The House on Punchbowl Hill





















Charlie Chan at Monte Carlo

Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corporation
Distributed: Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corporation, January 21, 1938
Production: September 20 to mid-October 1937
Copyright: Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corporation, January 21, 1938; LP 8366
Opened: Roxy, New York, N.Y., the week of December 17, 1937
Sound: Western Electric Mirrophonic recording
Film: Black and white
Length: 8 reels, 6,465 feet
Running Time: 71 minutes
Production Code Administration Certificate Number: 3797
Source: Based on the character "Charlie Chan" created by Earl Derr Biggers.
 

Director: Eugene Forde
Associate Producer: John Stone
Assistant Director: Saul Wurtzel
Screenplay: Charles Belden and Jerry Cady
Original Story: Robert Ellis and Helen Logan
Photography: Daniel B. Clark
Art Direction: Bernard Herzbrun
Art Direction Associate: Haldane Douglas
Film Editor: Nick DeMaggio
Costumes: Herschel
Musical Direction: Samuel Kaylin
Sound: Bernard Freericks and Harry M. Leonard


CAST:

Warner Oland: Charlie Chan
Keye Luke: Lee Chan
Virginia Field: Evelyn Grey
Sidney Blackmer: Victor Karnoff
Harold Huber: [Inspector] Jules [Etienne] Joubert
Kay Linaker: Joan Karnoff
Robert Kent: Gordon Chase
Edward Raquello: Paul Savarin
George Lynn: Al Rogers (also called Albert Rogers) 
Louis Mercier: Taxi Driver
George Davis: Pepite (First Gendarme)
John Bleifer: Ludwig [Krauss] 
Georges Renavent: Renault
Constant Franke: Croupier (not credited)
André Cheron: Croupier (not credited)
Joseph Romantini: Attaché (not credited)
Albert Pollet: Attaché (not credited)
Victor Delinsky, Alphonse Martell, Louis Lubitch, Robert Graves,
George Sorel: Gendarme (not credited)
Jean Perry: Gendarme (not credited)
Jean De Briac: Doorman (not credited)
Manuel Paris: Doorman (not credited)
Eugene Borden: Hotel Clerk (not credited)
Gennaro Curci: Waiter (not credited)
Antonio Filauri: Waiter (not credited)
John Picorri: Waiter (not credited)
Sherry Hall: Bartender (not credited)
Marcelle Corday: Concierge (not credited)
Leo White: French Butler (not credited)
Emile Bistagne (not credited)
Art Dupuis (not credited)  



SUMMARY:

Charlie Chan and number one son Lee are passing through Monte Carlo on their way to Paris for an art show in which Lee has a painting.  While there, they meet Inspector Jules Joubert, chief of police of Monte Carlo.  That evening, as father and son leave to catch the train from Nice, their taxi breaks down.  Chan and Lee continue on foot until they see an expensive roadster speed past them, leaving another car in which the two find a dead man.  Two gendarmes arriving at the scene misunderstand Lee's poor French, and understand him to say that they were responsible for the man's murder.

Back in Monte Carlo, after Chan and Lee are released by authorities, an investigation reveals that the dead man was Renault, a bank messenger who was on his way to Paris with $1,000,000 in metallurgic bonds, now missing, which belonged to Victor Karnoff.  It is also discovered that three metallurgic bonds were offered for sale that same day at a Monte Carlo bank by Al Rogers, a bartender at the Hotel Imperiale.

Later, Chan and Lee recognize the expensive roadster in front of the hotel and learns that it belongs to Evelyn Grey, who is a resident there.  Inspector Joubert and Chan find her in the company of Paul Savarin, a stockbroker and Karnoff's bitter rival.  Although she admits stopping by the car, Evelyn says that she had fled in fright when she had seen Chan and Lee approach, figuring them to be the murderers.  Joubert learns that Karnoff's chauffeur Ludwig, who had driven Renault, was in league with Savarin.  Originally suspecting that Ludwig had committed the crime, Joubert soon learns that the driver's body has been found in a swamp near the car.

The next day, Karnoff's wife Joan, who had, the night before, begged Rogers to give her back the three bonds that she had previously given to him, admits to him that she had stolen them from his room.  Rogers then gives her until noon to repay him their value of $25,000.

At breakfast that morning, Evelyn promises Gordon Chase, Karnoff's secretary who is in love with her, that she will not see Savarin again and that Savarin means nothing to her.  After Chan learns that Evelyn has been living in luxury with no visible means of support, and that Joan Karnoff had pawned jewelry that morning for $25,000, the value of the three missing bonds, he and Joubert go to interrogate Rogers.  However, upon arriving at his room, they find him dead with an open valise full of Karnoff's stolen bonds.  Joubert concludes that Rogers had committed suicide, and that the case is closed, but Chan suggests that the evidence shows otherwise.

Chan and Joubert go to see Karnoff at his house where they also find Joan, Savarin, Gordon, and Evelyn.  Joan confesses that Rogers, whom she had married seven years earlier, and whom she had thought had obtained a divorce, was blackmailing her.  As a result, she had given him the three bonds, but had stolen them back when she had learned of Karnoff's million-dollar deal from her brother, Gordon, who secretly replaced them for her.

CONCLUSION:

Chan has Lee bring in the valise containing the bonds only to find that it is locked.  Asking Karnoff for the key, Gordon supplies it and opens the lock.  Chan then announces that Gordon Chase is the murderer, as the valise had been found open with no damage to its lock in Rogers' room, and the only keys to it were in the possession of the messenger, Renault, and Karnoff's secretary, Gordon.  Other facts seal the case against Gordon who confesses to the crimes, berating Evelyn Grey for whom he had stolen from Karnoff so that she could live a rich lifestyle.  When Gordon had felt he was in danger of being exposed, he had killed Rogers, attempting to make it look as if he had commited the crimes.

Gordon, swearing revenge against Evelyn, flees through an open window, but is run over and instantly killed by a speeding car.  Joubert "suggests" that Evelyn and Savarin leave Monte Carlo.

With the case successfully concluded, Inspecter Joubert gives Charlie Chan and Lee another send-off as they haltingly depart in the same backfiring taxi that had broken down earlier.

NOTE: Charlie Chan at Monte Carlo was Warner Oland's last film.  Oland began Charlie Chan at the Ringside in January of 1938, but the production was halted when the actor walked off the set on the 17th of that month.  According to news items, there was a dispute between Oland and the studio.

Adapted from: AMERICAN FILM INSTITUTE CATALOG - Within Our Gates: Ethnicity in American Feature Films, 1911-1960



CHARLIE CHAN'S APHORISMS:

Humble presence of no more importance than one drop of rain in cloudburst.
 
Illustrious ancestor once say, "Destination never reached by turning back on same."

Action speak louder than French.

Tongue often hang man quicker than rope.

One picture still worth ten thousand words.

Questions are keys to door of truth.

Truth cannot be insult.

Car with new sparkplug like flea on puppy dog - make both most active.


OTHER WORTHY STATEMENTS:

Contradiction of old saying that "talk is cheap."  (To Jules Joubert regarding Paul Savarin and Victor Karnoff who compete at high stakes gambling to "make a statement")
 
(Lee: "Gosh, Pop, I haven't a cent in my pocket.")  Rejoice that you still have honorable pants.

(Lee: "I like detective work better than painting.")  If paintings as full of imagination as detective work, he will be Chinese Rembrandt.

French very difficult language.  (To Lee as he signals in vain to a passing car while hitch hiking)
 
(Lee: "There's another car down there, Pop!  Must have been an accident.")  Perhaps like our own taxi - on sit-down strike.

Fortunately, assassination of French language not serious crime.  (To Lee) 
 
So sorry, but find Monte Carlo hospitality difficult to escape.  (To Jules Joubert who is surprised to see Charlie Chan and son Lee in a jail cell)

Present case, like too many cocktails, make very bad headache. Perhaps bartender provide remedy for same.  (To Jules Joubert regarding bartender Al Rogers)

Perhaps bright sunshine bring forth solution.  (To Jules Joubert)

Very doubtful petty larceny mouse attack millionaire lion.  (To Jules Joubert regarding Al Rogers)

Perhaps we now catch lion in mousetrap...or lioness.  (To Jules Joubert)

Unfortunately, Mr. Rogers already depart on long journey.  (To Lee regarding Al Rogers' murder)

Will be facing greatest mystery if award given to offspring's painting.  (To Jules Joubert regarding Lee's painting in a Paris exhibition)



REVIEW:

Variety, December 22, 1937

Perhaps Hollywood's nearest approach to achieving perpetual motion is the regularity with which 'Charlie Chan' cop-chase-crook mellers are milled out.

Finding the Chinese detective 'at Monte Carlo' also finds Warner Oland in his 16th feature as Chan in the last six years.  Pic, obviously aimed at the duals, should be o.k. on popularity already built up and streamlined.  But it's a bit under average for Chan celluloiders.

Culprit who commits the murders is very well concealed; in fact, too well.  Not enough clues are strewn about for the audience to have any chance of nailing the one in advance through deduction.  That's rather unfair and weakens the effect of the pic as a whole.

Plot finds 'Chan' passing through Monaco for a gander at the gambling casino.  He is detained at departure when his taxi breaks down and he discovers a murder and a theft of $1,000,000 worth of bonds.  The usual several adjunctive murders follow.

Suspects include almost all the cast characters, but motives for the crimes are too vaguely established and the progression of plot moves too haltingly.

'Chan' seems to be running out of bon mots derived from 'Old Chinese proverbs' to sum up situations.  His 25-year-old son (Keye Luke) supplies rather lightweight humor by his bumbling when trying to independently track down the villain.  Harold Huber is swell source of humor as a gesticulating, apologetic chief of Monaco's police. It's an abrupt departure from the heavy characterizations which Huber has always done in the past, and reveals him as an actor with more facets than suspected.

There's no real romantic side to the yarn, which proves something of an oversight, in view of the general plot weaknesses.  Also poor judgment was having so much dialog couched in French, whole scenes thus being negated for Yankee audiences.

Rest of the cast about o.k., with Sidney Blackmer and Edward Raquello in good form as smoothies.  In a bit, Louis Mercier scores as a muttering, clog-craniumed hack driver.

Direction might have speeded the yarn more; camera didn't set the film off too well.

 
 

FILM NOTES:

DATE: August 25-26, 1937 (Wednesday and Thursday)
 
DURATION: Two days
 
LOCATION: Monte Carlo, Principality of Monaco
 
THE TYPE OF CAR SHOWN ARRIVING AT THE CASINO DE MONTE CARLO: Hispano Sutra town car
 
THE NAME OF THE COUPLE REGISTERING AT THE CASINO DE MONTE CARLO AHEAD OF CHARLIE CHAN AND SON LEE: M. and Mme. de Chaigny
 
THE CARD ISSUED TO M. AND MME. DE CHAVIGNY:

LEE CHAN'S FOUR REASONS FOR CONSIDERING THE NUMBER 25 TO BE LUCKY FOR HIM - PLUS ONE MORE:
 
The Chans' hotel room in Nice is number 125.
Lee is 25 years old.
The date is August 25.
It is the Chinese year 9325. 
 
Charlie Chan: "25 is also amount you borrow from me last week."
 
THE ACTUAL CHINESE YEAR IN 1937: 4635
 
THE GAME PLAYED BY VICTOR KARNOFF AND PAUL SAVARIN: Chemin de Fer (Baccarat)
 
THE AMOUNT OF PAUL SAVARIN'S BET: 50,000 Francs
 
THE AMOUNT ASKED FOR AND GIVEN TO EVELYN GREY BY VICTOR KARNOFF TO USE AS A BET: 1,000 Francs
 
THE FIRST WINNING NUMBER CALLED OUT ON THE ROULETTE WHEEL: "Vinct-quatre, noir." (24, black)
 
LEE'S FIRST ROULETTE BET: 20 francs on 25, red
 
THE SECOND WINNING NUMBER CALLED OUT ON THE ROULETTE WHEEL: "Dix-sept, noir" (17, black)
 
LEE'S SECOND ROULETTE BET: 20 Francs on 25, red
 
THE THIRD WINNING NUMBER CALLED OUT ON THE ROULETTE WHEEL: "Douze, rouge." (12, red)
 
THE VALUE OF THE MISSING METALLURGIC BONDS, ACCORDING TO GORDON CHASE: $25,000
 
THE VALUE OF THE METALLURGIC BONDS THAT VICTOR KARNOFF HAD PLANED TO SELL OFF TO "WRECK SAVARIN": $1 million
 
THE AMOUNT OF TIME THAT JOAN KARNOFF HAD TO GET THE MISSING METALLURGIC BONDS TO HER BROTHER GORDON CHASE: "About an hour."
 
THE NUMBER OF STRAIGHT HANDS WON BY VICTOR KARNOFF AGAINST PAUL SAVARIN AT CHEMIN DE FER: Five
 
ACCORDING TO LEE CHAN, THE REASON THAT HE AND HIS POP WERE ON THEIR WAY TO PARIS: "I'm exhibiting a painting at the Paris Exhibition, and we've got to be there for the showing."
 
THE HOTEL WHERE AL ROGERS WORKED AT THE BAR: Hotel Imperial
 
THE DRINK ORDERED BY JOAN KARNOFF AT THE BAR AT THE HOTEL IMPERIAL: Benedictine
 
THE DRINK ORDERED BY THE COUPLE AT THE BAR: "Cocktail de Bronx"
 
THE HOTEL WHERE EVELYN GREY HAD A SUITE: Hotel Imperial
 
THE BOND SERIAL NUMBERS AS READ BY RENAULT TO VICTOR KARNOFF:
 
"Series G - 18407 to 17."
"J - 2264 to 74."
"K - 2755 to..." (missing bonds)
"R - 9183 to 93."
 
VICTOR KARNOFF'S TELEPHONE CONTACT IN PARIS FOR THE BOND SALE: Ramboullet
 
THE TYPE OF CAR SEEN BY CHARLIE CHAN AND SON LEE LEAVING THE MURDER SCENE ON THE ROAD TO NICE: White Dussenberg roadster convertible
 
THE LICENSE NUMBER OF THE MONTE CARLO POLICE CAR THAT WAS FLAGGED DOWN BY LEE CHAN ON THE ROAD TO NICE, FRANCE: 3475 921  
 
AT THE TIME CHARLIE CHAN AND SON LEE ARE RELEASED FROM THEIR MONTE CARLO JAIL, THE LENGTH OF TIME SINCE THEIR TRAIN HAD DEPARTED NICE, FRANCE: "...20 minutes ago." (perhaps about 11 p.m.)
 
THE CASES IN JULES JOUBERT'S DESK, MENTIONED BY JOUBERT TO CHARLIE CHAN: "Mlle. Fifi Zaza report the loss of puppy dog...A doctor has the watch stolen...A bartender attempts the sale of some bonds and the bank lift the eyebrows."
 
THE NUMBERS OF THE MISSING METALLURGIC BONDS AND THEIR VALUES:
 
M 2756   250,000 Francs
M 2757   250,000 Francs
M 2758   250,000 Francs
 
THE AMOUNT FOR WHICH AL ROGERS HAD ATTEMPTED TO SELL THESE THREE BONDS: $25,000
 
CALCULATING FROM THE ABOVE INFORMATION, THE VALUE OF THE FRANC TO U.S. DOLLARS ON AUGUST 25, 1937: A little over 3 cents (30 francs to the dollar)
 
EVELYN GREY'S SUITE NUMBER: 319
 
THE TIME AS EVELYN GREY LEFT THE CASINO TO TAKE "AN HOUR'S DRIVE" ON THE ROAD TO NICE: 10 p.m.
 
THE TIME OF EVELYN GREY'S SCHEDULED APPOINTMENT WITH GORDON CHASE AT THE CASINO: 11 p.m.
 
THE LOCATION OF THE RESIDENCE OF AL ROGERS: Hotel Regale
 
AL ROGERS' ROOM NUMBER AT THE HOTEL IMPERIAL: 22
 
THE TIME AS PAUL SAVARIN TELEPHONED TO CHARTER AN AIRPLANE TO FLY FROM NICE TO PARIS: 8 p.m.
 
THE TIME AS PAUL SAVARIN CALLED THE AIRPORT AT NICE TO CANCEL HIS CHARTERED PLANE: 9:30 p.m.
 
PARTIAL VIEW OF THE BREAKFAST MENU OF THE HOTEL IMPERIAL:

LEE CHAN'S BREAKFAST ORDER: Strawberries and cream and ham and eggs
 
CHARLIE CHAN'S BREAKFAST ORDER: Waffles
 
CHARLIE CHAN'S DRAWING ON THE REVERSE SIDE OF THE MENU USED TO VISUALLY DESCRIBE TO THE FRENCH-SPEAKING WAITER THE WAFFLES HE WANTED FOR BREAKFAST:

THE TIME OF CHARLIE CHAN'S AND SON LEE'S BREAKFAST AT THE HOTEL IMPERIAL: 9 a.m. (based on Charlie Chan's statement to Lee: "Note: young lady [Evelyn Grey] keep appointment [with Gordon Chase] ten hours late.")
 
WHAT THE WAITER BROUGHT TO CHARLIE CHAN  FOR "BREAKFAST":

THE PRICE OF THE 'CROSSWORD PUZZLES' MAGAZINE: 10 cents
 
THE PLANNED TIME AND PLACE OF EVELYN GREY'S AND GORDON CHASE'S MEETING TO HAVE COCKTAILS: 5 p.m. at the Hotel Imperial
 
PAUL SAVARIN'S ORDERS FOR THE STOCKS HE SOLD OVER THE TELEPHONE: "...Sell them (unknown stocks) in 10,000 share lots.  And offer 5,000 Burma Timber..."
 
EVELYN GREY'S ORDER AT THE HOTEL IMPERIAL BAR: "...something strong."
 
THE POLICE INFORMATION ON EVELYN GREY AS TRANSLATED TO CHARLIE CHAN BY JULES JOUBERT: "Age 24; born in London; unmarried; occupation: mannequin.  Left position in April.  Since then, living expensively in Monte Carlo with invisible income."
 
THE POLICE INFORMATION ON AL ROGERS AS TRANSLATED TO CHARLIE CHAN BY JULES JOUBERT: "Age 35; born in Chicago; arrested twice for petty larceny - no conviction.  Occupation: Vaudeville dancer.  Appeared in French music halls in 1936.  Since employed as bartender in Vichy and Monte Carlo."
 
ACCORDING TO JULES JOUBERT, THE TIME AS JOAN KARNOFF BROUGHT JEWELRY TO A PAWN SHOP IN NICE: "...at eight o'clock this morning."
 
ACCORDING TO JULES JOUBERT, THE AMOUNT THAT JOAN KARNOFF HAD BEEN PAID FOR THE JEWELRY: 750,000 Francs (equal to $25,000) (Jules Joubert: "25,000 dollars!")
 
ACCORDING TO JULES JOUBERT, THE LENGTH OF TIME SINCE THE LAST MURDER IN MONTE CARLO: "...25 years..."
 
THE DATE, ACCORDING TO JOAN KARNOFF, WHEN SHE HAD MARRIED AL ROGERS: "...seven years ago." (1930)
 
THE TIME As SHOWN ON THE CLOCK ON THE WALL AT THE VILLA OF VICTOR KARNOFF: 2:40 (p.m.)
 
ACCORDING TO JULES JOUBERT, THE APPROXIMATE TIME OF AL ROGERS' MURDER: "...between ten and eleven (a.m.)."
 
THE DOLLAR AMOUNT OF THE BONDS MISSING FROM THE RECOVERED BAG: $200,000
 
THE LENGTH OF TIME GIVEN TO EVELYN GREY AND PAUL SAVARIN BY JULES JOUBERT TO LEAVE MONTE CARLO: 24 hours

 
 

GLOSSARY:

all in - (Idiom)  Very tired; exhausted.
Charlie Chan at Monte Carlo - Evely Grey: "I'm all in with that session with the police last night."
 
asbestos - A fireproof fabric woven from asbestos fibers, formerly used for theater curtains, firefighters' gloves, etc.
Charlie Chan at Monte Carlo - Charlie Chan: "Next time must buy asbestos pants." 
 
Benedictine - A sweet cognac-based liqueur, flavored with various aromatics, fruit peels and herbs.
Joan Karnoff: "Benedictine."
 
Bourse - The stock exchange in Paris, France.
Jules Joubert: "They are the enemies on the Bourse as well as in the casino."
 
chemin de fer - (French)  The French version of baccarat, chemin de fer is a casino game in which players bet on either of two hands dealt on the table: the "player" or the "banker."  The hand that comes closer to 9 wins.
Jules Joubert: "Perhaps you would like to play a little roulette or chemin de fer,
 
cherchez la femme - (French)  "Look for the woman."
Jules Joubert: "Cherchez la femme - always at the bottom of trouble is a woman."
 
Cocktail de Bronx (Bronx Cocktail) - 1 oz vermouth, 1 oz gin, juice of 1/4 orange, 1 slice orange.  Shake all ingredients (except orange slice) with ice and strain into a cocktail glass. Add the orange slice and serve.  The Bronx Cocktail was supposedly invented by Johnnie Solon of the Waldorf-Astoria bar in Manhattan.
A "Cocktail de Bronx" was ordered by a couple at the bar in the Hotel Imperial.
 
crime passionelle - (French)  Crime of passion.
Lee Chan: "It's what the French newspapers call a crime passionelle."
 
fan-tan (1) A Chinese betting game in which the players lay wagers on the number of counters that will remain when a hidden pile of them has been divided by four.  (2) A card game in which sevens and their equivalent are played in sequence and the first player out of cards is the winner.
Charlie Chan: "Venerable grandparent once have large holdings in fan-tan house." 
 
garçon(French)  A waiter or attendant. 
Joan Karnoff: "Garçon, my wraps, please."
 
in a jam - (Slang)  In a difficult, threatening, or embarrassing position; also, unable to solve a dilemma.
Charlie Chan at Monte Carlo - Joan Karnoff: "You know I was in a jam."
 
metallurgic - Of or pertaining to metallurgy or metals (in the case of bonds, probably relating to valuable metals such as gold or silver).
Gordon Chase: "$25,000 of the metallurgic bonds are missing."
 
Rembrandt - (Rembrandt van Ryn)  (1606-1669)  A very influential Dutch painter of the 17th century. 
Charlie Chan at Monte Carlo - Charlie Chan: "...he will be Chinese Rembrandt."
 
sit-down strike - A strike in which workers refuse to leave the workplace until a settlement is reached.  This form of protest was very much in the news during the mid-1930s.
Charlie Chan: "Perhaps like own taxi, on sit-down strike."
 
Vichy - A small city in central France southeast of Paris noted for its spa and hot mineral springs.  During the German occupation from 1940-1944 this city was the capital of "free France." 
Jules Joubert: "Since employed as bartender in Vichy and Monte Carlo."
 
For a complete list from all films, please visit our Charlie Chan Glossary. 

 
 

MONACO MAP:

monocomap.jpg

 
 

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