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 »
This is mostly a routine Charlie Chan mystery with only a couple of points in its favor. While there are a couple of interesting clues to the crime, the characters, dialogue, and action are all stereotyped or dated, and often dull. The beginning seems to hold some possibilities: a man is murdered at a seance, and although he was apparently shot, no trace of the bullet can be found. The police are baffled, and of course call in Charlie Chan to solve the crime. Charlie is assisted this time not by one of his sons, but by his daughter Frances. Unfortunately, it never really takes off from there.
The phony medium setting offers some opportunities for comedy, but most of those do not work too well. The climax has a bit of suspense to it, and the eventual solution has a couple of creative points in it, but there are a lot of listless stretches to sit through before you can get there.
Overall, "Meeting at Midnight" (or, "Charlie Chan in Black Magic") is not one of the better mystery films around.
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