Wednesday, August 5, 2009

The Scarlet Clue (1945)

Ah, America in the 40's. No racial tension to worry about. Charlie Chan is played by a fat white guy in crappy makeup and black chauffeurs are easily spooked. Times were simple then.

It is easy to look at films like these and point in offense, but it does illustrate how far we have come. Besides, Mantan Moreland was funny. He did two "indefinite talk" routines where he and another character cut each other off mid sentence over and over. If you get past the demeaning "jittery negro" shtick, you have to laugh.

But I'm a white dude, so I'm in no position to be offended.

The story is a mystery, of course. There is a plot to steal secret radar plans (WWII, don't forget). The death of a potential witness is linked to a radio and TV studio that operates on the same floor of the same building. Huh? No, that makes sense. Want to run a TV studio, just grab a couple offices next to a military research laboratory.

There's little mystery in this mystery. Not sure who the bad guy is? Wait a bit and he'll be revealed. The only real mystery is the identity Mr. Big, but since there are no clues presented to lead us to their identity, the guessing game is rather pointless.

Still, it was fun. Moreland and Chan's number three son (played by Benson Fong, an actual Chinese actor!) worked great together. And at 65 minutes, it wasn't a second too long. True to Library DVD form, I got three minutes from the end of the film and it skipped to the end. Some light cleaning allowed me to watch the final chapter uninterrupted.

By the way, the title refers to blood. Someone bleeds, and it's a clue. And you thought it was about a board game, did you? AMRU 3.

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