004
  • Run Time: 64 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00020X870
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #161,719 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "The Shanghai Cobra" on IMDb

Special Features


Editorial Reviews

From the director of Kansas City Confidential and The Silencers comes this universal Chan mystery. Containing a number of film noir elements unique to the series (such as a weary young detective, stark urban sets and a grown-up romance), The Shanghai Cobra is one of the most striking Chans of all! Charlie Chan (Sidney Toler) is called to investigate a strange and complicated series of mysterious murders by cobra venom. Soon Charlie, Number Three Son Tommy (Benson Fong) and ever-present assistant Birmhingham Brown are on the trail of an escaped con from Shanghai who's out to rob a government vault of its valuable contents: highly toxic radium!

Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
22 of 23 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Cobra Venom Is The Weapon August 25, 2002
Format:VHS Tape
The killer uses venom from a cobra to eliminate his victims in this film. Sidney Toler plays Chan and the cast includes Benson Fong as Tommie Chan and Manton Moreland in the role of Birmingham Brown. Fong and Moreland are really quite good as a comic team. George Callahan and George Wallace Sayre handle the screen play. THE SHANGHAI COBRA is one of the better entries in the Chan series.
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars By Far The Best Monogram Chan movie February 10, 2002
Format:VHS Tape
"The Shanghai Cobra" is my favorite of the Monogram Charlie Chans. It is beautifully atmospheric in the opening scenes, and I think Phil Karlson, the director (his first of two Chan outings, the other being "Dark Alibi" [1946]which is also worth watching)adds alot of these great effects, making it an enjoyable mystery that will keep you guessing. The comedy in this entry is superb with a wordplay gag about "u-turns" running all through the film. The sets and the noticable shadows and darkness make it almost like a "film noir" movie. Some action takes place in the sewers below the bank that they are doing investigations in(more darkness.)I also enjoyed the "flashback" when they showed Charlie Chan in his visit to Shanghai in '36 and '37. A fun film, a good mystery, and atmospheric at the same time, I would recommend this film highly to any Charlie Chan fan. Excuse, Please...
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20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars One of the best Chans, and miraculous for a Monogram November 8, 1999
Format:VHS Tape
Low-budget Monogram Pictures usually did a serviceable job with its Charlie Chan mysteries, but this one is exceptional. Thoughtful direction (by Phil Karlson) and excellent camerawork (by Vincent Farrar) give the film far more atmosphere and production polish than usual. You'll notice, as early as the opening scene, the imaginative staging and camera angles, unusual sets, and clever technical gimmicks, all enhancing the excellent film-noir-style presentation. Series regulars Sidney Toler, Benson Fong, and Mantan Moreland are in good form, aided by a fine cast of familiar character actors (Joan Woodbury, James Cardwell, Addison Richards, George Chandler, and a host of others). If you've never seen a Monogram Chan, try this.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars This is one of the better Monogram Chans. August 21, 1999
Format:VHS Tape
This mystery concerns the murder of several victims by cobra bites. It has Mantan Moreland and Benson Fong again getting into trouble as usual. The criminals' objective is to rob a bank vault of a valuable government depository of radium. The viewer must follow the plot closely since the denouement when Chan finally corners the leader occurs rapidly. This film uses the new invention of television well as part of the criminals' devices. The running gag in this film concerns Birmingham getting an illegal U-turn ticket and saying "But you said 'No, you turn here! So I turned!'" At the end of the film, Chan himself gets an illegal U-turn ticket and uses the same excuse to the inspector. "But you say 'No, you turn here!' and everybody ends up laughing. Classic Chan line is "Cannot sell bear skin before shooting bear".
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "No, U Turn Here!" June 19, 2009
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
Those Charlie Chan fans who only consider the topflight series at Fox worth watching, dismissing the "B" films made after Sidney Toler bought the rights to Earl Derr Biggers' famous detective and took him to Poverty Row, are truly missing out on some great fun. While it is true some of the films were marginal "B" yarns, a few were solid entries, and a couple were stellar efforts. The Shanghai Cobra is so good in fact, it easily ranks as one of the most enjoyable in the entire series.

The opening scene on a rainy night sets an atmospheric tone to this fun Chan entry, marked with humor, more action than usual, a pretty nifty little mystery, and some excellent sets which director Phil Karlson makes the most of. An interesting device of an unseen girl behind a diner jukebox occasionally gives the viewer a sense of watching an audience, watching a Charlie Chan film! It not only adds to the fun in the screenplay from George Callahan and George Wallace Sayre, but proves an integral part in solving the Cobra part of the mystery.

Nicely photographed by Vincent Farrar for Monogram, the opening sequence catches a woman following a man into a diner on a rainy night, and before it's over, the man will be the latest victim of a killer who dispatches his victims with cobra venom. The killings date all the way back to 1937 Shanghai, when Charlie brought in a suspect, only to lose him during Japanese bombings. Only Charlie, now working for the US Government, has ever seen him, so is quickly summoned to help. Adding fun to this quite serious task is Benson Fong as Charlie's son Tommy, and Mantan Moreland as Birmingham.

Chan is quite suspicious that all those murdered work for the same bank.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars One of Toler's Best Performances as Charlie Chan March 17, 2005
Format:VHS Tape
Obviously the Chan movies made at Monogram could never compare to those made at Fox with Warner Oland, but of these, The Shanghai Cobra is one of the best. Several employees of a bank have been murdered by a killer dubbed "The Cobra Killer" for his use of cobra venom in dispatching his enemies. Chan is called in to solve the murders.

Director Phil Karlson really gets the most out of the limited budget he had to work with and this film looks much better than most Monogram films with better production values and superior acting. The mystery is also very well done and keeps your interest in trying to figure out who the murderer is. Benson Fong and the always enjoyable Mantan Moreland provide the comic relief as #3 son Tommy Chan and Birmingham Brown respectively. Moreland brings life to every role he is in.

As a kid I would love staying up late and watching these with my dad who was a huge fan. We watched several together when Turner Classic was running them a couple of years ago or so and I was so disappointed when they decided to pull them off the air. These were always very entertaining.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
2.0 out of 5 stars Two Stars
the dvd started playing ok, but half way started intermitting as the chinese cat.
Published 3 months ago by Thomas N.
4.0 out of 5 stars The Shanghai Cobra
i really enjoyed this film. love Sidney Toler as Chan. It also has increased my Charlie Chan collection.Need more to finish collection
Published 4 months ago by colin williams
3.0 out of 5 stars The Shanghai Cobra
This was an almost unbelievable story of people being killed by Copra venom. The mysterious jukebox is to blame. Read more
Published 5 months ago by Nancy L McPherson
4.0 out of 5 stars Parents
This is a good murder mystery and it help keep the parents and others out of my way when I am cleaning
Published 13 months ago by Tanya Pownall
5.0 out of 5 stars Charlie Chan
I enjoy all the Charlie Chan movies. They are very entertaning to watch. Good movies are hard to find today.
Published 14 months ago by Cindy
5.0 out of 5 stars Charlie Chan
I like all of Sidney Toler's Charlie Chan movies.He is Charlie Chan the same way Sean Conery is James Bond.
Published 16 months ago by Donald C.
4.0 out of 5 stars Liked it very much
It's a form of comfort food for the mind. Things were much simpler then, but not for the people living in those times: they had all the hopes and fears we have now. Read more
Published 20 months ago by E. Kienzle
4.0 out of 5 stars A fun story-line to this mystery.
This story, I think is one of my favorites of the Monogram entries. I realize that the budget for the Charlie Chan Films was considerably streamed down when they were produced... Read more
Published on September 28, 2012 by Lawrence Nepodahl
3.0 out of 5 stars It's OK
I have the most of the Charlie Chan movies in my collection. This was a bit weak in content. Not the usual good stuff I have come to expect!
Published on December 8, 2011 by Michael Kelly
5.0 out of 5 stars Did they have cams in 1945?
It's a rainy night. Two sly people, Mr. Black (Stephen Gregory) and Paula (Joan Barclay) met each other in a cafe owned by Joe (George Chandler). Paula needs to tell Mr. Read more
Published on August 14, 2011 by James McDonald
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