Charlie Chan at the Circus (1936)

71-72 mins | Drama | 27 March 1936

Director:

Harry Lachman

Cinematographer:

Daniel B. Clark

Editor:

Alex Troffey

Production Designer:

Duncan Cramer

Production Company:

Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp.
Full page view
HISTORY

According to HR news items and production charts, June Lang and John Dilson were to be in the cast, but their participation in the final film has not been confirmed. According to a HR news item, the film was shot "on location at the Al G. Barnes winter quarters," and a MPH pre-release article states that "the Barnes Circus [was] used as a background for production settings." For additional information about the series, please consult the Series Index and see the entry below for Charlie Chan Carries On. ...

More Less

According to HR news items and production charts, June Lang and John Dilson were to be in the cast, but their participation in the final film has not been confirmed. According to a HR news item, the film was shot "on location at the Al G. Barnes winter quarters," and a MPH pre-release article states that "the Barnes Circus [was] used as a background for production settings." For additional information about the series, please consult the Series Index and see the entry below for Charlie Chan Carries On.

Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
21 Mar 1936
---
Daily Variety
12 Mar 1936
p. 3
Film Daily
17 Mar 1936
p. 9
Hollywood Reporter
6 Jan 1936
p. 11
Hollywood Reporter
7 Jan 1936
p. 4
Hollywood Reporter
27 Jan 1936
p. 11
Hollywood Reporter
8 Feb 1936
p. 2
Hollywood Reporter
12 Mar 1936
p. 3
Motion Picture Daily
6 Mar 1936
p. 10
Motion Picture Herald
15 Feb 1936
p. 29
Motion Picture Herald
28 Mar 1936
p. 41
New York Times
19 Mar 1936
p. 22
Variety
25 Mar 1936
p. 15
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
PRODUCER
Assoc prod
WRITERS
Orig scr, Orig scr
Orig scr, Orig scr
PHOTOGRAPHY
ART DIRECTOR
Art dir
FILM EDITOR
Film ed
COSTUMES
MUSIC
Mus dir
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the character "Charlie Chan" created by Earl Derr Biggers.
LITERARY SOURCE AUTHOR
DETAILS
Series:
Release Date:
27 March 1936
Premiere Information:
New York opening: week of 18 Mar 1936
Production Date:
began 6 Jan 1936; retakes early Feb 1936
Copyright Info
Claimant
Date
Copyright Number
Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp.
27 March 1936
LP6492
Physical Properties:
Sound
Western Electric Noiseless Recording
Black and White
Duration(in mins):
71-72
Length(in feet):
6,500
Length(in reels):
7
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
1978
SYNOPSIS

Charlie Chan takes his wife and twelve children to the circus owned by kindly John Gaines and his unscrupulous partner, Joe Kinney. Kinney tells Chan that he has been receiving death threats, after which Kinney and Gaines quarrel over money. Kinney then tries to discipline Caesar, the circus' ape, but the handler, Hal Blake, warns Kinney that he treats Caesar too roughly. Hal seeks solace from his girl friend, Louise Norman, whose sister, aerialist Marie, is Kinney's fiancée. As the show goes on, Chan leaves his family to meet Kinney and discuss his problems. When he arrives at Kinney's wagon, however, Chan, Gaines, and dancing midgets Tim and Tiny discover that Kinney has been murdered. Because the wagon was locked from the inside, and because of the hairs found on the window sill, the others suspect that Caesar climbed through the window and killed Kinney. Chan, however, withholds judgement and turns the case over to Lieutenant Macy, then leaves with his family to continue their vacation. Later that night, however, Tiny appears at their hotel and pleads with Chan to continue the investigation to clear Tim and Gaines, who are being held for questioning. Chan convinces Macy to release Tim and Gaines and to allow the circus to travel on, in hopes that the killer will reveal himself as time passes. Chan, his son Lee and Macy travel with the circus and, despite an attempt on Chan's life that night, reach their destination the next day. They discover that the business wagon's safe has been broken into, and in the safe they find Kinney's insurance policy, naming Marie as ...

More Less

Charlie Chan takes his wife and twelve children to the circus owned by kindly John Gaines and his unscrupulous partner, Joe Kinney. Kinney tells Chan that he has been receiving death threats, after which Kinney and Gaines quarrel over money. Kinney then tries to discipline Caesar, the circus' ape, but the handler, Hal Blake, warns Kinney that he treats Caesar too roughly. Hal seeks solace from his girl friend, Louise Norman, whose sister, aerialist Marie, is Kinney's fiancée. As the show goes on, Chan leaves his family to meet Kinney and discuss his problems. When he arrives at Kinney's wagon, however, Chan, Gaines, and dancing midgets Tim and Tiny discover that Kinney has been murdered. Because the wagon was locked from the inside, and because of the hairs found on the window sill, the others suspect that Caesar climbed through the window and killed Kinney. Chan, however, withholds judgement and turns the case over to Lieutenant Macy, then leaves with his family to continue their vacation. Later that night, however, Tiny appears at their hotel and pleads with Chan to continue the investigation to clear Tim and Gaines, who are being held for questioning. Chan convinces Macy to release Tim and Gaines and to allow the circus to travel on, in hopes that the killer will reveal himself as time passes. Chan, his son Lee and Macy travel with the circus and, despite an attempt on Chan's life that night, reach their destination the next day. They discover that the business wagon's safe has been broken into, and in the safe they find Kinney's insurance policy, naming Marie as the beneficiary, and a marriage certificate stating that Kinney and wardrobe mistress Nellie Farrell were married in Juarez, Mexico on 30 May. The trio later confronts Nellie and her brother Dan, and Nellie asserts that, as Kinney's widow, she is entitled to his half of the circus. Marie retorts that Nellie's claim is false, as Kinney could not have been in Juarez on that date, but before she can offer proof, she has to perform her act. While Marie is in the air, someone shoots her rigging and she falls to the ground. She is seriously injured and the doctor Chan summons states that she must be operated on immediately. While the doctor is tending to Marie, Chan looks through her scrapbook and discovers that on 30 May, Kinney was being held as a witness to a murder in El Paso. While Lee telephones the El Paso police for more information, Caesar is released from his cage. Caesar attempts to kill Marie during the operation but is caught, after which Chan reveals that it is not the true Caeser who was apprehended, but snake handler Tom Holt, disguised as the ape. The police confirm that Holt was the killer in El Paso, and Chan deduces that Kinney covered up for Holt but was later murdered by Holt when they quarreled over money. Holt then attempted to murder Marie, who is safely recovering at a hospital, because she could reveal the El Paso incident. Holt is arrested, along with Nellie and Dan, who forged the marriage certificate after Kinney's death. Gaines promises Chan lifetime passes to the circus as a reward for his help, and Lee romances Su Toy, a pretty Asian contortionist whom he had been pursuing throughout the investigation.

Less

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

TOP SEARCHES

Down Three Dark Streets

The film's working title was Case File: FBI . The Gordons was a joint name under which husband and wife Gordon and Mildred Gordon wrote the novel on ... >>

Singin' in the Rain

According to a 5 Feb 1951 HR news item, Carleton Carpenter was to co-star in the film with Gene Kelly and Debbie Reynolds, and a 19 Mar ... >>

Written on the Wind

According to contemporary sources, Robert Wilder’s novel Written on the Wind was inspired by the notorious 1932 death of Zachary Smith Reynolds, millionaire son of tobacco ... >>

Psycho

Actor Vaughn Taylor's surname is misspelled "Tayler" in the onscreen credits. Several Jun and Jul 1959 HR news items erroneously refer to the film as Psyche. ... >>

Gone with the Wind

[ Note from the Editors : the following information is based on contemporary news items, feature articles, reviews, interviews, memoranda and corporate records. Information obtained from modern sources ... >>

The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.