Billie Bronson secretes a package in the trunk of Charlie Chan aboard a New York-bound transatlantic liner. Chan and his number one son, Lee are met at the pier by Inspector Nelson and two rival reporters, Joan Wendall and Speed Patton. Bille, having left the country hurriedly a year ago when sought as a material witness in a political scandal, has returned to "blow the lid off the town." She follows the Chans to their hotel and attempts to regain her package from the trunk, only to be interrupted by Lee. She then goes to the "Hottentot Club", where "candid-camera night" is in full progress, followed by Lee. Already present are Joan and Speed. Billie is mysteriously murdered and Charlie is summoned from a police banquet in his honor. Present in the room with the body are club manager Johnny Burke; club dancer and Burke's girl-friend Marie Collins and the two reporters. While seeking a motive for the murder, a second killing is discovered in Charlie's hotel room, the package is missing... Written by
Les Adams <email@example.com>
Charlie (Warner Oland) and Number One Son (Keye Luke) investigate a murder at NYC's Hottentot Club. It's a standard whodunit, with half a dozen or so suspects.
The problem with this film is that the story is rather slight. The film's runtime is only 68 minutes. And yet, most of the film's first half is filled with plot points that relate only in a peripheral way to the murder. There's the business about Charlie getting seasick aboard a ship. Later, Charlie and his son chop logic over a missing button. At the Hottentot, quite a bit of time is spent on a floor show consisting of a chorus line and a girl who engages in a lengthy dance. The murder investigation doesn't even begin until halfway into the film.
The murder plot itself is only mildly interesting, and relates more to city mobsters than to anything having to do with "Broadway". Production design, however, is quite good, at least by Charlie Chan standards. The script is rather heavy on dialogue. And we have the usual Charlie Chan aphorisms.
The identity of the murderer is not hard to figure out, owing to poor film direction. Some of Charlie's logic about who the murderer is, is not consistent with the film's plot. And there's very little suspense in this film.
Except for the production design, especially at the Hottentot, I found this particular Charlie Chan mystery to be disappointing. The main weakness lies in a meager script that needed more character development and a larger, more complex story.
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