Charlie Chan at the Race Track
Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corporation
Century-Fox Film Corporation, August 7, 1936
Production: May 18 to mid-June 1936
Copyright: Twentieth Century-Fox
Film Corporation, August 7, 1936; LP6667
Sound: Western Electric Noiseless Recording
Film: Black and white
7 reels, 6,300 feet
Running Time: 70 minutes
Production Code Administration Certificate Number: 2353
on the character "Charlie Chan" created by Earl Derr Biggers
Director: H. Bruce Humberstone
Assistant Director: Aaron Rosenberg
Screenplay: Robert Ellis, Helen Logan, and Edward T. Lowe
Story: Lou Breslow and Saul Elkins
Art Direction: Duncan Cramer
Film Editor: Nick DeMaggio
Sound: Alfred Bruzlin and Harry M. Leonard
Musical Direction: Samuel Kaylin
Contributing Writer: Joseph Hoffman (not credited)
Technical Director: Monroe Liebgold (not credited)
Cameraman: Lucien Andriot (not credited)
Warner Oland: Charlie Chan
Keye Luke: Lee Chan
Helen Wood: Alice Fenton
Thomas Beck: Bruce Rogers
Alan Dinehart: George Chester
Gavin Muir: Bagley
Gloria Roy: Catherine Chester
Hale: Warren Fenton
G.P. Huntley, Jr.: Denny Barton
George Irving: Major [Gordon] Kent
Frank Coghlan, Jr.: Eddie
Frankie Darro: "Tip" Collins
John Rogers: Mooney
John H. Allen: "Streamline" Jones
Harry Jans: Al Meers
Robert Warwick: Honolulu Police Chief Inspector (not credited)
Billy Wayne: Smithers (not credited)
Sam Flint: Ship's Captain [Captain Blake] (not
Selmer Jackson: J.L. Lansing (not credited)
Ivan "Dusty" Miller: Captain Wade (not credited)
Detective (not credited)
George Magrill: Detective (not credited)
David Worth: Detective (not credited)
James Flavin: Detective (not credited)
Harry Strang: Detective (not credited)
Al Kikume: Detective (not credited)
Howard: Ship's Doctor [Dr. Johnson] (not credited)
Sidney Bracey: Waiter (not credited)
Jack Mulhall: Second Purser
William Wayne: Seaman (not credited)
Les Srechley: Seaman (not credited)
Billie Oakley: Seaman (not credited)
Charles Williams: Reporter #1 (not credited)
Eddie Fetherston: Reporter #2 (not credited)
Max Wagner: Joe (not credited)
Jerry Jerome: Chuck (not credited)
Harlan Tucker: Gangster (not credited)
Sammy Finn: Gangster (not credited)
Wilbur Mack: Gangster (not credited)
Norman Willis: Gangster (not credited)
Paul Fix: Lefty (not credited)
Holmes Herbert: Melbourne Cup Chief Steward (not credited)
Colin Kenny: Judge (not credited)
Robert E. Homans: Judge (not credited)
H. Bruce Humberstone: Gambler (not credited)
Lew Hicks: Policeman (not credited)
Bob Ellsworth: Policeman (not credited)
Lucille Miller: Secretary (not credited)
Eagles: Chick Patton (not credited)
Bobby Tanzel: Gilroy (not credited)
Bruce Mitchell: Gateman (not credited)
McAtee: "Blackton" man (not credited)
Jack Green: "Blackton" man (not credited)
Pat O'Malley: Track Official (not credited)
Tom McGuire: Track Official (not credited)
David Thursby: Steward (not credited)
Forrest Taylor: Photo Booth Worker (not credited)
Ray Hanson: Third Officer (not credited)
Sam Hayes: Track Announcer (not credited)
Cyril Ring: Race Track Extra (not credited)
Larry Steers: Railbird (not credited)
Neil Fitzgerald (not credited)
Josephine the monkey: Lollipop (not credited)
John Mooney (?) (not credited)
After jockey "Tip" Collins, riding Avalanche, the horse in the lead in the Melbourne Sweepstakes,
fouls another rider, Avalanche is disqualified. Major Gordon Kent, who gave Avalanche as a wedding present to the internationally
known American sportsman George Chester when Chester married his daughter Catherine, believes that a big gambling ring is
behind the flagrant foul.
The major then has a telegram sent to his old friend, Charlie Chan, requesting the detective
to meet their boat in Honolulu on their way to compete in America. However, during the voyage, Kent dies, seemingly
from being kicked by Avalanche in the horse's stall.
Upon the arrival of the ship in Honolulu, Chan conducts an investigation
of Kent's death, and determines from the position and shape of the blood spatters in the stall that the horse could not have
kicked the major. Chan reveals to his chief and to the ship's captain a piece of the ship's winch, a winch shoe, the
twin of which is missing, which could make the same impression as that of a horse's shoe. Chan's chief suggests that
the detective travel with the boat to investigate what they now suspect is a murder.
Aboard ship, Chester receives
a typed note warning him not to enter Avalanche in the Santa Juanita Handicap. Chan's son, Lee, who, against his father's
wishes, got on the boat as a cabin boy, later determines that the note was typed on the typewriter of Major Kent's competitor,
Warren Fenton. At Chan's instruction, Lee makes sure that a number of other passengers also receive notes: Fenton, who
had offered Chester $20,000 for the horse; Bruce Rogers, Kent's assistant, who is in love with Fenton's daughter, Alice; gambler
Denny Barton, who also loves Alice, but whom she has rebuked; and Chester again.
A fire breaks out in the forward
hold where Avalanche is being kept. After it is brought under control, although Chester sees it as yet another warning,
Chan finds evidence suggesting that it was set as a diversion. Chester requests his gun, and when it is brought to him,
it discharges, seemingly by accident, wounding Chan in the leg.
In Los Angeles harbor, Chan notices that "Streamline"
Jones' monkey, Lollipop, who had earlier, aboard ship, caused Avalanche to violently bolt, now causes Fenton's horse, Gallant
Lad, to act similarly, while Avalanche seems to be unaffected by the monkey's presence. Chan now realizes that the purpose
of the fire aboard the ship was to provide a cover while the two horses were switched. "Fenton's" horse could then win
the upcoming race at very high odds. The switch, involving the use of black dye to cover a white marking on Gallant
Lad's nose, was engineered by Avalanche's trainer, Bagley, working with a gang of gamblers.
On the day of the race, Chan and Lee are kidnapped by members of the gambling gang. They manage to escape, and,
hurrying to the race track, Chan has his son create a diversion while the detective sneaks into the stables and switches the
horses. Bagley, noticing the switch, quickly places a call to the gamblers, and is arrested as he does so. "You
lose before race start," proclaims Chan.
As the race begins, Al Meers, a track employee who is in league with the
gamblers, switches a timing device at the three-quarter mark, with one that is fitted with a dart, set to fire at the lead
horse. As Avalanche, who is in the lead, passes the device, the horse is hit by the dart, but Avalanche wins the race
anyway, collapsing at the finish line. As a crowd surrounds Avalanche, someone removes the dart. Chan, announcing
that Avalanche is all right, gathers Denny, Bagley, Meers, Chester, and Fenton in the racing association office. When
the dart is found in Fenton's pocket, Fenton accuses Denny of putting it there, but Chester accuses Fenton of wanting to buy
Avalanche all along and murdering Major Kent with the winch shoe because Kent would have noticed that the horses had been
Chan then points out that no one other than himself, his chief, the ship's captain, and...the murderer...knew
about the winch shoe. He continues, stating that he had suspected Chester all along because Chester, who admittedly
had suffered gambling losses, did not use his glasses to read the first threatening note. However, he needed his glasses
to read the second note, which Lee had typed, because Chester had, himself, typed the first one, and knew what it said. He
had sent the threatening note to himself to throw off suspicion. Chan then reveals the fresh bloodstain from the dart
in the lining of Chester's pocket.
After Chester has been taken away by the authorities, Fenton confesses that he
had known about the switch of the horses all along and tells the racing secretary that he will remove his stable from the
Bruce Rogers states that he has won enough money from the race to furnish a flat for himself and Alice, prompting
Charlie Chan to state, "Good wife best household furniture." Suddenly, Lee rushes in, stating that he has found an important
clue, to which Chan replies, "Save for next case, please."
NOTES: The Roxy Theatre in New York billed
this film as At The Race Track with Charlie Chan. Variety reviewed the movie as Chan at the Race
Track. According to Motion Picture Herald and Liberty, some scenes in the film were shot at Santa
Anita Racetrack in Arcadia, California, and the film contained footage of "some of the most spectacular events of the recent
racing season." Motion Picture Herald also notes that the film "has a semi-topical significance in as much
as a great antipodean horse, Pharlap, brought to this country a few years ago [from Australia], died under circumstances that
have never been fully explained." Liberty notes that Technical Director Monroe Liebergold had been a jockey
for the well-known horse breeder H. P. Whitney. Although Hollywood Reporter production charts list Neil Fitzgerald
and John Mooney as additional actors, and only Neil Fitzgerald's participation in the final film has been confirmed.
are, by their nature, not loners. It has long been a common practice for thoroughbred
racehorses to be paired with a horse known as a companion pony which provides both a source of friendship and support. However, as we see in the case in Charlie Chan at the Race Track of Streamline’s
pet monkey, Lollipop, these companion animals are not limited to horses. Other
animals, such as dogs, goats, sheep, and, yes, monkeys, have been known to provide companionship to racehorses. In her article What is a Companion Pony? Jill Pellettieri notes that the famous horse Seabiscuit
had a number of different companion animals and a horse named Pumpkin enjoyed the company of a dog named Pocatell and a spider
monkey named Jo-Jo.
Adapted from: AMERICAN FILM INSTITUTE CATALOG - Within Our Gates: Ethnicity in American
Feature Films, 1911-1960
CHARLIE CHAN'S APHORISMS:
Murder without bloodstains like Amos without Andy - most unusual.
Smart fly keep out
When player cannot see man who deal cards, much wiser to stay out of game.
Suspicion often father
Easy to criticize, more difficult to be correct.
Sea voyage good for health.
like last year's bird's nest.
Confucius say, "No man is poor who have worthy son."
Hasty conclusion like toy
balloon - easy blow up, easy pop.
Surprise attack often find enemy unprepared.
Long road sometime shortest
way to end of journey.
Foolish to seek fortune when real treasure hiding under nose.
Rabbit run very fast,
but sometime turtle win race.
Ocean have many fish.
Foolish rooster who stick head in lawn mower end in stew.
Innocent grass may conceal snake.
Man who flirt with dynamite sometime fly with angels.
Roots of tree
lead in many directions.
Man with gun like lightning - never strike twice in same place.
Useless talk like
boat without oar - get no place.
Cold-blooded murder no joke.
Truth sometimes like stab of cruel knife.
wife best household furniture.
OTHER WORTHY STATEMENTS:
tail now bob tail. (To Lee after losing money bet on a horse race)
spanking when young make rear view very familiar. (To Lee, after having slapped him on the behind)
Happy bullet in leg rather than heart. (To George Chester after being shot)
(Lee: "Got your gun, Pop?") Make excellent bedfellow.
(Denny Barton: "I hear you ran into a bullet.") Contradiction, please, bullet ran into me.
Perfection of mechanical brain make Charlie Chan very humble. (To Al Meers, regarding
photo-electric timing and photographic devices)
"Hay do not grow in hotel." (To Lee upon finding a tell-tale
piece of hay on Lee's shoulder, indication he had been out investigating)
Officer: "You couldn't get in there if you were first cousin to the favorite [horse].") Do not claim relationship
with noble animal.
(Captain Wade: "This will force the head of the gambling ring into the
open. We'll hit him in his most vital spot.") Like bumblebee in pants.
You lose before race start.
(To gambling gang member, Bagley)
(Lee: "Hey, Pop, I've
got another hot clue.") Save for next case, please.
Variety, August 19, 1936
This most recent addition to the Chan sleuth pictures is the happiest of the last several.
Warner Oland, at his best, has a fairly credible story, slick direction, even support and fast tempo. It will please
the Chan fans and should satisfy others who go for crime-detective bafflers.
While it follows the general Charlie
Chan formula, there is crooked horse racing, a strange murder aboard ship, switching of the fave mount, a camera-photographing
machine that shoots a strange dart, and the accepted gang maneuverings to add variety. Operations of the Oriental are
brightened much of the time through the by-play of word and action with his son, who is an enthusiastic amateur Sherlock.
Suspecting an attempt by a gambling ring to harm his race horse, the owner seeks Chan's aid. Before the ship carrying
him from Australia to America reaches Honolulu, the horseman is slain. Chan is detailed to investigate by the native
police and carries on while the ship sails to the U.S. Here he lays the groundwork for much of the startling developments
that arise after the steamer arrives in California.
In Los Angeles, the detective fights off the track gangsters.
After he has escaped from mob headquarters, where temporarily held prisoner, Chan races to the track to change the horses,
switched and disguised by the gangsters, and seems about to record another triumph. Neat anti-climax is introduced in
having the winner shot down by means of a mechanical gun that tosses a dart, but not until the horse has crossed the finish
Scripters have done a smooth job of adapting the story. Director H. Bruce Humberstone,
though confronted with innumerable factual details, has moved from one phase of the plot to another and kept things happening.
Writers and megger never allowed the interest to drag. There are the customary 'Thank you so much' replies and other
typical Chan sayings, but they are dwarfed by the action. Dialog is crisp.
Aside from Oland's skilled portrayal,
Keye Luke, as his son, is tops in an excellent supporting cast. Alan Dinehart furnishes his customary suave role. Helen
Wood and Gloria Roy are pleasing enough in the slight romantic episodes.
PROBABLE DATE OF CHARLIE CHAN'S INVOLVEMENT: Mid- to
late September 1936
DURATION: About two weeks
LOCATIONS (INVOLVING CHARLIE CHAN): Honolulu, Territory of Hawaii
and Los Angeles, California
THE THREE DIFFERENT TYPES OF BLOOD SPATTERS AS DEMONSTRATED TO DETECTIVES OF THE HONOLULU POLICE DEPARTMENT BY CHARLIE CHAN:
1. "Drop of blood falling in straight line from
short distance make round spot, so."
2. "Falling from greater distance exhibit sunburst effect."
3. "Drop of blood thrown forward as from knife held in hand, make entirely
different mark." (later, Charlie Chan comments that these spatters appear to be in a "shape like exclamation
THE AMOUNT OF TIME, ACCORDING TO LEE CHAN, THAT HE HAD
LEFT TO PLACE BETS WITH THE LOCAL BOOKIES BEFORE THE START OF THE RACE: "...three minutes..."
THE BET AMOUNTS MADE BY THREE OTHER DETECTIVES: $10, $5, $1
THE NAME OF THE DETECTIVE WHO LOANED $1 FOR A BET: Mack
CHARLIE CHAN'S "OLD FRIEND": Major Kent (Charlie
Chan: "Will become reckless gambler for sake of old friend.")
CHARLIE CHAN'S BET ON THE MELBOURNE SWEEPSTAKES: 50 cents
(Charlie Chan: "Will bet tail of shirt, 50 cents, on Schnozolola [Avalanche].")
THE FOUR HORSES ANNOUNCED AT THE MELBOURNE SWEEPSTAKES RACE:
THE AMOUNT OF MONEY WAGERED BY CATHERINE CHESTER WITH DENNY
THE AMOUNT OF THE RAISED BET BY GEORGE CHESTER WITH DENNY BARTON:
THE NAME OF THE HORSE THAT WAS FOULED BY AVALANCHE: Stardust
AVALANCHE'S "TENDENCY" ACCORDING TO BAGLEY: "...a slight
pull to the left..."
"TIP" COLLINS' PENALTY FOR HIS FLAGRANT FOUL: Two years suspension
"TIP" COLLINS' PAYOFF FROM THE GAMBLING RING: $2,000
THE AMOUNT THAT "TIP" COLLINS HAD EXPECTED: $5,000
THE TEXT OF THE S.S. OCEANIC CAPTAIN'S LOG ENTRY:
THE HONOLULU STANDARD FRONT PAGE AND HEADLINE:
THE LENGTH OF TIME, ACCORDING TO THE SHIP'S STEWARD, THAT "TIP" COLLINS HAD BEEN
"COOPED UP" IN HIS CABIN: "...ten days..."
THE LENGTH OF TIME BEFORE MAJOR KENT'S DEATH THAT DENNY BARTON HAD
SEEN HIM: Ten minutes
ACCORDING TO WARREN FENTON, THE NAME OF THE PHSYCIAN WHO RULED MAJOR
KENT'S DEATH AN ACCIDENT: "Johnson..."
ACCORDING TO CHARLIE CHAN, THE LENGTH OF TIME THAT
MAJOR KENT HAD OWNED AVALANCHE: "Avalanche know Major four years."
THE NAME OF "STREAMLINE" JONES' PET MONKEY: Lollipop
SEEN IN THE HOLD OF THE S.S. OCEANIC: Gallant Lad, Wild Billy, Dean Gay
ACCORDING TO CHARLIE CHAN, THE SHAPE OF THE BLOOD SPATTERS
IN AVALANCHE'S STALL: "Shaped like exclamation marks lying down; pointed ends toward rear of stall."
CHARLIE CHAN'S THEORY AS TO THE MURDER WEAPON USED TO KILL MAJOR
KENT: Winch clutch control
THE DEPARTURE TIME OF THE S.S. OCEANIC FROM HONOLULU TO
LOS ANGELES: 6:00 (p.m.) (Charlie Chan: "Boat sail at six.")
CHARLIE CHAN'S CABIN ABOARD THE S.S. OCEANIC:
THE TEXT OF THE NOTE RECEIVED AND READ BY GEORGE CHESTER:
"Don't enter Avalanche
in the Santa Juanita
Handicap - A Dead Horse
can't win a race --"
THE R.M.S. EMPRESS OF JAPAN, THE ACTUAL SHIP SHOWN
IN THE DEPARTURE SCENE, AS WELL AS EARLIER, WHILE AT SEA (PLUS A VINTAGE POSTCARD PICTURING THE SHIP):
THE NOTE RECEIVED BY GEORGE CHESTER AND THE SHEET OF PAPER CONTAINING
THE SAME WATER MARK AS COMPARED BY CHARLIE CHAN AND SON, LEE:
THE FULL NOTE SHOWING THE DISTINCTIVE FILLED-IN LETTER "E":
THE DELIVERY TIME, ACCORDING TO GEORGE CHESTER,
THAT WAS STAMPED ON THE BACK OF THE ENVELOPE CONTAINING THE ABOVE MESSAGE: "Four minutes past six."
ACCORDING TO GEORGE CHESTER, THE CURRENT TIME
BASED ON THE TIME STAMPED ON THE ENVELOPE: "That's only ten minutes ago." (about 6:14 p.m.)
WARREN FENTON'S OFFER TO GEORGE CHESTER FOR AVALANCHE: "I'll give
you $20,000 for him."
LEE CHAN'S AUNT (CHARLIE CHAN'S SISTER-IN-LAW?): Aunt Ling
who lives "at the other end of the island (of Oahu)."
LEE CHANS DESCRIPTION OF THE TRAITS PECULIAR TO THE TYPEWRITER USED TO TYPE THE NOTE RECEIVED
BY GEORGE CHESTER: "The E's are closed up, and the R's a little above the line."
THE CABIN NUMBER OF THE PERSON WISHING TO SEE BRUCE ROGERS:
219 (Steward: "The gentleman in 219...")
THE "LOVE POEM" TYPED BY LEE TO TEST WARREN FENTON'S TYPEWRITER:
THE TEXT OF THE NOTE TYPED BY LEE AND
SLIPPED INTO WARREN FENTON'S POCKET AS READ BY FENTON: "A dead horse isn't worth $20,000."
CHARLIE CHAN'S BEVERAGE OF CHOICE: Sarsaparilla
TEXT OF THE NOTE TYPED BY LEE AND DROPPED NEAR BRUCE ROGERS: "It's dangerous to know too much about other people's
THE TEXT OF THE NOTE TYPED BY LEE AND DELIVERED BY A WAITER TO DENNY BARTON:
"A smart gambler knows a dead horse can't win."
THE TEXT OF THE NOTE TYPED BY LEE AND DROPPED
ON THE STAIRS IN FRONT OF WARREN CHESTER: "Withdraw Avalanche from the Santa Juanita Handicap - This is your last warning."
THE TEXT OF LEE'S NOTE WRITTEN TO HIS POP IN CHINESE, AND AS TRANSLATED INTO ENGLISH FROM
THE NAME OF THE EXTRA GUARD PLACED IN THE FORWARD HOLD OF THE OCEANIC
TO GUARD THE HORSES: Smithers
ACCORDING TO DENNY BARTON, THE LENGTH OF TIME HE WAS IN HIS ROOM
UNTIL THE FIRE ALARM SOUNDED: "About ten minutes, maybe fifteen..."
"STREAMLINE" JONES' DRINK OF CHOICE: Gin ("...for the misery
in my feet.")
ACCORDING TO CHARLIE CHAN, THE LENGTH OF TIME TAKEN FOR THE CIGARETTE/MATCHBOOK
"FUSE" TO BURN AS SHOWN BY HIS TEST: "...12 minutes..."
THE NAME OF THE HORSE SHOWN BEING LIFTED IN ITS STALL TO THE DOCK
AT LOS ANGELES (SAN PEDRO): Pancho
THE AMOUNT OF MONEY GIVEN TO
"TIP" COLLINS BY BAGLEY TO "TIDE HIM OVER": $200
THE NAME OF "BLACKTON" OFFICER WHO IS EVIDENTLY IN CHARGE OF
SECURITY AT THE SANTA JUANITA RACE TRACK: Captain Wade
AVALANCHE'S TIME AT THE AT THE FIRST QUARTER OF HIS PRACTICE RUN,
ACCORDING TO DENNY BARTON: "23 flat..."
THE TIME OF THE PRACTICE RUN BY AVALANCHE (AS GALLANT LAD):
THE NAME OF THE GAMBLING RING MEMBER
WHO WAS LISTENING TO CHARLIE CHAN'S TAPPED TELEPHONE LINE: Joe
THE NAME OF THE OTHER GAMBLING RING MEMBER WHO HELPED AL MEERS
WITH THE DEMONSTRATION OF THE DART GUN: Lefty
THE SECRETARY OF THE SANTA JUANITA RACING ASSOCIATION: J.L.
THE TEXT OF THE LAST NOTE TO CHESTER (RECEIVED JUST BEFORE THE BIG
RACE), AS READ BY CHESTER: "This is your last chance - Withdraw Avalanche before it's too late."
THE SIZE OF THE CROWD ON HAND AT SANTA JUANITA RACE TRACK:
THE RACE ODDS ON GALLANT LAD FROM PHILADELPHIA: 18-1
THE AMOUNT OF THE BET PLACED ON THE PHILADELPHIA ODDS BY THE GAMBLING RING: $2,000
THE RACE ODDS ON GALLANT LAD FROM SAN FRANCISCO: 20-1
THE AMOUNT OF THE BET PLACED ON THE SAN FRANCISCO ODDS BY THE GAMBLING
THE AMOUNT OF MONEY "HANDLED" BY CINCINNATI: $5,000
THE NAME OF THE JOCKEY ASKED BY WARREN FENTON TO RIDE AVALANCHE:
Gilroy (refused the suggestion)
THE AMOUNT OF MONEY PROMISED TO EDDIE BRILL BY GEORGE CHESTER IF
HE RODE AVALANCHE TO VICTORY: $10,000
THE LAST TIME THAT EDDIE BRILL HAD WON THE SANTA JUANITA HANDICAP:
Two years ago (1934)
THE TEXT OF THE ODDS BOARD LISTING (SANTA JUANITA - 6TH RACE):
THE PARTIALLY VISIBLE NAME OF THE LAUNDRY PAINTED ON THE SIDE OF THE LAUNDRY TRUCK DRIVEN
BY LEE CHAN:
THE LICENSE PLATE NUMBER OF THE LAUNDRY TRUCK DRIVEN BY LEE CHAN:
THE LOCATION OF THE TIMING HEAD THAT WAS REPLACED BY A DART GUN:
THE NAME OF THE GAMBLING RING MEMBER WHO WAS ASKED TO CHECK ON CHARLIE
THE HORSES AND JOCKEYS FOR THE 6TH RACE AT SANTA JUANITA AS ANNOUNCED:
ACCORDING TO A DETECTIVE, THE LOCATION OF WHERE AND WHEN "TIP"
COLLINS' BODY WAS FOUND: "...the ocean at Santa Monica this morning."
THE PERSON WHO HAD SWITCHED GALLANT LAD FOR AVALANCHE: Bagley
- (Hawaiian) An acknowledgment that can be used to say hello or goodbye. Other
meanings include love, compassion, and a profound spirit of welcome.
Honolulu Police Chief Inspector: "Aloha
- and good luck."
(Amos 'n' Andy) - A situation comedy popular in the United States from the 1920s through the 1950s. The show began as one of the first radio comedy
serials, written and voiced by Freeman Gosden and Charles
Correll and originating from station WMAQ in Chicago, Illinois. First broadcast in March 1928, the series
had such an immense popularity that at its peak it was heard six times a week by an audience of 40,000,000 listeners, one-third
of the total U.S. population.
Charlie Chan: "Murder without bloodstains
like Amos without Andy - most unusual."
a screw loose
- (Idiom) Crazy; something wrong.
Lee Chan: "There's a
screw loose somewhere."
(Slang) Person, especially those who are odd or remarkable.
Lee Chan: "We've got to do something to
stop those birds."
- A jail or prison on board a U.S. Navy or Coast Guard vessel.
Steward: "...as soon as I get my hands on him, into the brig he goes!"
- (Slang) Questionable collaboration; secret partnership.
Lee Chan: "It's Chester and Fenton in
- (Pidgin English) Right away; quickly.
Lee Chan [posing as a Chinese cabin boy]:
"Scat - chop-chop!"
- A sure thing; a certainty.
Lee Chan: "Why, it's
- (Slang) A detective.
Gangster: "But, that
Chinese dick is wise to the whole thing."
- (Slang) Information.
Lee Chan: "I've got
the inside dope."
- (Slang) Money.
Detective: "What the kid means is to plank
your dough on the nag's schnozzola."
- (Slang) A thousand dollars.
"Tip" Collins: "I thought my cut was going
to be five grand."
- (Slang) Money, profit, or benefit easily or illicitly gained.
Lee Chan: "Want to get in the gravy,
- The capital and largest city of Hawaii, on the southeast coast of Oahu. Honolulu's harbor was first entered by Europeans
in 1794. Settlement of the area began in 1816, and the city soon gained prominence as a whaling and sandalwood port. Honolulu
has been a major tourist center since the early twentieth century. Population - 1930: 202,807; 1940: 257,696.
Honolulu was the home of Charlie Chan and his
multitudinous family who lived on the slope of Punchbowl Hill. This city is at least the starting point for a number
of adventures, and, in two films, including Charlie Chan's Greatest Case and The Black Camel (filmed
on location), serves as the backdrop for the entire film. Other titles where at least some of the plot, if only implied, takes
place in Honolulu include Charlie Chan Carries On, Charlie Chan's Secret, Charlie Chan at the Race
Track, Charlie Chan in Honolulu, Charlie Chan in Reno, and Charlie Chan's Murder Cruise.
hunky-dory - (Slang) Perfectly satisfactory; fine.
Charlie Chan: "Happy to report Avalanche
and jockey, as son Lee would say, 'hunky-dory.'"
- (Slang) Keep oneself or one's plans hidden; bide one's time to
Bagley: "Now, get out of here and lay
- Having a round face.
Steward: "Good luck to that moon-faced
- (Slang) A racehorse.
Detective: "What the kid means is to plank
your dough on the nag's schnozola."
Oceanic - A supposed ship in the Matson Line of Pacific steamers, the S.S. Oceanic
was seen in Charlie Chan at the Race Track. The name of this vessel could be
a reference to the Oceanic Steamship Company, which was bought out in 1926 by Matson.
Honolulu Police Chief
Inspector: "The Oceanic will be docking in a few minutes."
on the level -
(Slang) Without deception; honest.
Lee Chan: "Pop, this is on the
A clumsy, easily defeated athelete, usually a prize-fighter.
Charlie Chan at the Race Track-
Lewis: "What's the idea puttin' an unknown palooka in Avalanche's place?"
To put or set down emphatically or with force.
Detective: "What the kid means is to plank
your dough on the nag's schnozola."
- (Slang) A business or occupation.
Gangster: "Stuck your snoot in the wrong
racket this time, didn't you?"
schnozola - (Slang)
Detective: What the kid means is to plank your dough on the nag's schnozola..."
smackers - (Slang)
Detective: I'll take a chance - ten smackers."
snoot - (Slang)
Gangster: "Stuck your snoot in the wrong racket this time, didn't you?"
two bits - (Slang)
Detective: "Hey, Mack, loan me two bits
and I'll owe you a dollar."
A vintage postcard showing Santa Anita
Santa Anita Park, located at 285 West Huntington Drive
in the Los Angeles suburb of Arcadia, opened in 1934. It served as the backdrop for much of the action in Charlie
Chan at the Race Track, although it was called "Santa Juanita" in the film. The inaugural running of the Santa
Anita Handicap took place in 1935, becoming the nation's first $100,000 race, a staggering purse at that time for a horse
race, which put Santa Anita on the horseracing map. Other Hollywood movies have been shot at Santa Anita over the
years, including the Marx Brothers' A day at the Races in 1937.