A pretty Chinese woman, seeking help from San Francisco detective James Lee Wong, is killed by a poisoned dart in his front hall, having time only to scrawl "Captain J" on a sheet of paper.... See full summary »
A scientist working on an important new invention which will protect Allied shipping from U-boat torpedoes has been assigned Secret Service security protection. Amazingly, despite the fact that his laboratory and experiments are located on the upper floor of his Washington mansion, he decides to host a cocktail party for friends on the first floor. Even though several of his guests are foreign nationals with shadowy pasts, he refuses to allow his bodyguards to attend because their presence might offend them. When he is killed by unknown means before joining them, the resultant summary investigation includes Honolulu detective Charlie Chan and children Tommy and Iris, later joined by Birmingham Brown, the chauffeur of one of the guests. When a preliminary autopsy reveals the scientist was electrocuted, Charlie and his associates must decide which of the suspects and red herrings is the guilty party. Written by
Gabe Taverney (email@example.com)
"When alibi pushed at me, always suspect motive in woodpile."
This first Monogram Charlie Chan film is a little tougher to enjoy than the prior 20th Century Fox films. For one, Sidney Toler's depiction of Chan is more abrupt and almost mean spirited at times. Music is used more frequently, but seems out of place, as when a dramatic score is used when Chan casually strolls to a taxi. Offsetting these points is the introduction of two new members of the Chan Clan, the film now revealing there are fourteen! offspring. Benson Fong joins the action as Number #3 son Tommy, and Marianne Quon is introduced as Number #2 daughter Iris. Mantan Moreland also joins the cast as Birmingham Brown, although his character has not been fully developed at this point.
The mystery involves the murder of a World War II scientist and inventor who has developed plans for a new torpedo. The cast of suspects is a varied lot, and as Charlie closes in on the killer, the killer himself is murdered. Charlie uses a ruse to flush out the second murderer, but somehow it seems contrived, as there is nothing in the film to lead up to the second killer's identity. Other guests are built up to seem more suspicious, such as Paul Arranto, confined to a wheelchair but who can actually walk. It's as if one of Charlie's own lines in the film can be used to describe the solution - "Explanation too perfect to be true".
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