AFI Catalog of Feature Films
Movie Detail
Name Occurs Before Title Offscreen Credit Print Viewed By AFI
Charlie Chan in Panama
Director: Norman Foster (Dir)
Release Date:   1 Mar 1940
Premiere Information:   New York opening: week of 23 Feb 1940
Production Date:   began early Oct 1939
Duration (in mins):   67
Duration (in reels):   6,061
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Cast:   Sidney Toler (Charlie Chan [also knwon as Fu Yuen])  
    Jean Rogers (Kathi Lenesch)  
    Lionel Atwill (Clivedon Compton)  
    Mary Nash (Miss Jennie Finch)  
    Sen Yung (Jimmy Chan)  
    Kane Richmond (Richard Cabot)  
    Chris-Pin Martin (Sergeant Montero)  
    Lionel Royce (Dr. Rudolph Grosser)  
    Helen Ericson (Stewardess)  
    Jack La Rue (Manolo)  
    Edwin Stanley (Governor Webster)  
    Don Douglas (Captain Lewis)  
    Frank Puglia (Achmed Halide)  
    Addison Richards (Godley)  
    Edward Keane (Dr. Fredericks)  
    Charles Stevens (Native fisherman)  
    Max Wagner (Soldier)  
    Alan Davis (Soldier)  
    Charles Sherlock (Enlisted man)  
    Eddie Acuff (Sailor)  
    Harold Goodwin (Military police)  
    Gloria Roy (Hostess)  
    Lane Chandler (Officer)  
    Edward Gargan (Attendant)  
    Philip Morris (Plainclothesman)  
    Albert Morin (Hotel clerk)  
    Jimmy Aubrey    

Summary: As the U.S. fleet prepares to navigate the waters of the Panama Canal, Panama City becomes rife with spies. A new group of suspects appears with the arrival of a sea plane bound for Balboa. Among the suspects are novelist Clivedon Compton, matronly school teacher Miss Jennie Finch, sinister scientist Dr. Rudolph Grosser, cafĂ© proprietor Manolo, singer Kathi Lenesch, cigarette salesman Achmed Halide, government engineer Richard Cabot and government agent Godley. Upon landing, Godley goes to a hat shop owned by Fu Yuen, alias Charlie Chan, to enlist the sleuth's help in unmasking the deadly spy known only as Reiner. Just as Godley is about to divulge Reiner's real identity, he falls to the ground, dead, leaving Chan to expose Reiner before the spy can sabotage the canal. As the other suspects are murdered, one by one, first Compton, then Manolo, Chan learns that the canal's Miraflores locks are to be blown up at ten that night. Chan then sequesters the suspects at the plant, forcing Miss Finch to expose herself as Reiner in order to escape death. With Reiner under arrest, the fleet sails safely through the locks to protect democracy. 

Production Company: Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp.  
Distribution Company: Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp.  
Director: Norman Foster (Dir)
  Saul Wurtzel (Asst dir)
Producer: Sol M. Wurtzel (Exec prod)
Writer: John Larkin (Orig scr)
  Lester Ziffren (Orig scr)
Photography: Virgil Miller (Photog)
Art Direction: Richard Day (Art dir)
  Chester Gore (Art dir)
Film Editor: Fred Allen (Film ed)
Set Decoration: Thomas Little (Set dec)
Costumes: Helen A. Myron (Cost)
Music: Samuel Kaylin (Mus dir)
Sound: Joseph E. Aiken (Sd)
  William H. Anderson (Sd)
Country: United States
Series: Charlie Chan

Source Text: Based on the character "Charlie Chan" created by Earl Derr Biggers.
Authors: Earl Derr Biggers

Copyright Claimant Copyright Date Copyright Number
Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp. 8/3/1940 dd/mm/yyyy LP9651

PCA NO: 5892
Physical Properties: b&w:
  Sd: RCA High Fidelity Recording

Genre: Drama
Sub-Genre: Detective
Subjects (Major): Chinese Americans
  Impersonation and imposture
Subjects (Minor): Cabarets
  Cabaret performers
  Fathers and sons
  Millinery shops
  Panama Canal (Panama)

Note: The viewed print was missing the film's opening credits. For additional information on the series, consult the Series Index and see above entry for Charlie Chan Carries On

Bibliographic Sources:   Date   Page
Daily Variety   1 Feb 40   p. 3.
Film Daily   27 Feb 40   p. 7.
Hollywood Reporter   28 Oct 38   pp. 5-6.
Hollywood Reporter   3 Feb 40   p. 3.
Motion Picture Daily   7 Feb 40   p. 8.
Motion Picture Herald   25 Nov 39   p. 35.
Motion Picture Herald   10 Feb 40   p. 38.
New York Times   23 Feb 40   p. 19.
Variety   21 Feb 40   p. 12.

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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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