The World War II years, filled with espionage and spies of all sorts, were perfect for the foibles of Charlie Chan (Sidney Toler). And in his 1944 venture, America's Number One Chinese detective is enlisted by the Secret S... more »ervice to find the person who murdered the inventor of a top-secret device. Charlie takes his time as he investigates the case of a scientist murdered for devising a wayto protect US forces from German U-boats. Bedeviled by a gaggle of eccentrics, his nervous assistant (Mantan Moreland) and his exuberantly in-the-way offspring (Benson Fong and Marianne Quon),Charlie must decide which of a houseful of guests is actually the plan-purloining Master Spy!« less
""Charlie Chan in The Secret Service" was my first Chan movie. I was impressed with it. My only complaint was the scene in which Chan is riding to the mansion that the inventor was killed in, and is walking up to the mansion. Loud, blaring, music is played during this scene as if there was a fight scene going on or something. But it is apparent that Toler is trying to create interest in this new first Monogram outing, and it pays off. The low budget is futile to complain about, because the budget for the Monogram pictures never increases at any point in time. Critics should judge the Monogram Chans and state their opinion according to if they did the best job they could with the lower budget. Simply complaining about the low budget doesn't cut it, because the Monogram Chans ALL have a low budget. But if their resources are used in the best way, it can still be a good movie, low budget or not.I thought it was a good mystery that was not muddled or confusing. I would give them a thumbs up for doing their best to have a good movie. The Fox Chans were a hard act to follow, but quite a few times, Monogram did very well, lower budget and all. Of course, Benson Fong did not have the effect that the other two previous sons had, but he did well, I thought. Marianne Quon as Iris Chan works well off Benson Fong, but is only seen in this one movie. And of course, Mantan Moreland as Birmingham makes his first appearance as well, and continued throughout the series(with the exception of "The Red Dragon" and "Dangerous Money".)Of course, this movie is not "Citizen Kane", but is worth viewing."
First Monogram Chan is only fair; try another one first.
Scott MacGillivray | Massachusetts, USA | 06/05/2000
(2 out of 5 stars)
"The first of low-budget Monogram Pictures' Charlie Chan mysteries has some flaws, but was successful enough to give the series a new lease on life. Chan investigates the murder of a scientist and the disappearance of secret plans. The film is too stagey; most of the mystery is talked out in ensemble scenes, with a minimum of action. Mantan Moreland (billed second) is a plus, Marianne Quon (as Chan's daughter) is a minus, because she doesn't deliver dialogue convincingly. The underscoring is laughable, with much-too-dramatic music blaring when nothing exciting is happening. The tape's picture and sound are excellent. Okay for Chan fans and B-movie buffs, but if you don't know the Monogram Chans, try "The Shanghai Cobra" or "The Scarlet Clue" instead."
First Monogram Chan is one of the weaker efforts.
Marc Capralis | Temecula, CA United States | 08/21/1999
(2 out of 5 stars)
"Sidney Toler returns as detective Charlie Chan in this Monogram picture after being dropped from 20th Century Fox in 1942. Monogram was known as the king of the "B" movies. This film introduces Benson Fong as Number 3 son, Tommy, and Marianne Quon as Number 2 daughter, Iris. It also introduces the comedian Mantan Moreland who would continue to play the role of Birmingham Brown in most of the Monogram Chan films. Some politically correct types might criticize Moreland as being a black stereotype, but, to me, he adds a refreshing touch of humor to these films. His material in this film is rather weak, but would get better in later films. In one scene, Tommy and Iris start talking to Chan in jive talk. Chan says "Could please speak English?" Tommy replies "Yeah Pop! We're hep cats of the younger generation! You're Confucius. I'm Confucius Jr.!" The classic Chan line in this film is "Detective without curiosity like glass eye at keyhole---no good!""
An early entry but very good
Patrick W. Crabtree | Lucasville, OH USA | 03/23/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Of course, I'm awarding this film five stars specifically to benefit Chan-Nazis like myself in deciding where this one fits in, rating-wise, alongside all the others.
I enjoy Sidney Toler (which this one is) and Warner Oland Chan films equally and I place this particular entry in the top 30 percent of them all. "Castle in the Desert" stands far and above ALL the rest, in my opinion, and then you have "Charlie Chan in The Jade Mask," which rates just above this entry, "Charlie Chan in the Secret Service". I see this one as about evenly equal to "Charlie Chan in Reno," or to "Charlie Chan and The Wax Museum".
In "Charlie Chan in the Secret Service," a renowned scientist is under full-time guard by G-men who foolishly allow the old man to go off by himself downstairs in his large home to greet guests for a cocktail party. Of course, he meets his demise in a closet near the bottom of the stairs and his valuable plan is stolen from his person; however, the G-men are quickly downstairs and on the guests before anyone can flee the scene. Charlie is called in to find both the murderer and the stolen plan.
The guests represent a strange and eccentric aggregation of humanity, (a brilliant cast), and the viewer is pointed first toward one, then towards another of them as the possible culprit. Mantan Moreland yields his usual great performance, providing his obligatory comic relief.
This is a Charlie Chan film worth watching by anyone who enjoys the older black-and-white whodunnits, (such as the old Basil Rathbone Sherlock Holmes films), but it's a special treat for Charlie's many fans."
Solid Performances by Sidney Toler,Mantan Moreland and Benso
Peter Kenney | Birmingham, Alabama, USA | 06/30/2006
(3 out of 5 stars)
"I like CHARLIE CHAN IN THE SECRET SERVICE although I agree with some of the other reviewers that this low budget movie has many obvious shortcomings.For the Chan fan it is still an entertaining entry about a scientist who dies mysteriously in his home which is full of house guests.His plans for a new torpedo are missing and the guests are the leading suspects in both the theft of the plans and the possible murder of the scientist.Charlie Chan is called in as an agent of the Secret Service to assist in the case.
Sidney Toler plays the part of Charlie Chan and he is joined by Benson Fong as Tommie Chan and Marianne Quon as Iris Chan. The cast also includes the excellent comic Mantan Moreland.
The producers were Philip N. Krasne and James S. Burkett. The director was Phil Rosen and the screenplay was written by George Callahan."