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Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Charlie Chan And The Curse Of The Dragon Queen (1981)

When a series of bizarre murders occur in San Francisco, the famed Chinese detective Charlie Chan (Peter Ustinov) is called in to help solve the case. By coincidence, his half Jewish/half Chinese grandson (Richard Hatch, he puts soy sauce on his lox and bagel), eager to follow in his grandfather's footsteps, is a San Francisco resident and joins forces with his grandfather in helping to track down the killer. The main suspect is Chan's old nemesis, the Dragon Queen (Angie Dickinson) just released from prison and seeking revenge on Chan.  Directed by Clive Donner (WHAT'S NEW PUSSYCAT?), this is a rather silly hit or miss frantic comedy. Some of it works like Roddy McDowall's insolent butler in a wheelchair or Lee Grant's widow obsessed with her husband's urn but there's a lot of slapstick stuff that falls flat. Principally, the klutzy Hatch and his fiancee (Michelle Pfeiffer) who are constantly tripping and falling. This was one of Pfeiffer's first movies and she already shows the charm and presence that would soon turn her into one of the major actresses of the 1980s. Paul Lohmann's (NASHVILLE) location photography shows San Francisco at her best. Also in the cast: Rachel Roberts, Brian Keith and Johnny Sekka.

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