Chan’s interminable saga gets a shot in the arm which effectively dispels any monotony. It is the creation of a co-feature role, with Boris Karloff to play it.
Being set in an opera house, the action [story by Bess Meredyth, based on the Earl Derr Biggers character] is more complicated than in previous Chan stories and serves as an additional befuddlement for the tyro sleuths in the audience. Backstage nooks and crannies furthermore provide the proper spook atmosphere for Karloff to flit around in. As a cross between a madman and an amnesia victim, Karloff plays a role right down his alley. And 20th doesn’t let the audience forget who he is. In one place there’s a remark to the effect ‘Who do you think you are, Frankenstein?’
Supporting cast works well, with Margaret Irving as the diva who gets murdered, Nedda Harrigan as the menace, and William Demarest as a dumb cop, drawing the longest footage. [Film’s opera, Carnival, was created by Oscar Levant, from a libretto by William Kernell.]