Charlie Chan at the Opera is considered by many to be the best Warner Oland Charlie Chan film, debuting in 1937, probably due to the co-acting of Boris Karloff. This is the 13th film starring Oland as Chan and produced by Fox in 1936.
Charlie Chan gets to watch a performance that's to die for. For seven years, opera star Gravelle has been locked in an insane asylum, his identity a mystery - even to himself. But when his memory unexpectedly returns, he begins to recall that his wife and her lover tried to murder him - and now he's determined to make them face the music. Gravelle escapes from the asylum and makes his way to the San Marco opera house and begins hiding out in the various rooms and passageways. Soon, members of the opera company are being murdered one by one.
Chan soon investigates the killings and despite the presence of Gravelle, there are other suspects who may be the real killer. They suspects, excluding Gravelle, include Lilli Rochelle, the opera company's prima donna who has been having a secret affair with Enrico Barelli, the baritone; Mr. Whitely, Madame Rochelle's husband who has warned Barelli to stay away from his wife; Anita Barelli, the opera company's number two soprano who has learned of her husband's affair with Lilli Rochelle; and Phil Childers, the fiancée of Lilli's unacknowledged daughter who has been refused permission to marry the daughter.
Clues found by Chan to apprehend the killer include a torn newspaper, a charred note, a heel mark on a newspaper picture, and a bloodstained belt. Among the questions asked are who has been threatening Lilli Rochelle's life, the mystery man in Barelli's dressing room before he is murdered, and why does Chan insist that the opera be formed twice in one evening?
- Warner Oland as Charlie Chan
- Boris Karloff as Gravelle
- Keye Luke as Lee Chan
- Charlotte Henry as Mlle. Kitty
- William Demarest as Sergeant Kelly
- Guy Usher as Inspector Regan
- Margaret Irving as Lilli Rochelle
- Gregory Gaye as Enrico Borelli
- Nedda Harrigan as Anita Borelli
- Frank Conroy as Mr. Whitely