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||IMDB Rating: 4.8/10 from UNRATED votes
||Release: 30 Jun 1929 /
||Director: Irving Cummings,
||Synopsis: Eve Mannering realizes too late that her abusive husband is a philanderer and murderer and seeks protection with her true love, explorer John Beetham.
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Author Earl Derr Biggers (1884-1933) was among America's most popular
writers of the 1910s and 1920s and many of his works, such as 'Seven
Keys to Baldpate', were translated to stage and screen with great
success. About 1919 Biggers encountered stories about Hawaii's
celebrated Chang Apana (1887-1933), a police officer of Chinese
heritage who was noted for his fearlessness in dealing with criminals
engaged in the opium trade. Apana, who carried a whip as his weapon of
choice, was more noted for courage than detective skills--but he proved
the inspiration for Charlie Chan.
Between 1925 and 1932 Biggers wrote six Chan novels. HOUSE WITHOUT A
KEY and THE Chinese PARROT were filmed as silents in 1926; the first
sound film to feature Chan was BEHIND THAT CURTAIN. But although it is
generally based on the Biggers novel, the film takes a very strange
direction: instead of presenting the mystery novel that Biggers wrote,
it dispenses with mystery and presents the story of a runaway wife as a
melodrama pure and simple, and Chan (played here by E.L. Park) is only
a cameo role tacked on at the film's finish.
The cast sports several notable actors of the era, most particularly
Warner Baxter, who had a distinguished career, and it offers an early
and very brief role to Boris Karloff in his pre-FRANKENSTEIN era. But
the cast struggles a great deal with the new technology of sound and
they read as stiff and mannered. The direction and cinematography are
only serviceable, and even for an early sound film BEHIND THAT CURTAIN
feels extremely slow and heavy-handed.
BEHIND THAT CURTAIN is not presently available to the home market in
the form of a studio release, nor is it likely to be so at any time in
the near future. Although it is generally credited as "The First
Sound-Era Charlie Chan Film," it is not really a part of the series
that would become so popular between 1931 and 1942. Hardcore Chan fans
will want to see the film at least once, but once will be more than
Gary F. Taylor, aka GFT, Amazon Reviewer
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