Because Charlie Chan plans to return to Honolulu, he no longer needs the services of Birmingham, who gets a job as butler for William and Justine Bonner, two apparently phony psychics who regularly host occult activities in their home. When Charlie's pretty daughter Frances attends a séance out of curiosity, Mr. Bonner is shot, and she becomes an immediate suspect. Charlie postpones his trip home to help with the investigation, which is made problematic when no bullet can be found in the wound and a hypnotized Mrs. Bonner is compelled to commit suicide by jumping off the roof of a downtown building. Written by
The title card on the DVD, which comes from the original negative, bears the original title, "Black Magic", but revisionists have superimposed "original title: 'Meeting at Midnight'" across the bottom of the screen. They've got it backwards. "Meeting at Midnight" was the new title attached to the film, about five years after its original release, in order to avoid confusion with Orson Welles' Black Magic (1949). See more »
When Charlie first declares himself psychic to Sgt. Matthews, we can see the pole held by a stagehand that makes a white handkerchief flutter over Charlie's head. See more »
Average Monogram Chan potboiler, in the Mongram House with some of the Monogram staff - but then, I've always liked this one! The surviving print (in Chanthology) is in excellent condition, lending a nice overall atmosphere to the proceedings and helping a lot in following the story. One of the things that always makes me smile watching Monogram's is that the plots usually involve dispensing with some or a lot of accepted social conventions - they weren't meant to be analysed and mulled over decades later. In this Moreland and Frances Chan are in and out of the house like yo-yo's, and creeping all over the place unseen - it wasn't their house but as in a lot of Monogram's you weren't supposed to dwell on ownership issues which obstructed juvenile frisson or slapstick.
At a séance a man is apparently shot dead with what turns out to be an invisible bullet, as Charlie jocularly puts it. The quest is on to find out which of the clients around the table did it and how. The way in which Charlie solved it is depressingly familiar and trite, but everything was wrapped up nicely anyway. As usual Moreland was acting scared witless, in fact with "gremlins galloping up and down his spine" this time - a fantastic image! Frances Chan couldn't act very well but she certainly looked like she was enjoying the experience of making a movie with her constant smiles - her sunny disposition seemed to be rubbing off on Toler too who was enjoying his own aphorisms more than ever.
Overall, nice to watch once in a while especially in a Chan season. And I prefer big shoes to big corns.
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