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 (firstname.lastname@example.org)
A house full of guests is the setting for this mystery story, wherein a scientist is murdered. Charlie Chan (Sidney Toler) investigates, along with his two irksome kids. The wonderful Mantan Moreland plays a bug-eyed Birmingham Brown, a role inserted presumably to add comic relief.
This sixty-three minute film contains about fifty minutes of story. The rest is filler, mostly in the film's first half. The story, about a secret WWII torpedo plan, is simple and direct. It's the kind of film I can envision as being typical for a 1940's Saturday afternoon matinée. There's a stage play quality to it, in that most of the scenes take place in three or four rooms. As with other films in the Chan series, the production design here is minimal and cheap looking. The emphasis is on the whodunit puzzle, but that's what counts most for murder mystery fans.
And the script does provide a good puzzle. The killer is camouflaged amid well thought out red herrings, in a way that makes solving the puzzle not real easy.
For Charlie Chan fans, this is one of the better mysteries in the Monogram series. For everyone else, the film has little or nothing to offer.
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