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The Chinese Ring (1947)



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One of the most muddled and incomprehensible Charlie Chan mysteries, The Chinese Ring had me aching for the Warner Oland days, when the series had a budget and writers and actors and things. This film rehashes elements from those better films, extracts whatever made them work in the first place, and slaps the result up on the screen. Consider the initial murder, for example. The murdered woman is obviously killed by a mysterious unseen person out the window, but before she dies she obviously manages to write part of a name on a piece of paper: "Captain K." Gee, I wonder what the chances are that this film's tiny cast of characters will include more than one Captain K? Never mind -- the point is that every little detail in what I have just described, plus so many more I've left out as an act of mercy, has been done before. Not quite so incompetently, perhaps, but before, before, and before.

I just have no idea what these characters are doing here as they roam around from place to place finding what they call clues and penetrating what they call disguises and foiling what they call plots. None of it makes a lick of sense.

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