IMDb > Dead Men Tell (1941)

Dead Men Tell (1941) More at IMDbPro »


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Up 140% in popularity this week. See why on IMDbPro.
John Francis Larkin (original screenplay)
Earl Derr Biggers (based on the character created by)
View company contact information for Dead Men Tell on IMDbPro.
Release Date:
28 March 1941 (USA) See more »
Aboard a treasure ship Chan battles his most elusive adversary... the ghost of a pirate 100 years dead! See more »
A treasure map in four pieces, the ghost of a hanged pirate, a talking parrot, and a ship full of red herrings complicate Charlie's search for a murderer on board a docked ship. Full summary » | Add synopsis »
User Reviews:
Atmospheric murder mystery aboard sinister ship in dimly lit harbor See more (17 total) »


  (in credits order) (verified as complete)

Sidney Toler ... Charlie Chan
Sheila Ryan ... Kate Ransome
Robert Weldon ... Steve Daniels
Victor Sen Yung ... Jimmy Chan (as Sen Yung)

Donald Douglas ... Jed Thomasson (as Don Douglas)

Kay Aldridge ... Laura Thursday (as Katharine Aldridge)
Paul McGrath ... Mr. Parks

George Reeves ... Bill Lydig
Truman Bradley ... Capt. Kane

Ethel Griffies ... Miss Patience Nodbury
Lenita Lane ... Dr. Anne Bonney
Milton Parsons ... Gene LaFarge
rest of cast listed alphabetically:

Stanley Andrews ... Inspector Vesey (uncredited)
Jimmy Aubrey ... English Sailor (uncredited)
Ralph Dunn ... Homicide Desk Sergeant (uncredited)

Pat Flaherty ... Policeman with Checklist (uncredited)
Lee Tung Foo ... Wu Mei (uncredited)
Oscar 'Dutch' Hendrian ... Saloon Customer (uncredited)
Paul Kruger ... Sailor in Saloon (uncredited)
Lee Phelps ... Detective (uncredited)
Tim Ryan ... Red Eye Bartender (uncredited)
Brick Sullivan ... Police Sergeant (uncredited)
Charles Tannen ... Sailor with Girl (uncredited)
John Wallace ... Peg Leg (uncredited)

Directed by
Harry Lachman 
Writing credits
John Francis Larkin (original screenplay) (as John Larkin)

Earl Derr Biggers (based on the character created by)

Produced by
Ralph Dietrich .... producer
Walter Morosco .... producer
Original Music by
David Raksin (uncredited)
Cinematography by
Charles G. Clarke 
Film Editing by
Harry Reynolds 
Art Direction by
Lewis H. Creber  (as Lewis Creber)
Richard Day 
Set Decoration by
Thomas Little 
Costume Design by
Herschel McCoy  (as Herschel)
Sound Department
Alfred Bruzlin .... sound
Harry M. Leonard .... sound
Music Department
Emil Newman .... musical director
Alfred Newman .... composer: stock music (uncredited)
Herbert W. Spencer .... composer: stock music (uncredited)

Production CompaniesDistributorsOther Companies

Additional Details

Also Known As:
"Charlie Chan in Dead Men Tell" - USA (informal alternative title)
See more »
61 min
Aspect Ratio:
1.37 : 1 See more »
Sound Mix:
Mono (RCA Sound System)
USA:Approved | USA:Passed (National Board of Review)

Did You Know?

The twenty-eighth of forty-seven Charlie Chan movies.See more »
Continuity: When Charlie is down below inspecting the hold for clues, the parrot disturbs him. The next scene shown at a slight upward angle, shows the open hatch and a view of the daylight sky, you can see one of the ships masts. Through out the movie the action takes place at night.See more »
Jimmy Chan:Hey, Pop, you're not gonna swallow that story, are you?
Charlie Chan:Swallow much, but digest little,
See more »
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2 out of 3 people found the following review useful.
Atmospheric murder mystery aboard sinister ship in dimly lit harbor, 26 September 2012
Author: csteidler from Minnesota

A "treasure hunt cruise" is all lined up—but the ship never leaves the dock in this mystery featuring a pirate ghost, a treasure map, a couple of murders, and the usual lineup of suspicious characters.

Jimmy Chan helps get the action started by sneaking aboard the darkened ship to investigate, his imagination fired by news about the expedition to retrieve $60 million of hidden treasure. Pop Charlie Chan comes looking for Jimmy, intending to take him home—which is how both Chans happen to be on the ship when the first murder occurs.

Sidney Toler is fine as always as the elder Chan; Sen Yung has a larger role than usual as Jimmy, and gives an energetic—practically manic—performance as the would-be detective whose curiosity is matched only by his enthusiasm. Toler and Yung, by now veterans of several films in these roles, complement each other perfectly.

The plot concerns an alleged treasure map, divided into four pieces and distributed among the would-be passengers. When the map's owner (and tour sponsor) is murdered and her map portion disappears, it becomes apparent that someone else on board is out to grab all four sections. Not surprisingly, practically all of the passengers and crew seem to harbor secrets of one kind or another….

The entire film is set inside the ship, outside in the harbor, or in a neighboring waterfront bar…and it all takes place at night. Nicely designed sets and good shadowy photography create an atmosphere that is sinister and just slightly spooky.

Jimmy Chan can't seem to keep out of the water in this one….And my favorite line from the picture is the elder Chan's response to Jimmy's apology for falling in yet again: "Please. Save alibi for autobiography."

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