AFI Catalog of Feature Films
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Behind That Curtain
Director: Irving Cummings (Dir)
Release Date:   30 Jun 1929
Premiere Information:   New York opening: 20 Jun 1929
Duration (in mins):   91
Duration (in feet):   8,320
Duration (in reels):   10
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Cast:   Warner Baxter (John Beetham)  
    Lois Moran (Eve Mannering)  
    Gilbert Emery (Sir Frederic Bruce)  
    Claude King (Sir George Mannering)  
    Philip Strange (Eric Durand)  
    Boris Karloff (Soudanese servant)  
    Jamiel Hasson (Habib Hanna)  
    Peter Gawthorne (Scotland Yard inspector)  
    John Rogers (Alf Pornick)  
    Montague Shaw (Hilary Galt)  
    Finch Smiles (Galt's clerk)  
    Mercedes De Valaco (Nunah)  
    E. L. Park (Charlie Chan)  

Summary: Eve Mannering, daughter of a wealthy Englishman, marries Eric Durand, a fortune hunter, who kills the investigator hired by her father to examine his past. Upon discovering the plot, Eve leaves him and joins an old family friend on a desert expedition. Later, fearing she will implicate him in her affairs, Eve deserts him and comes to San Francisco. Sir Frederic Bruce, of Scotland Yard, is attracted to the case by a mysterious pair of Chinese slippers found on the victim's body--a gift from the explorer, John Beetham. His investigation leads to a lecture hall where Beetham is speaking, and there Durand is revealed to be the murderer and is killed evading the law, leaving Eve to a happy future with the explorer. 

Production Company: Fox Film Corp.  
Production Text: Irving Cummings Production
Distribution Company: Fox Film Corp.  
Director: Irving Cummings (Dir)
  Charles Woolstenhulme (Asst dir)
Producer: William Fox (Pres)
Writer: Sonya Levien (Scen)
  Clarke Silvernail (Scen)
  Wilbur Morse Jr. (Titles)
Photography: Conrad Wells (Dir of photog)
  Dave Ragin (Dir of photog)
  Vincent Farrar (Dir of photog)
Film Editor: Alfred De Gaetano (Film ed)
Sound: George P. Costello (Sd rec)
Country: United States
Language: English
Series: Charlie Chan

Source Text: Based on the novel Behind That Curtain by Earl Derr Biggers (Indianapolis, 1928).
Authors: Earl Derr Biggers

Copyright Claimant Copyright Date Copyright Number
Fox Film Corp. 28/6/1929 dd/mm/yyyy LP506

Physical Properties: Sd: Movietone
  Sd, also Si: Also si.

Genre: Mystery
Subjects (Major): Deserts
  Fortune hunters
  Wards and guardians
  San Francisco (CA)
  Scotland Yard (London, England)

Note: Earl Derr Biggers' novel was serialized in The Saturday Evening Post (31 Mar--5 May 1928). The novel also became the basis for the 1932 Fox production Charlie Chan's Chance , directed by John Blystone and starring Warner Oland (see entry below). According to a news item in LAT on 13 Dec 1928, Raoul Walsh was first announced by Fox as the film's director. Walsh, who lost an eye following a car accident in early Oct 1928, was replaced by Irving Cummings. A 5 May 1929 NYT article reported that location shooting took place in Death Valley, CA, near the town of Furnace Creek.
       Behind That Curtain was the first film in Fox's long-running Charlie Chan series, as well as being the first all-dialogue Chan film. For additional information on other films featuring the character, please consult the entry below for the 1931 Fox production Charlie Chan Carries On , directed by Hamilton MacFadden and starring Warner Oland and Marguerite Churchill and search the series name in the Advanced Search.  

Bibliographic Sources:   Date   Page
Chicago Tribune   17 Aug 1929   p. 11.
Los Angeles Times   13 Dec 1928   p. 10.
Los Angeles Times   5 Jul 1929   p. A7.
New York Times   5 May 1929   p. 118.
New York Times   1 Jul 1929   p. 31.
Variety   3 Jul 1929.   

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The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.
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