The Jade Mask (1945)

Genres - Horror, Mystery  |   Sub-Genres - Detective Film, Whodunit  |   Run Time - 66 min.  |   Countries - USA  |  
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An engagingly silly Charlie Chan whodunit from Poverty Row company Monogram, The Jade Mask mixed science fiction with Old House melodramatics and a generous dose of comedy. The venerable Chinese detective (Sidney Toler) is this time assigned by the government to establish the whereabouts of Harper (Frank Reicher), a scientist experimenting with a formula that may turn wood into solid steel. Harper, of course, turns up very much murdered and his strange house is virtually teeming with suspects. There is the dead man's Mrs. Danvers-like sister (Edith Evanson), a vaudeville strongwoman (short subject regular Dorothy Granger), the ubiquitous British-accented butler (Cyril Delevanti), and a mute garage mechanic (Lester Dorr). Several additional murders occur right under Chan's nose -- which nobody seems to particularly mind, least of all hayseed sheriff Al Bridge -- and corpses appear to be walking up and down staircases. Despite interference from manservant Birmingham Brown (the always welcome Mantan Moreland) and the inevitably dense Number Four Son (Edwin Luke), good old Charlie manages to catch the killer -- or killers -- within the allotted 66 minutes. Moreland and Luke, the real-life brother of Number One Son Keye Luke, perform their usual comedic asides, but the best lines are awarded to Preston Sturges stock-company regular Al Bridge as the plainspoken, homily spouting sheriff. Incidentally, although masks are indeed featured in The Jade Mask, none of them is made of jade.



killing, detective, investigation, murder, private-detective, mask [disguise], victim