This Charlie Chan Movies Playlist consists of 37 full-length movies from 1929 to 1981. Some of the earliest movies were considered lost but I hope someone actually has them. Warner Oland starred as Charlie Chan in 13 out of 37 movies. Sidney Toler appeared in 19 out of the 37.
I am a sucker for mystery stories, that’s why I found the Charlie Chan movies entertaining. The plots of the movies before 1950 were generally interesting. Production quality is good too. Can’t say the same for the last two movies on this list. They were disastrous.
Charlie Chan is a fictional Chinese detective in Honolulu. Created by Earl Derr Biggers, an American writer. He only wrote 6 novels featuring Charlie Chan.
The popularity of this Chinese detective intrigued me. It is good that non-Chinese actors played him because he isn’t real. As a Chinese, I can’t imagine a Chinese sprouting weird idioms. On the other hand, Charlie Chan’s sons (played by Keye Luke and Victor Sen Yung, both actors of Chinese descent) spoke perfect English.
1929 – Behind that Curtain (Edward L. Park)
Charlie Chan was played by Edward L. Park. His part was minor but was portrayed as an intelligent competent detective. Boris Karloff, who appeared as an Indian servant, received more screen time.
1931 – Charlie Chan Carries On (Warner Oland)
Lost film? Charlie Chan solved the murder of a wealthy American found dead in a London hotel room
1931 – The Black Camel (Warner Oland)
Charlie Chan solved the murder of movie star Shelah Fayne who was in Honolulu to shoot a film. Bela Lugosi played a famous psychic as well as the brother of a murdered victim.
1932 – Charlie Chan’s Chance (Warner Oland)
Lost film? Charlie Chan narrowly escape death by chance. To find his would-be-killer, Charlie must outguess both Scotland Yard and New York City Police.
1933 – Charlie Chan’s Greatest Case (Warner Oland)
Lost film? Charlie Chan investigated the death of a man named Dan by stabbing in his own home. His first clue comes from the victim’s sister, who noticed a prowler wearing a glow-in-the-dark wristwatch.
1934 – Charlie Chan’s Courage (Warner Oland)
Lost film? Charlie is engaged to transport a pearl necklace to a millionaire at his ranch. When murder intervenes he disguises himself as a Chinese servant and begins sleuthing.
1934 – Charlie Chan in London (Warner Oland)
Paul Gray, a young English man was convicted of the murder of Captain Hamilton of the Royal Air Force and sentenced to hang. His sister Pamela Gray asked Charlie Chan to investigate and find the real murderer.
1935 – Charlie Chan in Paris (Warner Oland)
Some bonds from the Lamartine Bank in Paris had been forged, so they hired Charlie Chan to solve the case.
1935 – Charlie Chan in Egypt (Warner Oland)
An archaeologist disappeared while excavating ancient art treasures in Egypt. Charlie Chan must sort out the stories of the archaeological team, and find the truth behind missing priceless treasures and supernatural events.
1935 – Charlie Chan in Shanghai (Warner Oland)
Charlie Chan arrives in Shanghai to help stop an opium smuggling ring. At a banquet, Sir Stanley Woodland was shot and killed by a gun inside a booby-trapped box. Charlie Chan must find out who is the ring leader of the opium smuggling ring and the murderer of Sir Stanley Woodland.
1936 – Charlie Chan’s Secret (Warner Oland)
Alan Colby, heir to a vast fortune, reappears after a seven-year absence, only to be murdered before he can claim his inheritance. Charlie Chan was called to investigate the murder, finding the murderer among the myriad of suspects.
1936 – Charlie Chan at the Circus (Warner Oland)
Joe Kinney, a circus owner, asked Charlie Chan to find who was sending him threatening letters. He was later killed by a gorilla. Or was he? There were quite a bit of inconsistencies in the plot.
1936 – Charlie Chan at the Race Track (Warner Oland)
A prominent racehorse owner was found dead next to his prized racehorse. It seems logical that the horse has accidentally kicked his owner to death. But Charlie Chan found evidence of foul play.
1936 – Charlie Chan at the Opera (Warner Oland)
Members of an opera company were being murdered one by one. An insane ex-member, who had escaped from the asylum, was the logical suspect. Charlie Chan followed the few clues he found to uncover the truth. Boris Karloff starred as Gravelle, the insane opera star.
1937 – Charlie Chan at the Olympics (Warner Oland)
An aircraft remote radio control device was stolen during a routine demonstration. Charlie Chan and company traced the device from Honolulu to Berlin. Navigating through false leads and lies, Chan discovered the truth and recovered the device.
1937 – Charlie Chan on Broadway (Warner Oland)
A material witness to a political scandal was murdered after hiding her diary in Charlie Chan’s luggage. Another person was murdered in Chan’s hotel room. Charlie Chan puts the few scattered clues together and sets a trap for the murderer.
1937 – Charlie Chan at Monte Carlo (Warner Oland)
Charlie and Lee Chan were in Monaco for an art exhibition when they stumbled upon a murdered man in a car. The dead man was a bank messenger carrying S$1 million dollars worth of bonds belonging to an American financier. The bonds were missing. Who was the robber and murderer?
1939 – Charlie Chan in Honolulu (Sidney Toler)
Charlie Chan investigated a murder on board a freighter called Susan B. Jennings bound for Honolulu from Shanghai. The only witness is the secretary Judy Haynes.
1939 – Charlie Chan in Reno (Sidney Toler)
Charlie Chan was asked by the estranged husband of a murder suspect, convinced of his wife’s innocence, to investigate and solve the murder.
1939 – Charlie Chan at Treasure Island (Sidney Toler)
Charlie Chan uncovered the identity of a blackmailer known as Dr Zodiac. This movie is full of unexplained mind-reading and hocus-pocus. Trying too hard.
1939 – City in Darkness (Sidney Toler)
A well-known millionnaire called Petroff was murdered in his own home in Paris amidst the threat of impending war between France and Germany. Suspects include the butler, the business partner, the spy, the counterfeiter, and the burglars.
1940 – Charlie Chan in Panama (Sidney Toler)
A spy is planning to sabotage the Panama Canal to stop a US Navy fleet from deploying to the Pacific. Charlie Chan sets a trap to flush out the unexpected spy.
1940 – Charlie Chan’s Murder Cruise (Sidney Toler)
A male passenger was murdered on a cruise ship sailing across the Pacific Ocean. He was apparently not the intended victim because he had swapped rooms with another passenger. Who was trying to kill who? And why?
1940 – Charlie Chan at the Wax Museum (Sidney Toler)
McBirney, a convicted murderer escaped from prison to seek revenge against Charlie Chan. With help from a crooked surgeon, he lured Charlie Chan to a wax museum.
1940 – Murder Over New York (Sidney Toler)
Charlie Chan investigated the murder of an old Scotland Yard friend, Hugh Drake by poisonous gas in locked room. The assumed culprit is the leader of a sabotage ring known as Paul Narvo. Charlie set up 2 traps to uncover the hidden murderer.
1941 – Dead Men Tell (Sidney Toler)
Charlie Chan was engaged by an elderly heiress to uncover the thief who tried to steal her treasure map. After the attempt, she split the map into 4 pieces and gave 3 pieces to some of the passengers on a voyage she had been planning to Cocos Island, where the treasure is. Before she could tell Charlie Chan who these 3 people were, she died of fright. Charlie Chan must clear up the mystery and uncover the thief-cum-murderer.
1941 – Charlie Chan in Rio (Sidney Toler)
This story is similar to the 1931 The Black Camel. The differences were  location: Honolulu to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil,  Charlie Chan: Oland to Toler,  presence of a second killer.
1942 – Castle in the Desert (Sidney Toler)
A man was poisoned to death in a castle in the Mojave Desert. Suspects include the Manderleys, lawyer Hartford, astrologer Madame Saturnia, and sculptor Watson King.
1944 – Charlie Chan in the Secret Service (Sidney Toler)
Charlie Chan investigated the murder of the inventor of a highly advanced torpedo.
1944 – The Chinese Cat (Sidney Toler)
A diamond smuggling ring member, Manning, double-crossed the ring and was murdered. The murder occurred in a lock room. Charlie Chan solved the lock room murder mystery, uncovered the hidden diamond, and rounded up the diamond-struggling ring.
1944 – Black Magic (Sidney Toler)
A man was murdered in the middle of a seance with 8 other people. Charlie Chan solved the case by reenacting the seance.
1945 – The Jade Mask (Sidney Toler)
An eccentric scientist was murdered in a spooky mansion. He was murdered for a formula that government wanted.
1945 – The Scarlet Clue (Sidney Toler)
Charlie and Tommy Chan investigated a murder at a radio station.
1945 – The Shanghai Cobra (Sidney Toler)
Three bank employees were killed with cobra venom. Charlie Chan recalled a similar case 10 years earlier in Shanghai. Could it be the same killer?
1946 – The Red Dragon (Sidney Toler)
Not available yet. Charlie Chan investigated the theft of a atomic bomb formula and a series of murders that used bullets that are not fired from a gun.
1946 – Dangerous Money (Sidney Toler)
Pearson, a US Treasury agent investigating counterfeit dollars and stolen art, was killed with a knife in his back. Charlie Chan sets out to find his murderer.
1946 – Dark Alibi (Sidney Toler)
An ex-con falsely accused of bank robbery and murder was scheduled for execution in 9 days. Convinced of his innocence, his public defender appealed to Charlie Chan to investigate the case.
1946 – Shadows Over Chinatown (Sidney Toler)
Not available yet. Charlie Chan investigated murders connected with insurance fraud in San Francisco’s Chinatown.
1946 – The Trap (Sidney Toler)
2 showgirls from a troupe vacationing at a Malibu Beach resort were garroted. Charlie Chan investigated and uncovered the murderer amongst them.
1947 – The Chinese Ring (Roland Winters)
A Chinese princess, who came to the US to buy fighter planes for her people, was murdered by a poison dart fired by an air rifle in Charlie Chan’s living room. The motive was the large sum of money she had with her.
1948 – Docks of New Orleans (Roland Winters)
Not available yet. 2 partners in the LaFontaine Chemical Company were found murdered after they signed a legal agreement leaving their share to the surviving third partner.
1948 – Shanghai Chest (Roland Winters)
Not available yet. 3 murders were linked by a dead man’s fingerprints. How were they connected?
1948 – The Golden Eye (Roland Winters)
A low yielding gold mine suddenly started to become profitable. Attempts on the owner’s life started. Charlie Chan investigated the connection between the 2 and uncovered a conspiracy.
1948 – The Feathered Serpent (Roland Winters)
Not available yet. Charlie Chan and his two eldest sons helped an archaeologist forced by a dangerous gang to search for a treasure in Mexico.
1949 – Sky Dragon (Roland Winters)
Not available yet. On a plane trip, Charlie Chan and the passengers are drugged, when they woke up, they discovered that a quarter-million dollars is missing.
1973 – The Return of Charlie Chan (Ross Martin)
Also known as Happiness is a Warm Clue. Charlie Chan investigates a murder case aboard the yacht of a wealthy Greek shipping tycoon. The casting is totally off. Ross Martin doesn’t even try to look or sound Chinese. Leslie Nielsen is totally unconvincing as the Greek tycoon.
1981 – Charlie Chan and the Curse of the Dragon Queen (Peter Ustinov)
Charlie Chan was asked to help the San Francisco police with a series of murders. This time his sidekick is his grandson. This movie is more comedy than mystery and crime. Starring some big names like Peter Ustinov, Michelle Pfeiffer, Roddy McDowall, and Angie Dickinson.