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Charlie Chan in Rio


Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corporation
Distributed: Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corporation, September 5, 1941
Production: May 8 to late May 1941
Copyright: Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corporation, September 5, 1941; LP10734
Previewed: New York, N.Y., August 21, 1941
Sound: RCA Sound System
Film: Black and white
Length: 5,540 feet
Running Time: 60 or 62 minutes
Production Code Administration Certificate Number: 7370
Songs: "They Met in Rio (A Midnight Serenade)" and "I, Yi, Yi, Yi (Like You Very Much)"
 (music and lyrics by Mack Gordon and Harry Warren)
 (both songs originally written for That Night in Rio [Twentieth Century-Fox, 1941])
Source: Based on the character "Charlie Chan" created by Earl Derr Biggers


Executive Producer: Sol M. Wurtzel
Director: Harry Lachman
Assistant Director: William Eckhardt (not credited)
Screenplay: Samuel G. Engel and Lester Ziffren
Director of Photography: Joseph P. MacDonald
Art Direction: Richard Day and Lewis Creber
Film Editor: Alexander Troffey
Set Decorations: Thomas Little
Costumes: Herschel
Musical Direction: Emil Newman
Sound: Alfred Bruzlin and Harry M. Leonard
Publicity Director: Harry Brand (not credited)


CAST:

Sidney Toler: Charlie Chan
Mary Beth Hughes: Joan Reynolds (also called Joannie)
Cobina Wright, Jr.: Grace Ellis
Ted North: Clark B. Denton (billed as Carlos Dantas)
Victor Jory: Alfredo Marana (alias of Alfredo Cardosa)
Harold Huber: Delegado (Captain) of Police Souto (billed as Chief Souto; also called Senhor Souto)
Sen Yung: Jimmy Chan
Richard Derr: Ken Reynolds
Jacqueline Dalya: Lola Dean (alias of Lola Wagner)
Kay Linaker: Helen Ashby (alias of Barbara Cardosa)
Truman Bradley: Paul Wagner
Hamilton MacFadden: Bill Kellogg
Leslie Denison: Rice
Iris Wong: Lili [Wong]
Eugene Borden: Armando
Ann Codee: Margo
Abdullah Abbas: Police Officer (not credited)           

 
 

SUMMARY:

In Rio de Janeiro, nightclub singer Lola Dean accepts the proposal of Clark Denton, then insists on hosting a party for their acquaintances Ken and Joan Reynolds, Grace Ellis, and Bill Kellogg. Clark agrees and Lola performs her act, which is watched by Charlie Chan, his number two son, Jimmy, and Captain Souto of the Rio de Janeiro police, who are there to arrest Lola for the murder of Manuel Cardosa a year and a half earlier in Honolulu. To avoid a scandal, Chan decides to arrest Lola quietly at her home later that night.

Leaving the club with Clark, Lola follows the advice of her secretary, Helen Ashby, and visits Alfredo Marana, a noted psychic. Marana, conducting with his clients what he calls "psycognosis," drugs them with an herbal ingredient added to the tobacco of a cigarette that is stimulated by the caffeine in a small cup of coffee. After Lola is drugged, Marana asks her a series of questions and records her confessing to the killing of Manuel Cardosa because she was in love with him but he would not leave his wife for her. Snapping Lola out of her trance-like state, Marana tells her what she said while under the influence of the truth-inducing drug, adding that he will keep the information confidential. On her way home, fearing that her dark secret will be revealed, Lola persuades Clark to agree to elope with her that same night and take a plane to the United States.

Back home, Lola immediately begins to pack. Guests have already begun to arrive for the party, and while Helen tells them about the impending elopement, Chan, Jimmy, and Souto arrive to arrest Lola, and soon, the singer is found stabbed to death in her bedroom. Next to her body lies a broken brooch, a crushed corsage, and a smashed wristwatch, which, Chan notes, was deliberately set to the wrong time by the killer, as the watch stem had been not pushed back in.

Helen tells Chan about Lola's visit to Marana and about the persistent attentions of a man named Paul Wagner. The two men are brought to the house, where Wagner admits that Lola was his ex-wife and that he had come earlier in an attempt to win her back. However, upon hearing of her plans to elope with Clark, Wagner had left the house. Marana then plays the recording of Lola's session, and then demonstrates his trance-inducing methods on a doubting Jimmy.

Later, Chan notes that the pin belonging to the broken brooch in Lola's room is missing and deduces that it is possibly imbedded in the killer's shoe. While Chan and Souto investigate, Jimmy catches Rice, the butler, with jewelry belonging to Lola. After a struggle, Jimmy and the police hold Rice, who admits to having stolen the jewelry, while maintaining his innocence regarding Lola Dean's murder. Before Rice can name the murderer, the lights suddenly go out, and he is shot dead.

Later, with all suspects seated at the table in the same locations where they were sitting earlier that evening, Chan reveals that Helen is in the position where, earlier, scratches were noted by the detective and Souto on the wood floor. Inspecting her shoes, Chan finds the small piece of brooch pin. He suggests that Marana place Helen in a trance in order to discover the truth. After Helen smokes the cigarette given to her by Marana and drinks the coffee, she slips into a trance, but she still maintains her innocence.

CONCLUSION:

Chan then states that he would like to be tested as well, declining the cigarette offered to him by Marana in favor of that which Helen had inhaled. The detective first drinks the coffee, but, as he puffs away on the cigarette, nothing else happens, showing that Marana had purposely given Helen a non-drugged cigarette in order to protect her.

"I killed Lola Dean!" says an emphatic Marana, whose real name, reveals Chan, is Alfredo Cardosa, the brother of Manuel, claiming that he had done so to avenge his murdered brother. However, Helen confesses that she committed the murders of Lola Dean and Rice because she is actually Barbara Cardosa, the widow of the murdered Manuel. Helen continues that she had wanted to take the recording of Lola to the police the next day, but when she had learned of her plans to elope and leave the country, she feared that Lola would once again escape. Since Rice had seen her with Lola's body, Helen had killed him to silence him.

Throughout the film, Jimmy had exhibited a growing interest in Lili Wong, Lola's personal maid. With the case resolved, Jimmy asks his Pop for permission to bring Lili back home with them to Honolulu. Chan says no, showing Jimmy his notification of having been drafted into the United States Army.

NOTES: Although Ted North's character is called "Carlos Dantas" in the film's onscreen credits and in reviews, in the picture he is called "Clark Denton." According to Hollywood Review news items, Virgil Miller was originally assigned as the photographer on this film, but was replaced by Joseph P. MacDonald, who was promoted after serving as an operative cameraman with Twentieth Century-Fox for eight years. An April 30, 1941 Hollywood Reporter news item noted that Jeanne Kelly had been loaned by Universal to appear in the next Charlie Chan film, and, while it was presumably this picture, her participation has not been confirmed. Charlie Chan in Rio bears a striking resemblance to The Black Camel, directed ten years earlier by Hamilton MacFadden, who appears in the cast of Rio. It is perhaps of interest to note that MacFadden also appeared briefly in The Black Camel, and he also had a minor role in Charlie Chan in Reno (1939).

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



CHARLIE CHAN'S APHORISMS:

Interesting problem in chemistry: sweet wine often turn nice woman sour.

Biggest mistakes in history made by people who didn't think.

Pretty girl, like lap dog, sometimes go mad.
 
Long experience teach, until murderer found, suspect everybody.
 
Good policy to have murderer consider detective dope.
 
Slippery man sometimes slip in own oil.
 
Experience teach, unless eyewitness present, every murder case is long shot.
 
Must have patience.
 
Prefer not to walk across before coming to bridge.
 
In these troubled times, best to be economical.

To one who kill, life can suddenly become most precious.

Fruits of labor sometimes very bitter.


OTHER WORTHY STATEMENTS:

Number two son behave about hot music like corn over hot fire - pops. (to Sr. Souto) 
 
As number two son would say, "Case in bag, it's cinch." (to Sr. Souto)
 
(Grace Ellis: "Remember, Mr. Chan, I'm and American citizen.") Am proud to say, so am I.

Looks like long shot begin to turn into short shot. (to Sr. Souto)



REVIEW:

Variety, August 27, 1941

'Charlie Chan in Rio' is marked by mediocre acting and direction. It looks as if the series on the Honolulu detective is coming to the end of its rope, with this one speeding that process along. This chapter is not going to make any new friends for Charlie Chan and will probably lose many old ones.

Aside from Sidney Toler and his screen son, Sen Yung, the acting borders on the terrible. And to make matters worse, many of the players suffer from the camera or makeup artist, or both, notably Cobina Wright, Jr., and Jacqueline Dalya, playing the nitery singer who murders and is murdered in turn. Furthermore, Miss Wright appears badly in need of a dramatic coach. Miss Dalya sings one song, but neither the voice nor tune is standout.

Samuel G. Engel and Lester Ziffren contributed the screen play, childish in plot and dialog. Harry Lachman's direction perhaps suffered from all the handicaps, and maybe the fact that that it looks so bad is not all his own fault. However, he certainly should check his script girl for the numerous obvious boners that crept into this film.

 
 

SONG LYRICS:

"They Met in Rio (A Midnight Serenade)" as sung by Lola Dean at the Carioca Casino

This song of love begins the night they met down in Rio,
In a caf by the bay they romanced to a midnight serenade;
She told him to forget the night they met down in Rio,
And there were tears in her eyes as they danced to a midnight serenade.
He whispered, "You must be mine forevermore,"
And then she showed him someone else's picture in the tiny little locket she wore.
And so he rode away but left his heart down in Rio,
All that remains of their love are the strains of a midnight serenade.

"I, Yi, Yi, Yi (Like You Very Much)" as heard on the record by Lola Dean played by Alfredo Marana

I, yi, yi, yi, yi, I like you very much,
I, yi, yi, yi, yi, I think you're grand;
Why, why, why is it that when I feel your touch,
My heart starts to beat, to beat the band?
I, yi, yi, yi, yi like you to hold me tight,
You are too, too, too, too, too divine;
If you want to be in someone's arms tonight,
Just be sure the arms you're in are mine.
Oh, I like your lips
And I like your eyes;
Would you like my hips
To hipsnotize you?
Si, si, si, si, si, si, see the moon above,
Way, way, way, way, way up in the blue;
Si, si, si, seor, I think I fall in love.
And when I fall, I think I fall for you.
I, yi, yi, yi,
Si, si, si, si,
I, yi, yi, yi
Can see, see, see
That you're for me.

 
 

FILM NOTES:

PROBABLE DATE: Late February 1941
 
DURATION:  One night
 
LOCATION:  Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
 
THE NAME OF THE NIGHT CLUB WHERE LOLA DEAN PERFORMED: Carioca Casino
 
THE DANCE PERFORMED AT THE CARIOCA CASINO: Brazilian Samba
 
SENHOR SOUTO'S TITLE: Delegado of Police (Captain of Police) 
 
CLARK DENTON'S PROPOSED MARRIAGE DATE TO LOLA DEAN: "...the first of the month." (of March?)
 
THE NAME OF THE MAN WHO DELIVERED PAUL WAGNER'S FLOWERS TO LOLA DEAN IN HER DRESSING ROOM: Arturo
 
THE HOTEL RESIDENCE OF BOTH ALFREDO MARANA AND PAUL WAGNER: Continental Hotel
 
ALFREDO MARANA'S ROOM NUMBER: 259 (?)
 
ALFREDO MARANA'S TERM FOR THE METHOD USED TO PLACE HIS SUBJECTS INTO A "SEMI-COMATOSE" STATE TO OBTAIN INFORMATION: Psycognosis
 
THE QUESTIONS THAT ALFREDO MARANA ASKED LOLA DEAN, AND HER ANSWERS, WHILE SHE WAS UNDERGOING "PSYGOGNOSIS":
 
Q: "What is your real name?
A: "Lola Wagner."
Q: "How long have you lived in Rio?"
A: "Over a year."
Q: "Where did you come from?"
A: "New York."
Q: "How long were you in New York?"
A: "About six months."
Q: "Where did you live before that?"
A: "Honolulu."
Q: "Why did you leave there?"
A: "I ran away."
Q: "Why?"
A: "I...I killed a man."
Q: "What was his name?"
A: Manuel Cardoso [Cardosa].  He came to Honolulu on a business trip."
Q: "Why did you kill him?"
A: "I was madly in love with him."
Q: "Didn't you know he was married?"
A: "Yes.  I wanted him to divorse his wife and marry me.  He refused, and I killed him."
 
THE NAME OF THE DOORMAN AT THE CONTINENTAL HOTEL WHO GAVE LOLA DEAN AN ORCHID FROM CLARK DENTON: Peter
 
ACCORDING TO LOLA DEAN, THE DEPARTURE TIME OF THE PLANE FROM RIO TO THE U.S. THAT SHE WANTED TO TAKE WITH CLARK DENTON: 4 a.m.
 
KEN REYNOLDS' AFFECTIONATE TERM FOR LILI WONG: "My little lotus blossom"
 
THE CARD GAME PLAYED BY GRACE ELLIS AND BILL KELLOGG: Rummy
 
GRACE ELLIS' RUMMY SCORE IN HER GAME WITH BILL KELLOGG: 67 points
 
ACCORDING TO GRACE ELLIS, THE RUMMY WINNINGS OWED HER BY BILL KELLOGG: "...a hundred and sixty you owe me."
 
THE LENGTH LENGTH OF TIME, ACCORDING TO GRACE ELLIS THAT SHE AND BILL KELLOGG HAD BEEN WAITING FOR LOLA DEAN AT DEAN'S HOUSE: "...over an hour."
 
SEVERAL CLUES, NOTED BY JIMMY CHAN, THAT WERE FOUND NEAR LOLA DEAN'S BODY:
 
Crushed corsage
Platinum brooch
A man's handkerchief with the initial "W" on it
Broken wrist watch
 
THE TIME INDICATED ON LOLA DEAN'S BROKEN WRIST WATCH: 12:15 (a.m.)
 
THE TIME AS LILI WONG HAD LET LOLA DEAN INTO THE HOUSE: 12:30 a.m.
 
ACCORDING TO SR. SOUTO, THE INFORMATION CONTAINED IN THE CORONER'S REPORT REGARDING LOLA DEAN: "Miss Dean was stabbed through the back by a very thin instrument.  The angle at which the instrument entered the body indicates she was bending over at the time, packing, perhaps.  Al;so it indicates she was not aware of the murderer's presence in the room."
 
THE QUESTIONABLE POLICE TACTIC SUGGESTED BY JOAN REYNOLDS: Third degree
 
THE TIME AS ALFREDO MARANA AND BILL KELLOGG WERE BROUGHT BY THE POLICE TO LOLA DEAN'S HOUSE: 2 a.m. (Bill Kellogg: "It's two in the morning!")
 
ACCORDING TO PAUL WAGNER, THE TIME OF HIS EARLIER VISIT TO LOLA DEAN'S HOUSE: "A couple of hours ago." (about midnight)
 
THE DATE OF PAUL WAGNER'S DIVORCE FROM LOLA DEAN: "...three years ago." (1938)
 
THE TIME AT WHICH ALFREDO MARANA HAD NOT YET LEFT HIS HOTEL ROOM: 10:30 p.m.
 
ACCORDING TO ALFREDO MARANA, THE CHEMICAL INGREDIENTS THAT COMBINE TO PRODUCE THE "PSYCOGNOSIS" STATE: "A combination of caffeine in coffee and a natural herb in the cigarette."
 
THE QUESTIONS ASKED BY CHARLIE CHAN OF SON JIMMY, AND JIMMY'S ANSWERS, WHILE THE LATTER WAS UNDER THE EFFECTS OF "PSYCOGNOSIS":
 
Q: "Explain bent fender on parent's car before we leave Honolulu."
A: "I banged it into a fire plug."
Q: "In Honolulu you say you not use car that day."
A: "I was lying."
Q: "Explain also failure in mathematics at college."
A: "Mathematics class is eight in the morning.  I am too lazy to get up that early."
Q: "What is largest interest in present murder investigation?"
A: "Miss Lili.  She sure is cute.  I go for her like flies for honey."
 
THE FAMOUS MOVIE DETECTIVE MENTIONED BY JOAN REYNOLDS: Bulldog Drummond
 
THE MONTH THAT GRACE ELLIS SUGGESTED THAT CLARK DENTON VISIT HER "DAD'S PLACE": May
 
THE QUESTIONS ASKED BY SR. SOUTO OF HELEN ASHBY, AND HER ANSWERS, WHILE SHE WAS APPARENTLY UNDER "PSYCOGNOSIS":
 
Q: "You killed Lola Dean, didn't you?"
A: "No."
Q: "But you did kill Rice, the butler."
A: "No."
Q: "Do you have any knowledge of who might have killed them?"
A: "No."
 
JIMMY CHAN'S EXPRESSED HEALTH CONCERN FOR HIS POP: "...your heart."
 
THE KNOCK-OUT MIXTURE MENTIONED BY JOAN REYNOLDS: A "Mickey"
 
THE BRANCH OF THE MILITARY SERVICE INTO WHICH JIMMY CHAN WAS DRAFTED: U.S. Army

 
 

GLOSSARY:

bumped off - (Slang)  Murdered.
Joan Reynolds: "I still think Grace bumped her off!"
 
Carioca - (Tupi-Guarana dialect)  (1) Inhabitants of Rio de Janeiro.  (2) The name of a dance choreographed for the Fred Astaire movie Flying Down to Rio, where he paired with Ginger Rogers for the first time.  It was based on earlier versions of a stage dance with the same name by Fanchon and Marco.
Sign: Carioca Casino

carried the torch - (Idiom)  To feel a painful unreciprocated love.

Bill Kellogg: "I've carried the torch for her ever since."

cinch - A sure thing; a certainty.

Jimmy Chan: "The case is in the bag, a cinch."
 
filled full of lead - (Slang)  Having been shot and killed with a gun. 
Joan Reynolds: "...I'd've filled Lola full of lead myself!"
 
flatfoot - (Slang)  A police officer.
Joan Reynolds: "A Chinese flatfoot from Brazil!"
 
fold up - Collapse, break down.
Joan Reynolds: "I wonder why he doesn't fold up?"
 
game - Ready and willing.
Alfredo Marana: "You're a game boy."
 
grape juice - (Slang)  Wine. 
Joan Reynolds: "Bring on the grape juice, Armando."
 
hep - (Slang)  Keenly aware of or knowledgeable about the latest trends or developments.
Jimmy Chan: "She got hep that we were closing in on her."
 
hooey - (Slang)  Nonsense.
Jimmy Chan: "It's all a lot of hooey to me."
 
horse feathers - Used to express disagreement or exasperation.
Jimmy Chan: "Oh, horse feathers!"
 
in the bag - (Slang)  Assured of a successful outcome; virtually accomplished or won.
Jimmy Chan: "The case is in the bag..."
 
long shot - (1) An entry, as in a horserace, with only a slight chance of winning.  (2) A bet made at great odds.  (3) A venture that offers a great reward if successful but has very little chance of success.
Charlie Chan: "Number Two Son call this - long shot."
 
looning - Expressing confused ideas; incapable of serious thought.
Rice: "Oh, stop looning like a sick cow!" 
 
Mickey (also Mickey Finn) - (Slang)  Chloral hydrate in combination with alcohol; usually administered surreptitiously to make the drinker unconscious.
Joan Reynolds: "Slip him a Mickey and he'll go under."
 
on the level - (Slang)  Without deception; honest.
Joan Reynolds: "Are you on the level?"
 
psycognosis - A process, developed by Alfredo Marana, in which a trance-like state is induced in his subjects by a combination of a special cigarette and coffee.
Helen Ashby - "You don't go to Marana for a reading.  He calls it a psycog...a psycognosis."
 
rummy - A card game, played in many variations, in which the object is to obtain sets of three or more cards of the same rank or suit.
Grace Ellis: "Rummy!"
 
samba - (1) A Brazilian ballroom dance of African origin.  (2) Music in duple meter for performing this dance.
Sr. Souto: "Have you ever seen the samba dance before, Jimmy?"
 
stag - (Slang)  A person who attends a social gathering unaccompanied by a partner, especially a man who is unaccompanied by a woman.
Ken Reynolds: "Looks like I'm stag tonight." 
 
stool pigeon - (Slang)  A person acting as a decoy or as an informer, especially one who is a spy for the police.
Joan Reynolds: "Oh, a stool pigeon, eh?"
 
third degree - Mental or physical torture used to obtain information or a confession from a prisoner.
Joan Reynolds: "If you put him under a hot light and give her the third degree she'll talk."
 
whacky - (Slang)  (1) Eccentric or irrational: a wacky person.  (2) Crazy; silly.
Jimmy Chan: "The cigarette's made Pop whacky!"
 
woozy - (1) Dazed or confused.  (2) Dizzy or queasy.
Joan Reynolds: "Whoo, am I woozy."
 
you're a bet - (Slang)  Taking someone up on their offer.
Jimmy Chan: "You're a bet!" 
  
For a complete list from all films, please visit our Charlie Chan Glossary.  

 
 

CHARLIE CHAN IN RIO TITLE SCREEN INFORMATION:

As viewers of Charlie Chan in Rio gaze upon the title screen and opening credits, they are offered something of a movie-postcard of very beautiful and storied part of the world, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.  During one of our weekly Charlie chan Family Chat and Film Viewings, a new guest logged in during an evening when we were indeed watching Rio, explaining that he lives in that city!  When asked if he could inform us as to some of the sights seen in the opening title screen, he generously obliged our request.  So with humble gratitude for the contribution of Caulos from Rio, it is hoped that the following information will be add to your future viewing pleasure.

1 - The famous Sugarloaf Mountain (Po de Acar) which overlooks Baia de Guanabara (Guanabara Bay) in beaitiful Rio de Janeiro.  Its peak rises about 1,300 feet above sea level.
 
2 - Baia de Guanabara (Guanabara Bay).  This bay is the entrance to the port of Rio de Janeiro.

A view of Sugarloaf Mountain and Guanabara Bay, as it appears today,
from a view similar to that on the title screen for Charlie Chan in Rio.

3 - Gloria Beach.
 
4 - Avenida Beira-Mar. 
 
5 - Just through the "C" in Chan, we catch a glimpse of the Hotel Gloria.  As the opening credits appear on-screen, the hotel can be seen more clearly.

The Hotel Gloria as it appears today.

 
 

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