Sidney Toler was an American actor, playwright and theatre director who was a highly regarded comic actor on Broadway. He took over the role of Charlie Chan in 1939 from Warner Oland and retained the character’s trademark good humour, weird idiom spouting habit, and Asian politeness.
Charlie Chan is a fictional detective created by Earl Derr Biggers in a series of mystery novels. Although there were only 6 novels, it inspired a total of 47 mystery movies spanning from 1929 to 1981.
The Sidney Toler Charlie Chan Playlist:
1. Charlie Chan in Honolulu (1939)
Charlie Chan investigated a murder onboard a freighter called Susan B. Jennings bound for Honolulu from Shanghai. The only witness is the secretary Judy Haynes.
2. Charlie Chan in Reno (1939)
Charlie Chan was asked by the estranged husband of a murder suspect, convinced of his wife’s innocence, to investigate and solve the murder.
3. Charlie Chan at Treasure Island (1939)
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.
4. City in Darkness (1939)
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.
5. Charlie Chan in Panama (1940)
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.
6. Charlie Chan’s Murder Cruise (1940)
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?
7. Charlie Chan at the Wax Museum (1940)
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.
8. Murder Over New York (1940)
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.
9. Dead Men Tell (1941)
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.
10. Charlie Chan in Rio (1941)
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.
11. Castle in the Desert (1942)
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.
12. Charlie Chan in the Secret Service (1944)
Charlie Chan investigated the murder of the inventor of a highly advanced torpedo.
13. The Chinese Cat (1944)
A diamond smuggling ring member, Manning, double-crossed the ring and was murdered. The murder occurred in a locked room. Charlie Chan solved the locked room murder mystery, uncovered the hidden diamond, and rounded up the diamond-struggling ring.
14. Black Magic (1944)
A man was murdered in the middle of a seance with 8 other people. Charlie Chan solved the case by reenacting the seance.
15. The Jade Mask (1945)
An eccentric scientist was murdered in a spooky mansion. He was murdered for a formula that government wanted.
16. The Scarlet Clue (1945)
Charlie and Tommy Chan investigated a murder at a radio station.
17. The Shanghai Cobra (1945)
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?
18. Dangerous Money (1946)
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.
19. Dark Alibi (1946)
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.
20. The Trap (1946)
2 showgirls from a troupe vacationing at a Malibu Beach resort were garroted. Charlie Chan investigated and uncovered the murderer amongst them.
- The Red Dragon (Sidney Toler 1946) – 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.
- Shadows Over Chinatown (Sidney Toler 1946) – Charlie Chan investigated murders connected with insurance fraud in San Francisco’s
Who is your favourite Charlie Chan? Warner Oland or Sidney Toler?