"Free ticket to circus like gold ring on merry-go-round.
Make enjoyment double. "
Opening March 27, 1936, Charlie Chan at the Circus was the 11th motion picture in this hateful series of flicks based on the books of Earl Derr Biggers. Biggers was born and raised in Warren, Ohio, and was inducted into the Warren City Schools Distinguished Alumni Hall of Fame.
Chinese-American Yunte Huang has written a new book (Charlie Chan: The Untold Story of the Honorable Detective and His Rendezvous With American History) about the character, one which is more sympathetic to the figure than popular history would support.
It is disturbing to learn that Swedish actor and "heavy drinker" Warner Oland, who is most closely associated with the role of Charlie Chan, liked to tie on one prior to performances of Charlie Chan, he claimed, to mess up his speech and put a stupid smile on his face in order to better play an Oriental. Because, you know, he would never drink before or during any of his other performances.
In this film, Chan takes his wife and twelve children (Get it? Because the Chinese used to bear an obscene amount of children?) attend a circus where the owner fears for his life from the workers in his employ. Soon enough, the circus owner is slain by a gorilla, but you know it's just a guy in a gorilla suit and Chan needs seventy minutes to prove it.
The New York Times
Charlie Chan: The Untold Story of the Honorable Detective and His Rendezvous With American History