CHARLIE CHAN AT THE OPERA (1937)
Article #688 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing date: 2-1-2003
Posting date: 7-1-2003
Directed by H. Bruce Humberstone
Featuring Warner Oland, Boris Karloff, Keye Luke
Charlie Chan investigates a death threat against an opera singer.
Generally, when a horror star appears in a mystery movie, he turns out to be an obvious red herring. I’m not going to say whether Karloff is one or not, but I will say that the movie does take the care not to make him an obvious one. In fact, the movie seems to take quite a bit of care all around; it looks like a lot of work went into the opera sequences, and the characters are a little more fleshed out than they usually are. Karloff’s definitely is, and his presence is definitely a highlight of the movie, as are Warner Oland’s (in the title role, of course) and William Demarest’s, who makes several appearances as a police detective. The presence of Karloff definitely inspired a bit of the horror touches at the beginning of the movie, and there is of course the seemingly obligatory reference to FRANKENSTEIN that seems to pop up in any non-horror movie Karloff made at the time. There is an amusing sequence where Demarest tries to pick out Keye Luke from among a number of knights in shining armor.