When three employees of a bank are found murdered with cobra venom, Charlie Chan connects the homicides to a case he had worked in Shanghai in 1937. Even though he arrested the alleged murderer, whom later escaped from the police, Charlie wouldn't be able to recognize him because, at the time of his apprehension, his badly burned face and hands were swathed in bandages. Although Chan believes he is now involved with a gang that is stealing valuable radium from a bank vault, utilizing tunnels that connect to the area sewer system, his new identity remains a mystery. When a detective disguised as a bank guard is found dead in a tunnel by Birmingham, Charlie knows he's on the right track. Written by
Classic Chan didn't end when Fox retired the great sleuth!!
This is an excellent Monogram Charlie Chan that sets a mood and plays it to the hilt. Although the Monogram films never had a budget anywhere near those of the Twentieth Century Fox Chan's, this one comes close to creating the same sense of style that imbued the earlier films. From the film-noir rain slicked opening segment to the fades between scenes, this has a bold feel that overcomes its budget considerations. Sidney Toler is in fine form and appears to appreciate the enthusiasm of director Phil Karlson and the script, as he gives his all in every scene he is in. Benson Fong is good as Number 3 Son Tommy and Mantan Moreland sparkles in his comedic moments which are well timed and effortlessly diverting and not distracting to the central mystery. And it's a very good mystery too, that reminded me a bit of Castle In The Desert, inasmuch as you really have to keep a sharp eye on EVERY major character and try to remember names and relationships to keep on top of the proceedings! Your always double guessing yourself and that is the sign of a mystery doing its job! Everyone is having a great time on this one and it shows--credit too must go to the production team who "opened up" the feel of this one and didn't simply use two sets. Check this out with an open mind and you will realize that classic Chan didn't end when Fox gave up their lease.
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