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Charlie Chan at the Wax Museum

Sidney Toler , Victor Sen Yung , Lynn Shores    Unrated   VHS Tape
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)

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Most helpful customer reviews
By Donald Mitchell #1 HALL OF FAME TOP 50 REVIEWER
Format:VHS Tape
Charlie Chan at the Wax Museum is the most successful of the Sidney Toler films featuring Honolulu's most famous fictional detective. Although it's certainly not a big-budget extravaganza, the script, direction, and acting take good advantage of a constantly surprising location on a stormy night for murder.

Many will compare Charlie Chan at the Wax Museum to the Warner Oland film, Charlie Chan's Secret. Clearly, Wax Museum is an attempt at exploring the same formula in a different way. For my money, Wax Museum is the better film.

As the film opens, Steve McBirney is sentenced to prison in part on Charlie Chan's testimony. McBirney threatens Chan who shows no loss of composure. But as McBirney is being taken off to prison, he makes an escape and finds his way to the wax museum where the doctor and his assistant use plastic surgery to disguise fugitives.

To Charlie's surprise, the doctor makes a strong bid for Charlie to talk about an old case (Joe Rocke's conviction that Charlie thinks was a mistake) on the radio at the wax museum that night by approaching number two son, Jimmy. Charlie already suspects the doctor is helping criminals and agrees to go in order to see what he can observe.

McBirney has a dastardly plan in mind for Charlie. Will Charlie survive?

At the wax museum, things are seldom as they seem. The mix-ups add to the mystery and the humor with Charlie's law student son as the fall guy for many of the jokes. There's also an element of satire as the script puts in some pretty unexpected twists and turns (including a rare poison).

Before 64 suspenseful minutes end, you'll have a new respect for what can be done with a noir film to add humor and dark mysteries.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Killed By A Poison Dart Aug. 26 2002
Format:VHS Tape
Another pre-WWII film by 20th Century-Fox. Charlie is giving a weekly Crime League radio broadcast at the museum when an escaped convict seeks revenge on him for helping to put him in prison. One of Charlie's panelists is mistakenly killed by a poison dart intended for the great detective.
Sidney Toler plays Chan while Sen Yung is again cast in the role of Jimmy Chan. The screenplay is by John Larkin and the movie's director is Lynn Shores.
CHARLIE CHAN AT THE WAX MUSEUM is one of the best entries in the series.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining entry in the popular series Jan. 16 2002
Format:VHS Tape
Charlie Chan films are frequently accused of pandering to racial stereotypes. There is a certain truth to this, but Charlie Chan and company were neither more nor less stereotypical than such other popular series as the "Blondie" or "Dr. Kildare" series, and--while we may occasionally roll our eyes at a few 1930s sensibilities--its stereotypes are never mean-spirited and Charlie (along with his various sons) is always presented in a positive light.
This particular Chan episode is one of the best of the Sidney Toler vehicles, and unlike most other Chan films actually generates considerable atmosphere with its tale of a killer run wild in a mysterious wax museum, where all is not as it seems. Victor Sen Yung plays "number two son" Jimmy Chan very broadly, and the film is rounded out with a very able and entertaining cast. As with most Chan films, everything is "over the top," but WAX MUSEUM never goes so far over the top that it becomes pure camp; it remains an unpretentious, simple little movie that is quite a lot of fun to watch, and both fans of the series as well as newcomers will enjoy it quite a bit.
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Format:VHS Tape
This is an amalgam of several mystery/horror themes, and that is exactly why it is good. There are the chills of the wax museum setting, the whodunit aspect, the revenge plot of the gangster, some locked-in-an-old-dark-house elements, plus the comedy of #2 Chan (Toler) and his pithy interaction with #2 son. The labyrinthine mystery is eventually solved in fairly conventional fashion, but the movie is a lot of fun.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.5 out of 5 stars  12 reviews
20 of 22 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining entry in the popular series Jan. 16 2002
By Gary F. Taylor - Published on Amazon.com
Format:VHS Tape
Charlie Chan films are frequently accused of pandering to racial stereotypes. There is a certain truth to this, but Charlie Chan and company were neither more nor less stereotypical than such other popular series as the "Blondie" or "Dr. Kildare" series, and--while we may occasionally roll our eyes at a few 1930s sensibilities--its stereotypes are never mean-spirited and Charlie (along with his various sons) is always presented in a positive light.
This particular Chan episode is one of the best of the Sidney Toler vehicles, and unlike most other Chan films actually generates considerable atmosphere with its tale of a killer run wild in a mysterious wax museum, where all is not as it seems. Victor Sen Yung plays "number two son" Jimmy Chan very broadly, and the film is rounded out with a very able and entertaining cast. As with most Chan films, everything is "over the top," but WAX MUSEUM never goes so far over the top that it becomes pure camp; it remains an unpretentious, simple little movie that is quite a lot of fun to watch, and both fans of the series as well as newcomers will enjoy it quite a bit.
14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Person Who Not Like This Movie Need Head Examined. May 7 2001
By Andrew R. Oerman - Published on Amazon.com
Format:VHS Tape
This is an amalgam of several mystery/horror themes, and that is exactly why it is good. There are the chills of the wax museum setting, the whodunit aspect, the revenge plot of the gangster, some locked-in-an-old-dark-house elements, plus the comedy of #2 Chan (Toler) and his pithy interaction with #2 son. The labyrinthine mystery is eventually solved in fairly conventional fashion, but the movie is a lot of fun.
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Killed By A Poison Dart Aug. 26 2002
By Peter Kenney - Published on Amazon.com
Format:VHS Tape
Another pre-WWII film by 20th Century-Fox. Charlie is giving a weekly Crime League radio broadcast at the museum when an escaped convict seeks revenge on him for helping to put him in prison. One of Charlie's panelists is mistakenly killed by a poison dart intended for the great detective.
Sidney Toler plays Chan while Sen Yung is again cast in the role of Jimmy Chan. The screenplay is by John Larkin and the movie's director is Lynn Shores.
CHARLIE CHAN AT THE WAX MUSEUM is one of the best entries in the series.
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fun and Atmospheric Charlie Chan Film March 1 2006
By Bobby Underwood - Published on Amazon.com
Format:VHS Tape
This terrific entry in the Charlie Chan series stars Sidney Toler as the intrepid sleuth from Honolulu. One of the most atmospheric of the original entries, this one is centered around a live radio broadcast from the Museum of Crime, where notorious criminals have been immortalized in wax. Chan's second son, Jimmy (Sen Yung), is on hand to "help" pop solve an old crime and avoid becoming a victim himself.

Young Jimmy accepts the challenge for his pop to appear on the Crime League's weekly broadcast to clear the name of Joe Rocke, a man Chan has long believed was unfairly executed for a crime he did not commit. Our favorite Oriental detective will be pitted against the scientific detective who proved Rocke was guilty. It is Chan's suspicion that the wax museum and his invitation are tied to the recent escape of a man he helped convict of murder, however, which prompts him to accept. Chan arrives for the live broadcast on a rainy night, Jimmy close behind despite his pop's admonition not to cut class, and the creepy fun begins.

A botched attempt to electrocute Charlie, and the murder of his scientific rival by poison blow dart, not to mention a wax Charlie Chan, all add up to mystery fun for Charlie Chan fans. The Chan entries always had a good cast and this one is no exception. Marguerite Chapman as the young radio reporter hoping this night will be a great story and Joan Valerie as the pretty but slightly shady, Lily, assistant to the very shady director of the museum, stand out. A good screenplay from John Larkin and some tight direction from Lynn Shores give this one some zip.

The real treat, as always, is watching Chan solve the case while trying to keep his young and excitable son from ruining everything. Chan fans will like this one a lot. It's a real kick in the pants!
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars CHAN-TASTIC Sept. 29 2005
By C. M. Kimball - Published on Amazon.com
Format:VHS Tape
For some of us, Sidney Toler was the ultimate Charlie Chan, and THE WAX MUSEUM (if you were to buy only one) the quintessential Charlie Chan movie.

Shot in black and white almost entirely "at night," Wax Museum is simply a cinematic masterpiece. This is how a b&w mystery thriller should be shot. Being able to go to school on the lighting effects alone is worth the price of the tape. It is a classic study of light and shadow.

In addition, the cast is wonderful, superbly balanced, and the story thoroughly engaging. Along with JADE MASK, a Must Have.
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