Movie Review: The Mandarin Mystery (1936)

Synopsis: Josephine Temple travels to the United States so she can sell the rare Chinese Mandarin stamp to Dr. Alexander Kirk for $50,000. However, the stamp is stolen, and she is seen leaving a room containing the murdered thief's body. Fortunately for Josephine, publisher and amateur detective Ellery Queen has become infatuated with her and wants to help.

Who's in it? The movie stars Eddie Quillan, Charlotte HenryRita La RoyWade Boteler and George Irving.

Review: I came across this movie on Paramount Plus some time ago and added it to my list. Since my wife and daughter were at martial arts last night, I decided to take the time to watch it and, overall, I ended up enjoying it.

Even though I have heard of Ellery Queen, I didn't really know a whole lot about the literary character before watching this film and don't know how many liberties the movie took with the source material. However, I thought Quillan did an excellent job in that role, creating a character that was brilliant but also seemingly a bit lazy and hard to take seriously.

I also thought Queen and Josephine (Henry) had great chemistry together. A lot of movies tend to force the whole love interest thing but the connection between those two was believable. I especially loved the scene that had them handcuffed together in the back of a squad car, providing some fun visuals of just how comfortable they were around each other (despite the fact they had just met that morning).

The relationship between Queen and his police inspector dad (Boteler) was also an interesting aspect to the movie. Boteler played his part well, portraying his character as a father who was both proud but sometimes frustrated and/or embarrassed by his son.

The mystery itself was also intriguing. They knew who stole the stamp, but they didn't know who killed the person who stole it or what happened to the stamp afterwards. The fact the murder took place in a room that had one locked entrance (which needed to be locked from the inside) and another entrance that led into a room with other people only added to the mystery because the only person who was seen entering it was Josephine. 

In fact, since Josephine seemed to have a bad habit of being in the wrong place at the wrong time and was behaving very mysteriously at times, it did make it easy to see why she would be the main suspect. Part of me even wondered if Queen's infatuation with her was only a ruse to find evidence against her.

Final Opinion: This was an entertaining movie with a solid mystery and some likable characters. At minimum, it has me interested in reading an Ellery Queen book and that alone makes it worth recommending.

My Grade: A


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