39 stories were made-
1 Your Money or your Wife
2 Secret of the Sea
3 The Lost Face
4 Blind Man's Bluff
10 The Rajput Ruby
11 Final Curtain
12 Death at High Tide
13 Circle of Fear
14 Exhibit in Wax
20 The Noble Art of Murder
21 Three Men on a Raft
22 No Holiday for Murder
23 No Future for Frederick
24 Safe Deposit
30 The Invalid
31 Man in the Wall
32 Something Old Something New
33 Man with 100 Faces
34 Point of no Return
5 The Great Salvos
6 The Counterfeiters
7 Death of a Don
8 Charlie's Highland Fling
9 The Patient in Room 21
16 Patron of the Arts
17 Hamlet in Flames
18 Dateline- Execution
19 The Sweater
25 Voodoo Death
26 The Expatriate
27 Airport Murder Case
28 Hand of Hera Dass
29 Chippendale Racket
35 A Bowl by Cellini
36 Without Fear
38 Rhyme or Treason
39 Three for One
This was rather a stodgy series, illumined by the obviously barbed comments between the great detective and his Number One Son, who usually puts his foot into it.
Barry Chan appears in 25 of the stories: Nos. 4 to 13, 15 to 17, 20, 22, 24 to 33.
After stories 1 to 5 had been filmed in USA in March 1957, production moved to England, J Carrol Naish travelling to Britain from New York at the start of April 1957.
Some limited location shooting was done in other European countries in which stories were set:
France: Story 6 (Paris) and 12, Brussels: 16, 20 and 22, Amsterdam: 19, Rome: 27, 35 and 37,Venice: 33 and 34.
Best episode: #33 Man with 100 Faces. Alan Wheatley said that this was one of his favourite roles.
Dud episode: #2 Secret of the Sea- though nearly all the American-made stories are poor.
Best moments are Charlie Chan's pithy sayings.
Here's one from
"Pleasant memory like the scent of jasmine- remains long after one has departed the scene."
Here's my complete list.
To TV Crime Menu
Pithy comments by the great Charlie Chan, as uttered in this series.
The number before each quote indicates the programme in which the saying was given.
1- "Even the frightened fawn is aware of the hunter that seeks its life."
1- "When heart is full of tears, there's no room for understanding."
2- "If one hibiscus bloom in a field withers and dies, it could be accidental weakness, but not when more than one is affected."
2- "Love is like a blacksmith's hammer- it can shape the white hot steel of emotion for both good and evil."
2- "Detection, and the making of good coffee, sometimes requires the same ingredient- the proper amount of heat to bring about the desired result."
2- "When a man reaches age of serenity, comfort comes from within."
2- "A beautiful woman is like a delicate flower that adds color to the most drab occasion."
3- "When a shepherd discovers three of his flock slaughtered, he usually looks for the wolf."
3- "When a tree is weighted down with the snows of
adversity, who is there to say when the limb will break?"
3- "Not even the sound of a thousand children's voices can replace the sight of one smudge of dirt on a little rosy cheek."
3- "Only a fool enters the darkness of a bear's cave without at least the illumination of a tiny candle."
3- "Even strongest tree needs support in a violent storm."
3- "A boulder of suspicion cannot stop an avalanche of justice."
3- "Only a fool enters the darkness of a bear's cave without at least the illumination of a tiny candle."
4- "Sometimes pity like precious pearl, dissolves in wine of truth."
5- "When door of mind is unlocked, strangers bearing rich gifts are often visitor."
5- "The patient man accomplishes much, for the impatient man there is never time enough."
6- "Silence often speaks louder than words."
6- "Detectives like busmen must also have holiday."
7- "Very few people have natural appetite for eating crow."
7- "Fading flower no longer attracts bee."
8- "Man can be without vice, but never without temptation."
8- "In business of crime detection, mind like umbrella- only functions when open."
9- "Mutual alibi like teacup, does not always hold water."
9- "Like broken Ming vase, uneasy conscience very difficult to mend."
10- "Old romance like cat, sometimes has nine lives."
10- "First sign of age, when man cannot tie shoe from standing position."
10- "Secret romance like dead ant in pepperpot- very often difficult to detect."
13- "Patience like sleeping flower, cultivate same and it will reward you handsomely"
14- "One hour's conversation with superior person better than many year's study."
14- "Small but high storey buildings rise from gradual accumulation of small bricks."
14- "Knowledge is the only medicine to cure itch of curiosity."
15- "One pinch of aristocracy added to small mind, makes fat head."
16- "In contemplation of eternal beauty, one catches glimpse of eternal truth."
16- "Small acorn of today grows into towering tree of tomorrow."
16- "Arrival of good fortune is like return of long delayed ship- one hardly dares think it is not a mirage."
16- "A sheep herder is always suspicious of strange sheep, because under sheepskin might be wolf."
16 - "When harsh wind smashes egg of nightingale to ground, many beautiful songs die for ever."
17- "Impatience is a disease of the young, can only be cured by old age."
17- "Like retired firehorse who smells smoke, I cannot resist the lure of police hq."
18- "Subway like ancient Chinese puzzle."
18- "Even smallest drop of rain gives hope to parched flower."
18- "Jealousy destroys all reason."
19- "Loss of a loved one is difficult even for strongest shoulders."
19- "Old Chinese saying, Never argue while looking in mouth of tiger."
19- "Things of beauty, lovely ladies included, are joy for ever."
20- "Impatience is sometimes like a large stone in pathway- can trip you up."
20- "Words in jest often lead to misunderstanding."
21- "Patience can find smallest needle in largest haystack."
21- "When trap is well baited, no need for hunter to spring same."
22- "Two birds on branch sing sweetly, but another changes melody to discord."
23- "Truth, even when hidden at bottom of well, must be pursued until revealed."
23- "Most lovely ladies do not take life, they give it to mankind."
24- "If traffic becomes puzzlingly heavy, sometimes indirect route leads more quickly to destination."
24- "Clever placement of bait by fisherman often lands large juicy mackerel."
24- "Sometimes youthful heart is closed book to adult mind."
24- "Beyond face of anger is often face of fear."
25- "Ancient saying: never bet on unsure thing."
25- "A loyal friend is like rare white jade from ancient Honsu period, both are beyond price."
25 - "A cup of tea on rising is almost preferable to handful of emeralds."
25 - "Like ageing spinster, I am getting too old to blush becomingly."
25 - "Never bet on unsure thing."
26- "Like finding real chicken in cafeteria coup, your confession is most surprising."
26- "Beautiful woman becomes a thousandfold more beautiful when she wears jewel of kindness."
27- "Obvious answer is not always solution to crime."
28- "Man is optimistic creature who forever expects tap on door to foretell arrival of beauty."
29- "Coincidence, which is occasionally very pleasant as a dish, is not palatable as a steady diet."
30- "Anger so soon after lunch very bad for indigestion."
30- "Best way to catch fish is not to disturb water."
31- "Man in iron suit no good for dancing- cannot get feet off ground"
31- "Truth cures many things, it's very possible truth could also cure all ills of world."
32- "Rarely does one hear roar of lion come out of mouse's throat."
32- "In moments of peril, even small mouse will bite."
32- "Politeness like old wine, improves many occasions."
33- "Man who sees dawn, sees beauty; but man who sees sunset, survives the day."
34- "Reputation like small bottle, cast into sea, should reach such distant shores."
34- "Sometimes mask of simplicity hides face of fathomless mystery."
37- "When you are hunting tiger, it is not wise to bring down a jackal, because this might warn larger beast who seeks safety in jungle."
37- "Bigger the oath, greater the liar."
39- "When two and two equals five, then it is logical to suspect that one has been added."
39- "Tide of good fortunes change when least expected."
(I couldn't find any good Chan sayings in #35 or #38)
To Chan Menu
Secret of the Sea
Charlie Chan is in San Pedro. "Something big" is destined to happen on the Honolulu Star, reports an informer, who is shot dead.
Charlie investigates the murder of this man, a steward on the ship. Thus we find Charlie bound for a "calm, uneventful voyage," at least that's what Captain Paul Carnovan promises him. But there are plenty of suspicious characters of course, the clumsy steward who has replaced the dead man, Ed Barker radio signaller, as well as the incompetent chief engineer Johnny Flynn. One of the other rare passengers is Doris, wife of the captain, and much younger than him. Oddly she wears high heels on board.
When the engine seizes up 200 miles out to sea, and the crew cannot find the cause, it's Chan who points out the source of the trouble, "loaded with dirt." Flynn is sent for to get a piece of the captain's mind but he's found "extremely dead." The captain has no choice but radio for help, which is soon forthcoming from a ship out of Acapulco commanded by Arturo Ramirez. It's an expensive operation, with the salvage bill coming to $150,000.
So has Carnovan colluded with Ramirez to share this absurdly large fee? Maybe not, as Lt Kovacs and Chan arrive in the nick of time to prevent Carnovan from shooting Ramirez! Their dispute is over the attractive Doris, has she been two-timing? "He didn't do anything," Doris promises her husband as he bursts into tears. Asks Ramirez, "tell me what's going on. I don't get any of this." That goes for me too.
Charlie "straightens" him, though not me, out, expounding his theory of collusion between Ramirez and someone on the Honolulu Star. But if it wasn't Cpt Carnovan, who was it?
A gun persuades Charlie to search no further. But some exceptionally clumsy feinting from Chan incredibly enables him to snatch the dangerous gun and arrest the accomplice. "You explain things very well." Allegedly
To Chan Menu
Pan Am Flight 654 from New York lands at London Airport with distinguished passenger Charlie Chan, accompanied by No1 Son Barry, for the first of their European based adventures.
(It had been stated Charlie was flying to Madrid in the previous story, but who cares?)
Greeting him is Inspector Duff (Patrick Holt, later in the series to be transformed into Rupert Davies) who wants Charlie to investigate the theft of a French currency plate from a venerable London firm of banknote engravers. The pompous manager of the firm, Sir John (John Loder) tells Charlie how a courier had produced documents which later proved to be forged, and carried off the 5,000 franc plate. Forged notes will soon be causing a crisis in France! "Wow, what a natural!" exclaims No1 Son. Charlie translates for his British hosts.
Speeding to Paris, Charlie shows the police the forged papers which are identified as the work of Spanish Roy, a valuable member of the orange Circuit resistance during the war, trained to be a forger. "The man's a genius," admits Inspector Chauvet.
No1 Son tries to find Roy at a cafe where he's quickly relieved of his passport. "I'm looking for Spanish Roy, he's a shoemaker," explains Barry, not realising he is, by chance, addressing the very man. Later Barry realises his blunder, when Roy responds to Charlie's invitation to talk. But as they talk a bullet flies through the window, aimed at Spanish Roy. Luckily a pocket chess set saves his life, but the incident seems to decide him not to talk after all. Though Roy is arrested Charlie secures his release, but this favour still won't budge him "I'm still not talking." Charlie surmises Roy forged the documents for a friend, an old resistance leader, perhaps. Michel is the name, but Roy won't reveal his real identity.
However he changes his mind later and as Charlie is not there, hands Barry an envelope with Michel's real name. In absence of honourable dad, Barry hands it to Sir John. We all know who he really is, of course. All except Barry that is. "We know who's behind the gang," No1 Son naively informs Sir John, who scribbles a note for No1 Son to take to police, and there Barry is arrested.
At the old underground headquarters Charlie comes face to face with Michel. Why did you do it? asks Charlie. Sir John explains he wanted to pit his wits against the best, ie Chan. But his ex-colleagues are disiilusioned with such behaviour and mete out their own very summary justice.
Charlie returns Spanish Roy's chess set to him
To Chan Menu
Death of a Don
No1 Son is studying at the famous Stratford University (perhaps for a degree in The Olympics?!), and has made friends with music student Derek Robinson (Francis Matthews). Derek is at loggerheads with his professor Dr Don Welman (John Bailey) who scorns the young man's soulful compositions, "you call that music!" He "lacks talent" and writes "undisciplined drivel," in other words Dr Welman doesn't go for avant garde stuff at all. Goaded, poor Derek responds to the stinging remarks, "you're dead, washed up, living in the past, there's nothing in the future for people like you, except death." Armed with such a line, we await the inevitable murder.
Derek is rusticated for such rudeness. When introduced to Charlie, the wise advice is "apologise."
Derek attempts to do so, when he catches up with Welman who's at a show I'm In a Dancing Mood at the Palace Theatre. Musical director is Jack Pearson (William Franklyn) and Janet Rushton (Betty McDowall) is his leading lady. She's Dr Welman's ex-wife. He's come to seek a reconciliation, but she tells him, "it's no use."
The show must go on anyway. It appears to be a mixture of ballet, not to Charlie's taste, and music of the nations.
During the interval Welman offers to resign from his post if she will come back to him. While No1 Son and honourable dad enjoy some frenzied dancing to bongo drums, Derek goes backstage to apologise to Welman. But he stumbles over his enemy, stabbed to death.
"Murder, call the police!" shouts a stagehand, and the show doesn't go on any more.
Of course Derek is chief suspect, though Charlie points out to the dim inspector that Janet Rushton might also have a motive, as does Jack Pearson, who seems smitten with Janet, although he had been conducting the orchesta at the time of the killing.
The murder weapon cannot be found. According to forensic evidence, it must have been a round object about the thickness of a pencil. "Everything now quite clear," pronounces Charlie.
It is to Barry too, for in Janet's dressing room he thinks he has found the weapon, a hat pin. So we know that eliminates her! "Case already closed," Charlie informs No1 Son bluntly.
For Charlie is now moving in to corner the killer during the next performance of the show. He had spotted what had been overlooked. Barry does redeem himself by felling the fleeing murderer.
Thus Derek is reinstated at the university and Charlie bids farewell to No1 Son, who is to continue his studies. Barry remembers dad's birthday is coming up, so shouts to Charlie's departing taxi, asking him what he'd like. Bongos, comes back the wise answer.
One of the better stories, I liked the banter twixt Charlie and his hopeful son. Maybe, in view of the final scene, this was once intended to be Barry's final appearance in the series?
To Chan Menu