The Phantom of Chinatown (1940)

Conspiratorial Filmmaking

I maintain that some very important conventions were worked out in 30s mysteries. The Charlie Chan series was instrumental in some of these, and this is the last of them. It incidentally has Charlie’s son as the detective, the first Asian playing the character.

The sensitivity to Chinese culture is no better than in the earlier movies, but that is a side issue for me. The wanted item here is a map to a vast oil deposit, discovered and stolen in the style of mummy movies.

The interesting device is the use of a movie within the movie. The expedition had a filmmaker along whose filming gets mixed with conspiracy. The ancient scroll gets destroyed and converted to photographs.

Posted in 2015

Ted’s Evaluation — 2 of 3: Has some interesting elements.


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