Sidney Toler in The Trap (1946)

    The Trap (1946) is the last Charlie Chan film starring Sidney Toler as Inspector Chan.  The eleventh of eleven Charlie Chan films that Toler made for Monogram Pictures, it marks the return of Victor Sen Yung as “No. 2 Son Jimmy”.  Toler was deathly ill during the filming, so Jimmy and Birmingham Brown, played by Mantan Moreland, handle most of the action in the film.  Sidney Toler moves noticeably slower in this film.

     The film begins with a Police Sergeant pulling over a speeding vehicle.  The vehicle contains a traveling performing group, who is vacationing at the beach.  The sergeant releases the car with a warning.  The troupe travels to the rental home where they will be staying.  Shortly after arriving, one of the troupe is murdered.  While the group deals with the first death, the unpopular fiance’ of the groups leader, the maestro, is also found murdered.

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Sidney Toler as Charlie Chan from the Public Domain

     San Toy, a member of the group, calls for”the greatest detective in the world”, Jimmy Chan.  Birmingham gets the message confused and tells Inspector Chan that Jimmy has been killed.  Jimmy, who is out of the house at the time, is fine and leaves to meet up with them when he returns home.  A relieved Inspector Chan discovers that Jimmy has not been hurt but determines to discover who is killing members of the troupe.

     The film runs approximately 68 minutes.  It is available in the public domain.  It can be viewed by clicking here.  Besides the suspenseful investigation, Victor Sen Yung and Mantan Moreland provide the usual comic relief.  They also provided most of the action.

     The 74-year old Toler was barely able to complete filming.  He died of cancer in February 1947.  Roland Winter would take over for nine more films with Monogram but these films would never touch the popularity of Toler’s films.

    If you make me choose between Warner Oland and Sidney Toler, I would probably pick Sidney Toler as my favority film Inspector Charlie Chan.  The Warner Oland films had better production values and more known starts.  I like Sidney Toler’s performance and his chemistry with Victor Sen Yung over the Oland films but just barely.  Roland Winter’s Charlie Chan is a very distant third.

     What do you think?  Who is your favorite Charlie Chan?  You can leave a comment or ask a question about this or any post on my Facebook pageTwitter profile and Google+ page.

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