The House on Punchbowl Hill





















Charlie Chan at Treasure Island

Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corporation
Distributed: Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corporation, September 8, 1939
Production: April 17 to May 13, 1939
Copyright: Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corporation, September 8, 1939; LP9300
Sound: RCA High Fidelity Recording
Film: Black and white
Length: 8 reels, 6,633 feet
Running Time: 72 or 74 minutes
Production Code Administration certificate number: 5321
Source: Based on the character "Charlie Chan" created by Earl Derr Biggers
 

Executive Producer: Sol M. Wurtzel (not credited)
Associate Producer: Edward Kaufman
Director: Norman Foster
Assistant Director: Charles Hall (not credited)
Original Story and Screenplay: John Larkin
Photography: Virgil Miller
Art Direction: Richard Day and Lewis Creber
Film Editor: Norman Colbert
Set Decorations: Thomas Little
Costumes: Herschel
Musical Direction: Samuel Kaylin
Sound: E. Clayton Ward and William H. Anderson
  

CAST:

Sidney Toler: Charlie Chan
Cesar Romero: [Fred] Rhadini
Pauline Moore: Eve Cairo
Sen Yung: Jimmy Chan
Douglas Fowley: Pete Lewis
June Gale: Myra Rhadini
Douglas Dumbrille: Thomas Gregory (alias Stewart Salisbury)
Sally Blane: Stella Essex
Billie Seward: Bessie Sibley
Wally Vernon: Elmer Kelner
Donald MacBride: Deputy Chief J.J. Kilvaine
Charles Halton: Redley
Trevor Bardette: Abdul (called "The Turk")
Louis Jean Heydt: Paul Essex (alias Paul Ellison)
Fred Kelsey: Lead Detective in Taxi and Theater (not credited)
John Elliott: Backstage Doctor (not credited)
Kay Linaker: Sťance Apparition (not credited)
Gerald Mohr: Dr. Zodiac (not credited)
Al Kikume: Hawaiian Village Waiter: (not credited)
Jack Chefe: Audience Member (not credited)
Sayre Dearing: Audience Member (not credited)
Harold Miller: Audience Member (not credited)
Bert Moorhouse: Audience Member (not credited)
David Newell: Audience Member (not credited)
Heinie Conklin: First Taxicab Driver (not credited)
Hank Mann: Second Taxicab Driver (not credited)
Harry Strang: Taxicab Dispatcher (not credited)
Harold Goodwin: Airline Steward (not credited)
Margaret Mann: Airline Passenger (not credited)
Imboden Parrish: Airline Passenger (not credited)
Gloria Roy: Airline Passenger (not credited)
Charles Tannen: Airline Passenger (not credited)
Tom Quinn: Person at Arrival Gate (not credited)
Arthur Rankin: Airline Official (not credited)
Frank Meredith: Second Detective (not credited)
Bruce Mitchell: Police Desk Sergeant (not credited)
Bud Geary: Police Officer (not credited)
Edith Hallor: Toots (not credited)  



SUMMARY:

Charlie Chan is accompanied by his son Jimmy on the China Clipper from Hawaii to San Francisco.  Jimmy, who is frightened by the bad storm that the plane is passing through, promises his Pop that, upon their arrival, he will immediately take a train and return to his college studies.  "Do not let fair skies tomorrow change restless mind," says a pleased Charlie Chan.

Also on the plane is Chan's friend, writer Paul Essex, who has just completed a mystery novel about a fake mystic.  Essex is pestered by Thomas Gregory, an insurance actuary, who slyly reads a disturbing radiogram that Paul receives.

As the plane prepares to land in San Francisco, it is discovered that Paul Essex is dead of an apparent suicide.  Chan reads the radiogram, which warns of the dire consequences if Zodiac obligations are ignored.  At the airport, Chan breaks the tragic news to Paul's wife Stella.

While still aboard the plane, Jimmy had noticed that Paul's briefcase, containing the manuscript, was missing.  Both Chans suspect that it is now in the hands of Gregory, whom Jimmy follows, while Chan, hailing a taxi, is suddenly forced into one, and finds that he is being kidnapped.  The master detective soon sees through the ruse of his two "abductors" who are actually plainclothes police officers.

Arriving at police headquarters, Chan is greeted by Deputy Chief J. J. Kilvaine, an old friend, and is introduced to reporter Pete Lewis, another acquaintance of Chan's, and magician Fred Rhadini whom Chan had met years before when, during a performance, he had borrowed the detective's watch for a magic trick returning it "in pieces."  Rhadini, who operates Rhadini's Temple of Magic at the World's Fair on San Francisco's Treasure Island, and Lewis explain that they are on a crusade to expose fake psychics.  Their primary target is an individual who is known as Dr. Zodiac, whom they suspect is behind the suicides of three individuals who were his clients.  Chan, who suspects that Paul Essex is Dr. Zodiac's fourth victim, states, "In humble opinion, suicide induced by blackmail is murder."

Chan goes to Zodiac's mansion and is followed there by Pete and Rhadini, who is thinly disguised as a Berkeley professor.  At the door, the three ask to consult with the heavily masked spiritualist.  While Rhadini and the reporter proclaim that Zodiac is a fake, Chan cautions them to be careful because of the psychic's obvious mental delusions.

Later that evening, Chan attends a party that Rhadini hosts in honor of San Francisco's Golden Gate International Exposition, where he is fascinated by the mind reading abilities of Eve Cairo, who is Rhadini's assistant and Pete's girlfriend.  Later during the party, a knife is thrown at the detective by an unseen assailant, but narrowly misses its target.

After the party, Chan, returning to Zodiac's mansion, is once again followed there by Pete and Rhadini.  Upon entering the supposedly deserted edifice, the trio discovers that Jimmy is also there.  The information that Dr. Zodiac has been using to blackmail his clients is found, and Chan makes sure that all of the files are burned. "Am asking flames to keep secrets of many unfortunate people," says a somber Chan.

The next day, Chan decides to use Dr. Zodiac's vanity to trap him. Rhadini issues a public challenge to Zodiac to put his psychic powers to the test at Rhadini's theater.  Zodiac accepts the challenge and arrives at the theater in a suitably dramatic fashion.  However, while Rhadini is levitating Eve Cairo above the audience, Dr. Zodiac is murdered.  When his mask is removed, the victim is revealed to be the medium's servant, Abdul, "the Turk."

CONCLUSION:

Kilvane then informs Chan that Gregory, who is in the audience, is actually Stewart Salzbury, an insurance detective currently investigating the suicides. Working together, they help recreate the levitation trick to determine who killed Abdul.  This time, instead of Eve Cairo, Jimmy is positioned on the levitating table.  When Rhadini performs the trick again, the magician is stabbed in the shoulder by a knife.  Chan then employs Cairo's mind reading ability to help identify the assailant and murderer.  While Chan questions Eve, she states the Dr. Zodiac is not dead and that he is in the theater.  Suddenly, a hand appears with a gun.  The gunman is overcome, and is seen to be Rhadini, the real Zodiac, who had had Abdul pose as the medium in order to fool the police into thinking that he was dead.  Chan demonstrates how Rhadini had used his magic wand as a blowgun to kill Abdul.  He then wounded himself to avoid suspicion.

After Rhadini is arrested and taken away, Jimmy, who stands next to his pop, falls through a trap door on stage.  Chan faces the audience, smiling with apparent satisfaction as the curtain descends and the case is closed.

NOTES: According to Hollywood Reporter news items and production charts, John Carradine and Joyce Compton were to be included in the cast of this film, but their participation in the completed picture is doubtful.  According to Kay Linaker, Gerald Mohr was the voice of Dr. Zodiac.  An April 19, 1939 Hollywood Reporter news item refers to the film as "Charlie Chan at the World's Fair."  The Golden Gate International Exposition, held on Treasure Island in San Francisco Bay February 1939 to October 1940, provided the backdrop for some of the picture's action.

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



CHARLIE CHAN'S APHORISMS:

One scholar in family better than two detectives.
 
Only diligent workman can survive Hawaiian hospitality.

Unhappy news sometimes correct self next day.

Impossible to miss someone who will always be in heart.

Sometimes black magic very close to blackmail.

Do not challenge supernatural unless armed with sword of truth.
 
Even draperies may have ears.

If request music, must be willing to pay for fiddler.

To destroy false prophet, must unmask him before eyes of believers.

Father who depends on son is happy or foolish according to son.

"Great happiness follows great pain."  (Spoken by Eve Cairo as she read Chan's mind)
 
Do not need brass band to commit simple burglary.

Favorite pastime of man is fooling himself.
 
Anything possible.

If befriend donkey, expect to be kicked.

Crime never solved by books.

Swelled head sometimes give police more cooperation than criminal mistake.

Obvious clues, like tricks in magic, usually prove deceptive.


OTHER WORTHY STATEMENTS:

Do not let fair skies tomorrow change restless mind.  (To Jimmy who, because of his fear of flying during a bad storm, expressed his love and appreciation for his Pop)

Strange for man who gambles on life for business to cause death for pastime.  (To Paul Essex regarding Thomas Gregory)
 
Hope hospitality [of San Francisco] will have same generous size as shoes of brother police officers.  (To the two plainclothes officers who had just "kidnapped" Charlie Chan)
 
In humble opinion, suicide induced by blackmail is murder.  (To Pete Lewis and Fred Rhadini)

Voice of crime still very faint.  (To Deputy Captain Kilvaine)

Hunch say "yes" but facts say "maybe."  (To Deputy Captain Kilvaine)

Little mouse lucky his clothes do not fit elephant.  (To Jimmy who had just noted that his Pop was wearing his best tie)

Sharp words from sharp tongue?  (To Betsy Sibley regarding Myra Rhadini)

Finger of death fit glove perfectly.  (After placing a knife in its scabbard which was found on "The Turk")

Am asking flames to keep secrets of many unfortunate people.  (To Pete Lewis and Fred Rhadini after setting fire to Dr. Zodiac's files containing information used to blackmail individuals)

We are destroying web of spider, now let us find spider.  (To Pete Lewis and Fred Rhadini)
 
Modesty forbids acknowledgement.  (To Thomas Gregory following a compliment)

Young man imitate puppy dog chasing bumble bee.  (Regarding Jimmy as he runs out to chase suspect Thomas Gregory)

Criminal egotist find pleasure in laughing at police.  (To Pete Lewis and Jimmy)

Recommend you imitate excellent example of Sphinx and keep silent.  (To Jimmy)


JIMMY CHAN'S "CHANISM":

As Pop would put it: "Swelled head gives owner more trouble than indigestion."



REVIEW:

Variety, August 23, 1939

In this one, Charlie Chan bumps into a murder mystery involved with the psychic and astrological and proceeds to unravel the affair at a performance in a Treasure Island (San Francisco Fair) theatre.  With Chan's gumshoeing abilities now well known to film audiences after about 25 episodes, solution is secondary to the story unwinding through a maze of weird and spooky episodes.

Picture is rather slow in spots, but holds up generally to pace set by previous Chan adventures to satisfy the whodunit fans in the subsequent runs as supporting feature.  Only reason for the Treasure Island tab in title is to tie into topical situation.  Aside from a few stock shots of the western fair, theatre supposedly on the grounds could be anywhere.

When fiction writer friend of Chan is suicide on Clipper plane bound for Frisco, Chan interests himself in finding the reasons.  Trail leads him to Zodiac, racketeering mystic, who holds clients in his power through threats of blackmail.  Chan is assisted by Cesar Romero, operating illusionist theatre at the Fair, and Douglas Fowley, reporter exposing rackets of the mystics and astrologists.  After usual confusing trails presented to the audience, with Douglas Dumbrille pointed as most likely suspect, Chan discloses the identity of Zodiac during performance on the theatre stage.

Romero, Dumbrille, Donald McBride and Fowley are most prominent in support.  Chan's No. 2 son, Sen Yung, does much to confuse things with amateurish display of detecting abilities.

Production background is up to standard set by previous releases in the series.

 
 

FILM NOTES:

 
PROBABLE DATE: October 22-23, 1939 (Charlie Chan states, "Tomorrow is first day of scorpion symbol in Chinese calendar."  Since the Chinese calendar is based on twelve animals, not including a scorpion, we must assume that Mr. Chan was slightly confused and simply meant that "tomorrow" would begin the month of Scorpio based on the Western horscope.  Therefore, "tomorrow" would be October 23.)
 
DURATION: Two days 
 
LOCATION: San Francisco, California
 
JIMMY CHAN'S CURRENT AGE: 20 (Jimmy states that he will be 21 "...if I reach my next birthday.")
 
ACCORDING TO THOMAS GREGORY'S STATISTICS, THE NUMBER OF YEARS THAT JIMMY CAN EXPECT TO LIVE: 45.16 years
 
THE TITLE OF THE NOVEL READ BY CHARLIE CHAN ABOARD THE CLIPPER: Romantic Moon
 
THE NUMBER OF CHILDREN IN THE CHAN FAMILY CURRENTLY: 13
 
THE TITLE OF THE BOOK THAT PAUL ESSEX HAD JUST FINISHED WRITING: The Secret of the Pigmy Arrow
 
ACCORDING TO PAUL ESSEX, THE PRICE THAT ONE WILL EXPECT TO PAY FOR A COPY OF HIS NEW BOOK WHEN IT IS RELEASED: $2.00
 
THE LOCATION IN HONOLULU WHERE PAUL ESSEX AND THOMAS GREGORY HAD NEIGHBORING BUNGALOWS: Waikiki
 
THE CALIBER OF THE GUN THAT, ACCORDING TO PAUL ESSEX, THOMAS GREGORY USED FOR "SHOOTING LITTLE BIRDS": .22
 
THE MONUMENT AT THE 1939 "CENTURY OF PROGRESS EXHIBITION" THAT WAS NOTED BY THE PASSENGERS OF THE CLIPPER AS IT PREPARED TO LAND IN SAN FRANCISCO: Tower of the Sun (mistaken by Jimmy Chan as the Chinese Pagoda)
 
THE RADIOGRAM RECEIVED BY PAUL ESSEX ABOARD THE CHINA CLIPPER:

The radiogram that Paul Essex had received.

THE BRIDGE SEEN AS THE CLIPPER HEADS TO THE TREASURE ISLAND DOCK: Oakland Bay Bridge (completed in 1936)
 
THE LENGTH OF PAUL ESSEX' STAY IN HONOLULU: One month
 
THE TEXT OF PAUL ESSEX' RADIOGRAM SENT TO HIS WIFE:
 
"CAN'T ESCAPE ZODIAC.
GOOD-BYE MY LOVE.
          
          PAUL"
 
THE POSITION IN LINE OF THE TAXICAB THAT PICKED CHARLIE CHAN UP: Eighth ("Number eight up!")
 
THE NUMBER OF THE YELLOW CAB COMPANY TAXI THAT PICKED UP THE "KIDNAPPED" CHARLIE CHAN: 336
 
CHARLIE CHAN'S FRIEND: Deputy Captain J.J. Kilvaine
 
ANOTHER FRIEND OF CHARLIE CHAN: Pete Lewis (Charlie Chan: "Police reporter Pete Lewis, friend of many years.")  (Pete Lewis: "I've known Charlie ever since I started covering the police blotter at the old Powell Street station.")
 
THE NEWSPAPER FOR WHICH PETE LEWIS WORKED: The San Francisco Union-Telegram
 
WHEN CHARLIE CHAN HAD LAST SEEN RHADINI PERFORM: "Five years ago" (1934)  (According to Charlie Chan, Rhadini had borrowed a watch "...five years ago for trick and returned in many pieces." [probably during a performance in Honolulu])
 
THE CAPTIONS ON PRESS CLIPPINGS THAT RHADINI SHOWED TO CHARLIE CHAN:
 
"Magician Unmasks
Fake Yogi"
 
"RHADINI EXPOSES
 CRYSTAL GAZER"
 
THE TEXT OF THE NOTE HANDED TO CHARLIE CHAN AT POLICE HEADQUARTERS:
 
"Do not challenge the
supernatural unless
you are prepared to
visit your ancestors."
 
CHARLIE CHAN'S HOTEL IN SAN FRANCISCO: St. Francis
 
THE IDENTITY USED BY FRED RHADINI AT DR. ZODIAC'S HOUSE: Professor Bixby of Berkeley
 
THE ANTIQUE ITEMS AS NOTED BY CHARLIE CHAN AT DR. ZODIAC'S HOUSE:
 
"Table lamp of ancient Egypt - Rameses Dynasty"
 
"Persian sacrificial knife - also very old"
 
DR. ZODIAC'S INTRODUCTORY TITLE: "Dr. Zodiac, the Eye of Allah Matta."
 
ACCORDING TO DR. ZODIAC, THE IDENTITY OF HIS "CONTROL" DURING THE SEANCE: "An Egyptian priestess who passed beyond 3,000 years ago."
 
DR. ZODIAC'S FEE FOR CHARLIE CHAN'S "PSYCHIC CONSULTATION": $20
 
THE HOTEL WHERE THOMAS GREGORY ORIGINALLY STAYED IN SAN FRANCISCO: Hotel Walling
 
THE LOCATION OF THE PARTY THROWN BY FRED RHADINI AT TREASURE ISLAND: "Hawaiian Village"
 
ACCORDING TO THOMAS GREGORY, THE ODDS AGAINST FELLOW TRAVELERS MEETING AGAIN WITHIN 48 HOURS: "...40 to 1..."
 
ACCORDING TO FRED RHADINI, THE NUMBER OF PERFORMANCES GIVEN BY RHADINI EACH DAY AT THE "TEMPLE OF MAGIC" ON TREASURE ISLAND: "...I'll give two performances a day at the Temple of Magic." 
 
THE QUESTIONS ASKED BY RHADINI OF EVE CAIRO WHILE THE LATTER WAS UNDER HYPNOSIS (AND HER ANSWERS):
 
Rhadini: "What have I in my hand?"
 
Cairo: "It is a ring, a gold wedding ring.  In it are engraved words: 'Bopsie loves Toots.'"
 
Rhadini: "I've been asked a question; what is it?"
 
Cairo: "The lady wishes to know if she will marry again this year."
 
Rhadini: "What have I in my hand?"
 
Cairo: A card.  There are Chinese characters on it...  (after reading Charlie Chan's mind as to the meaning ot the characters)  The Chinese words mean: 'Great happiness follows great pain.'"
 
Rhadini: "Can you tell us what else Mr. Chan is thinking?"
 
Cairo: "Dr. Zodiac.  I hear the name Dr. Zodiac in his thoughts."
 
Rhadini: "Would you please concentrate Miss Cairo.  What do I hold in my hand?"
 
Cairo: "It is...you...There's someone else.  I can't go on...I can't.  I hear death among us.  I'm frightened.  There's evil here.  Someone here is thinking murder!"
 
THE TEXT OF THE ENGRAVED SIGN OUTSIDE OF DR. ZODIAC'S RESIDENCE:
 
"DR. ZODIAC
PSYCHIC GUIDANCE" 
 
THE FAMOUS VENTIRILOQUIST'S DUMMY AS MENTIONED BY CHARLIE CHAN: "Doctor (Zodiac) excellent ventrilloquist - uncle maybe to Charlie McCarthy."
 
THE COMBINATION TO DR. ZODIAC'S SAFE:
 
"Start 0
2 - L to 5
1 - R to 18
2 - L to 21
1 - R to 0"
 
THE CAPTION ABOVE THE NEWSPAPER PHOTO OF PAUL ESSEX FOUND IN A FILE IN DR. ZODIAC'S SAFE:
 
"PAUL ELLISON GETS
  THREE YEARS FOR
   STOCK SWINDLE"
 
ACCORDING TO CHARLIE CHAN, THE GIST OF THE STORY WRITTEN BY PAUL ESSEX: "...story about fake psychic who blackmail clients."
 
THOMAS GREGORY'S ACTUAL OCCUPATION: Private investigator for the Granville Insurance Company
 
THE BOOK USED BY CHARLIE CHAN TO LOOK UP DR. ZODIAC'S PROBABLE PSYCHOLOGICAL DISORDER: History of Psychology by Kahne
 
ACCORDING TO CHARLIE CHAN, THE DISORDER THAT BEST EXPLAINED DR. ZODIAC'S BEHAVIOR: "...pseudologia fantastica."
 
THE DESCRIPTION OF "PSEUDOLOGIA FANTASTICA" AS READ FROM KAHNE'S BOOK BY CHARLIE CHAN: "Pathological liars and swindlers suffer from exaggerated fantacy, unleashed vanity, and great ambition which robs them of caution known to saner men."
 
THE SAN FRANCISCO UNION-TELEGRAM HEADLINE AND STORY:
 
"RHADINI CHALLENGES
DR. ZODIAC TO TEST!"
 
"Psychic to Win $5000
If Magician Cannot
Expose Doctor's Claim"
 
THE TEXT OF THE NOTE LEFT AT RHADINI'S TEMPLE OF MAGIC BY DR. ZODIAC:
 
"I accept your
challenge to a
demonstration of
my powers.  I shall
appear on your
Stage to-night.
     Dr. Zodiac"
 
THE LOCATION OF RHADINI'S TEMPLE OF MAGIC: Across from Greenwich Village
 
THE TEXT OF THE POSTER LOCATED AT THE LEFT SIDE OF THE ENTRANCE TO RHADINI'S TEMPLE OF MAGIC:
    
"EVE CAIRO
THE
WORLD'S GREATEST
LIVING
MIND
READER"
 
THE TEXT OF THE POSTER LOCATED AT THE RIGHT SIDE OF THE ENTRANCE TO "RHADINI'S TEMPLE OF MAGIC":
      
"RHADINI
THE
INDESPUTABLE
MASTER
OF
MAGIC"
 
THE TEXT OF THE LAST PAGE OF PAUL ESSEX' MANUSCRIPT:
    
     "'But one thing more,'
Jim asked.  'When did you
first suspect the fake yogi?'
     Winston laughed.  'Oh, that!
When the Pigmy arrow turned
up, I knew then that the
murder of Dr. Worth had not
been accomplished by the sword
cane but by the poisoned Pigmy
arrow.  It was the only weapon
that fitted the mortal wound -
and, as I've demonstrated, the
false yogi had access to that
arrow.'
 
           THE END"
 
THE TEXT OF THE SIGN AT THE PIGMY HUNTER DISPLAY AT RHADINI'S TEMPLE OF MAGIC:
 
"PIGMY HUNTER
(BATWA TRIBE)"
 
THE ITEMS THAT FELL FROM JIMMY CHAN'S COAT WHILE ON STAGE: Rubber balls, a fake bouquet of flowers, a fake dead duck, a live white rabbit, a live white dove

 
 

GLOSSARY:

Batwa tribe - Located within the borders of present day Rwanda, the Batwa are among the "pygmy" peoples of central Africa.
Sign: "PIGMY HUNTER (BATWA TRIBE)"
 
big shot - (Slang)  An important or influential person.
Pete Lewis: "Rhadini's improved now, Charlie, he's a big shot."
 
Billy Goat Hill - A location at the top of Beacon Street in the southern portion of the city of San Francisco, California.  Today, the location of Billy Goat Hill Park.
Deputy Chief J.J. Kilvaine: "Well, Charlie, if this don't send me back to Billy Goat Hill pounding pavement..."
 
buffaloed - (Slang)  (1) To intimidate, as by a display of confidence or authority.  (2) To deceive; hoodwink.  (3) To confuse; bewilder.
Pete Lewis: "...you might have her buffaloed, but you don't fool me!"
 
Charlie McCarthy - A famous character created by ventriloquist Edgar Bergen (1903-1978).  Early performances were in vaudeville and one-reel movie shorts, but Bergen and Charlie McCarthy achieved greatest success on the radio.  He and Charlie were seen at a Hollywood party by Noel Coward, who recommended them for an appearance on Rudy Vallee's program.  Their appearance was so successful that the next year they were given their own show.  Under various sponsors, they were on the air from 1937 to 1956.
Charlie Chan: "Doctor excellent ventrilloquist - uncle maybe to Charlie McCarthy."

Chinese Pagoda - Called the Golden Pagoda of Chinatown, this structure was the prominant feature of the Chinese Village section of the Golden Gate International Exposition, held at Treasure Island in San Francisco from 1939 to 1940.  A pagoda is a religious building of the Far East, especially a multistory Buddhist tower, erected as a memorial or shrine.
Jimmy Chan: "That's the Chinese Pagoda."
 
chin fest - (Slang)  A lengthy conversation.
Deputy Chief J.J. Kilvane: "You and I are going to have an old fashioned chin fest, Charlie."
 
Clipper (Pan American World Airways Clipper) - On November 11, 1935, Pan American Airway's China Clipper, a Martin M-130 flying boat, made the first transpacific airmail flight from San Francisco to Honolulu, Midway Island, Wake Island, Guam, and Manila in the Philippines.
 
The China Clipper was the largest flying boat ever, and gave passengers the opportunity to fly in airborne luxury.   The Clipper had a spacious lounge which was wider than a Pullman club car.  In the lounge, passengers could sit in broad armchairs, and they could dine on food served on china.

Following the route pioneered by Captain Musick, Pan American World Airways Clippers flew on a schedule of stops that stretched from San Francisco to Manila.  Hong Kong was soon added as the final leg of a journey that would allow passengers to fly all the way from the U.S. mainland to China. 

Although the Clippers were each named for their destinations, that is, Hawaii, Philippine, and China, they were commonly referred to as "China Clippers."  The China Clipper cruised at about 160 miles per hour and had a range of 3,200 miles.  Later models that were added to the Clipper fleet could cruise at just over 180 miles per hour at a range of about 3,500 miles.  A flight between San Francisco and Honolulu cost passengers a hefty $720 and would take between 18 and 20 hours, flying at an altitude of about 8,000 feet. 

Regular Clipper service between Honolulu and the mainland continued throughout the 1930s and into the start of the next decade until the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.

Charlie Chan made fairly regular use of the Clipper route between Honolulu and San Francisco, flying on the plane to the mainland in Charlie Chan's SecretCharlie Chan at the Olympics, Charlie Chan in Reno, and Charlie Chan at Treasure Island.

cobwebs - Confusion; disorder.
Paul Essex: "This trip blew the cobwebs out of my head."
 
dope - (Slang)  Information.
Pete Lewis: All kinds of dope about all kinds of people."
 
ectoplasm - (1) The visible substance believed to emanate from the body of a spiritualistic medium during communication with the dead.  (2) An immaterial or ethereal substance, especially the transparent corporeal presence of a spirit or ghost. 
Charlie Chan: "Ectoplasm most interesting - ghost filled with hot air."
 
four-flusher - (Slang)  One who makes empty claims; a bluffer.
Pete Lewis: "Why, you cheap four-flusher..."
 
gave...the slip - (Slang)  To escape the pursuit of.
Jimmy Chan: "Gregory gave me the slip at Customs."
 
Golden Gate International Exposition - Held on Treasure Island in San Francisco Bay from from February 18 through October 29, 1939 and from May 25 to October 29, 1940, the Golden Gate International Exposition, which provides the backdrop for much of Charlie Chan at Treasure Island, demonstrated an eclectic blending of European, Eastern and Latin American architectural, landscape, and artistic styles.  Evoking the exoticism of Pacific Rim cultures such as the Mayas, Incas, Malaysians, and Cambodians, many of the architectural structures reflected a nostalgic look at past civilizations.  However, there were examples of a stream-lined, international style architecture, seemingly out of place with these other styles, but meant to reflect western nations along the Pacific Rim.  Reinforcing this theme of modernism and technological innovation was the celebration of the earlier completion of the Golden Gate and San Francisco/Oakland Bay Bridges. 
 
The "West Coast World's Fair" created a distinctive environment, reflecting the dreams and aspirations of its time.  Its theme, the "Pageant of the Pacific" allowed the exposition to look out beyond the continental United States to the Pacific Rim, not only accommodating these diverse cultures, but also making them the focus of the exhibition.  This theme was developed in much of the programming, architectural design and realization of the fair.  Architectural contributors included Arthur Brown, Jr., George Kelham, Lewis Hobart, William Merchant, Bernard Maybeck and Timothy L. Pflueger.

The Golden Gate International Exposition also took advantage of the high-tech developments, especially noted in the lighting of the fair.  Jesse Stanton played the role of Jules Guerin as master colorist; and dramatic, indirect lighting, under the control of A.F. Dickerson, was used once again.  Women played a prominent role in this exhibition, not only in helping with organization, but being focused upon as contributors to art exhibitions and to the special events at the fair.

The fair at Treasure Island, as with all international expositions, attempted to bring together the diverse populations of the world in peace.  Situated on either side by two major difficult times, the Depression and World War II, the Golden Gate International Exposition was the last fair of this scale hosted by California.

Adapted from: Hard Times, High Expectations: Golden Gate International Exposition, www.bancroft.berkeley.edu.

The Golden Gate International Exposition was the location of much of the action seen in Charlie Chan at Treasure Island.

The Golden Gate International Exposition

gutter snipe - (slang)  A neglected boy running at large; a street Arab.
Bessie Sibley: "Why, that jealous gutter snipe!"
 
gyp - (slang)  (1) A fraud or swindle.  (2) One who defrauds; a swindler. 
Pete lewis: "...I'll give you a blast in print that'll run you out of this town with your gyp fortune telling!"
 
hook, line, and sinker - (informal)  Without reservation; completely.
Pete Lewis: "Zodiac took it hook, line, and sinker."
 
joint - (slang)  (1) A cheap or disreputable gathering place.  
(2) A building or dwelling.
Taxicab Driver: "I know this spook joint."
 
laid an egg - (informal)  Having failed, especially in a public performance.
Fred Rhadini: "...since the first magician laid an egg."
 
lay...cards on the table - To make frank and clear revelation, as of one's motives or intentions.
Thomas Gregory: "Mr. Chan, I've come to lay my cards on the table."
 
layout - (informal)  An establishment or property, especially a large residence or estate.
Pete Lewis: "Boy, what a layout."
 
mugs - Thugs, hoodlums.
Deputy Chief J.J. Kilvaine: "Now listen you two mugs..."
 
nail - (slang)  To stop and seize; catch.
Pete Lewis: "Now we can nail him."
 
nicked - Cut short; checked.
Jimmy Chan: "...but we nicked this case." 
 
on the level - (slang)  Without deception; honest.
Jimmy Chan: "Let's call up the Granville Insurance Company and find out if Gregory's on the level."
 
pegged - (informal)  To classify; categorize.
Jimmy Chan: "Gee, Pop, I certainly had him pegged wrong."
 
pin - (slang)  To attribute a crime to someone. 
Jimmy Chan: "Boy, am I going to pin it on him."
 
pinch - (slang)  To take into custody; arrest.
Charlie Chan: "Would favorite son like to make personal pinch?"
 
police blotter - The daily written record of events (as arrests) in a police station.
Pete Lewis: "...ever since I started covering the police blotter at the old Powell Street station."
 
pounding pavement - (slang)  Traveling the streets on foot; walking a particular route over and over, as a policeman who pounds a beat.
Deputy Chief J.J. Kilvaine: "Well, Charlie, if this don't send me back to Billy Goat Hill pounding pavement, I'm an Eskimo!"
 
Powell Street - A major street on San Francisco, California which traverses much of the city and crossing near to the western boundary of Chinatown.
Pete Lewis: "...ever since I started covering the police blotter at the old Powell Street station."
 
pseudologia fantastica - An elaborate and often fantastic account of exploits that is false but that the teller believes to be true.
Charlie Chan: "He is man of great ego with disease known to science as pseudologia fantastica."  (Charlie Chan continues, reading from History of Psychiatry by Kahne: 'Pathological liars and swindlers suffer from exaggerated fantasy, unleashed vanity, and great ambition which robs them of caution known to saner men.'")
 
racket - (slang)  A business or occupation.
Pete Lewis: "...to write a story about the spook racket?"
 
 
San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge (Bay Bridge) - A toll bridge which spans San Francisco Bay and links the cities of Oakland and San Francisco, and is the busiest bridge in the United States.  The Bay Bridge opened for traffic on November 12, 1936, six months before San Francisco's famous Golden Gate Bridge.
 
The San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge can be seen during its constriction in Charlie Chan's Secret as the plane carrying Chan to San Francisco prepares to arrive at that city.  The bridge can also be seen in Charlie Chan at Treasure Island in the background as Charlie Chan arrives with son, Jimmy, via Clipper flying boat, at San Francisco's Treasure Island.

San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge

squeezing - (slang) (1) Extracting by dishonest means; extorting. (2) Pressuring or intimidating (someone) to comply with a demand, as to make an extortion payment.
Deputy Chief J.J. Kilvane: "Was he squeezing Paul Essex?"
 
For a complete list from all films, please visit our Charlie Chan Glossary.

 
 

PAN AMERICAN WORLD AIRWAYS "CLIPPER":

Pan American Worls Airways 'Clipper'

Pan American World Airways Clipper in the seaplane harbor at Treasure Island in San Francisco Bay.

On November 11, 1935, Pan American Airway's China Clipper, a Martin M-130 flying boat, piloted by Captain Edwin C. Musick, made the first transpacific airmail flight from San Francisco to Honolulu, Midway Island, Wake Island, Guam, and Manila in the Philippines.

The China Clipper was the largest flying b                      oat ever, and gave passengers the opportunity to fly in airborne luxury.  The Clipper had a spacious lounge which was wider than a Pullman club car.  In the lounge, passengers could sit in broad armchairs, and they could dine on food served on china.

Following the route pioneered by Captain Musick, Pan American World Airways Clippers flew on a schedule of stops that stretched from San Francisco to Manila.  Hong Kong was soon added as the final leg of a journey that would allow passengers to fly all the way from the U.S. mainland to China. 

Although the Clippers were each named for their destinations, that is, Hawaii, Philippine, and China, they were commonly referred to as "China Clippers."  The China Clipper cruised at about 160 miles per hour and had a range of 3,200 miles.  Later models that were added to the Clipper fleet could cruise at just over 180 miles per hour at a range of about 3,500 miles.  A flight between San Francisco and Honolulu cost passengers a hefty $720 and would take between 18 and 20 hours, flying at an altitude of about 8,000 feet. 

Regular Clipper service between Honolulu and the mainland continued throughout the 1930s and into the start of the next decade until the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.  Charlie Chan made fairly regular use of the Clipper route between Honolulu and San Francisco, flying on the plane to the mainland in Charlie Chan's Secret (1936), Charlie Chan at the Olympics (1937), Charlie Chan in Reno (1939), and Charlie Chan at Treasure Island (1939).

Pan American World Airways 'Clipper'

 
 

TREASURE ISLAND, SITE OF THE 1939 SAN FRANCISCO WORLD'S FAIR:

Trail's End for '39ers

During the last decade the world's two largest bridges have been flung across San Francisco Bay...and to celebrate their completion, the world's largest man-made island now has risen from the waves.

exhibitionthemegirl.jpg

Zoe Del Lantis, Exposition Theme Girl, innaugurates
United Air Lines DC-3 Mainliner express service to the
Pacific Northwest, April 1939.  Photo by Haas-Schreiner.  

Beneath the level waters of the Bay is an uneven terrain down to 2 to 382 feet.  Mariners long have avoided the treacherous shoals just north of Yerba Buena Island, in no place deeper than 26 feet.  These watery acres were waste territory -- until it was decided to create upon them the site of the Golden Gate International Exposition, to be known as Treasure Island during 1939 and thereafter to become an airport for the trans-Pacific clipper ships.

Rock walls composed of 287,000 tons of quarried rock were sunk in the shoals. Twenty million cubic yards of sea bottom were dredged up and piled within the walls. When the sand was 13 feet above sea level, engineers "unsalted" it by a leaching process.  Barges brought 50,000 cubic yards of loam from the mainland to enrich it.  When the engineers finished, a 400-acre island, a mile long and two-thirds of a mile wide, had appeared in the Bay, connected by a 900-foot paved causeway to the Bay Bridge and equipped with ferry slips and landings for small craft and flying boats.

Meanwhile botanists were hunting through all the continents for unusual trees and plants.  For many months orchids, hibiscus, datura, rare silver trees, orange trees, and palms were acclimated in a San Francisco plant hospital, where also are the electrically heated propagation beds that bring to bloom the plants to compose the ever-changing floral patterns of the Fair grounds.  Horticultural plans call for planting 4,000 trees, 70,000 shrubs, and 700,000 flowering plants.  To sprinkle the plants--and quench the thirst of visitors--San Francisco water was piped over the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge to a 3,000,000-gallon reservoir cut in the solid rock of Yerba Buena Island.

With federal aid were commenced three permanent structures that later will serve the airport--the $800,000 administration building and the two $400,000 steel and concrete hangars, each 335 feet long and 78 feet high, used temporarily to house the $20,000,000 art exhibits and the foreign treasures loaned for the Fair.  Finally, around these structures, began to rise a $50,000,000 fantasy -- America's World's Fair on the Pacific.

The fair grounds are designed as a walled city, enclosing a series of connected courts.  Although a primary consideration was to plan step-saving routes across the 400 acres, the effect first noticed is the island's beauty--its vistas of pools, gardens, and lagoons, bordered with exotic buildings representing the Pacific nations. Cambodian, Mayan, and Incan motifs give a charming strangeness to this modern Exposition "city." 

From the Central Court, where the Island's two systems of avenues and courts intersect, rises the 400-foot Tower of the Sun.  Northward the mile-long Avenue of the Seven Seas leads to the Court of Pacifica, portal to the Fair's open-air pageant, the Cavalcade of the Golden West; southward, to the Port of the Trade Winds, anchorage for trade ships, junks, square riggers and yachts.  The main cross-avenue leads to the central Court of Honor into the Court of the East and thence to the lake of All Nations, a lagoon overlooked by the $1,500,000 United States Government Building and exhibit area.   At the north end of the island, next to the 12,000-car parking lot, lies the Gayway, a 40-acre fun zone, with its cyclone coaster, rocket ship, giant crane, and other thrill rides and shows.

In the exhibit pavilions, visitors will see a $1,000,000 "mineral mountain" of ore with miniature models showing gold mining operations and a $1,000,000 relief map of Western America--so large that the borders of the States can be traversed on foot paths.  They will witness demonstrations of the electric eye, television, electronic music, atom-smashing, chemical agriculture.  The latest sub-stratosphere transport planes--even Douglas Corrigan's famed "Corrigan Crate"--will be on exhibition. Forty or more foreign nations will exhibit in the International Building and Pacific Nations' Exhibit Area; the United States and nearly half the States of the Union, in the Federal Building and Hall of Western States; the State and Counties of California, in the California Building Group.  A cross-section of American business and industry will be displayed in pavilions and exhibits valued at more than $15,000,000--the Halls of Varied Industries, Electricity and Communications, Foods and Beverages, Homes and Gardens, Mines, Metals, and Machinery, Science, and Vacationland.  The Fair's Gayway, a mile-long circular boulevard, will be lined with showplaces--the Chinese City, Hollywood Boulevard, Streets of the World, and many others.

The island's colors, stimulating, unforgettable, represent the first extensive application of chromotherapy--the science of health treatment by color usage.  In the daytime the effects are gained with flowers and tinted walls; at night, with fluorescent tubes, with the new "black light," with ultra-violet floods, underwater lamps, translucent glass fabric pillars, and cylindrical lanterns 75 feet high.  Some of the flower beds are played upon by artificial moonlight, others bathed in sunshine created out of neon and mercury.  The $1,000,000 illumination program presents at nightfall the illusion of a magic city of light, floating on the waters of San Francisco Bay.

From: Almanac for Thirty-Niners, compiled by the Workers of the Federal Writers' Project of the Works Progress Administration in the City of San Francisco, 1938.

 
 

PHOTOS FROM THE GOLDEN GATE INTERNATIONAL EXPOSITION:

Aerial view of Treasure Island

An aerial view of the Golden Gate International Exhibition
held on Treasure Island near San Francisco in 1939.

 
 

Court of Pacifica

The Court of Pacifica. "Pacifica," the 80-foot statue by
Ralph Stackpole, is visible at the end of the court.

 
 

Temples of the East

The Temples of the East.

 
 

Court of the Moon

A nighttime view of the Court of the Moon.

 
 

A MAP OF THE GOLDEN GATE INTERNATIONAL EXPOSITION:

Treasure Island map (Click image for larger map)

Please click here for larger version map.

 
 

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