38 user 13 critic

Black Magic (1944)

Approved | | Comedy, Crime, Drama | 19 August 1944 (USA)
Charlie searches for a murderer amidst numerous ghosts conjured up by a strange variety of spiritualists and occultists.


Phil Rosen


Earl Derr Biggers (characters), George Callahan (original screenplay)




Complete credited cast:
Sidney Toler ... Charlie Chan
Mantan Moreland ... Birmingham Brown
Frances Chan ... Frances Chan
Joseph Crehan ... Police Sgt. Matthews
Helen Beverley Helen Beverley ... Norma Duncan / Nancy Wood
Jacqueline deWit ... Justine Bonner
Geraldine Wall Geraldine Wall ... Harriet Green
Ralph Peters ... Officer Rafferty
Frank Jaquet ... Paul Hamlin
Edward Earle ... Dawson, Police Lab
Claudia Dell ... Vera Starkey
Harry Depp Harry Depp ... Charles Edwards
Charles Jordan Charles Jordan ... Tom Starkey
Dick Gordon ... William Bonner (as Richard Gordon)


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 duke1029

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis




Approved | See all certifications »

Did You Know?


Although Charlie Chan's daughters appeared with him in previous films (including Charlie Chan in Honolulu (1938) and Charlie Chan at the Circus (1936)), this is the only film in which a daughter (Frances) plays the assistant role usually done by one of Chan's sons (Lee, Jimmy, Tommy). 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 »


Charles Edwards: Your spirits are a long time coming, Mr. Chan.
Charlie Chan: Spirits always have very long way to come.
See more »


Followed by The Red Dragon (1945) See more »

User Reviews

ARRGGHH!!! Like other Monogram Studios Chan movies, how can anyone score this a 10?
2 September 2006 | by MartinHaferSee all my reviews

Okay, I must admit that I generally DO like B-movies and series films from the 1940s. I like to watch The Falcon, The Saint, Sherlock Holmes and even Charlie Chan--they are escapist fun. Predictable and occasionally poorly written? Sure,...but still fun. So, despite my love for the genre, I am still in complete shock that so many people gave this ordinary little film a 10 on IMDb!! Come on, people, this is NOT "high art" or even an especially memorable film and the IMDb ratings become irrelevant if such a film is given ridiculously inflated scores! I would really LOVE to know what scores the people that give this movie a 10 gave to OTHER films. Do they give them all 10s or are they scoring films like GONE WITH THE WIND, BEN HUR, CHARIOTS OF FIRE or ORDINARY PEOPLE with lower scores?! I'm just dying to know.

Okay, as for the movie itself, it's pretty much what you'd expect from a later Charlie Chan movie from Mongram Studios. Unlike the original Chan movies (which featured higher production values, better scripts and Warner Oland), this movie was made by a "Poverty Row" studio (Monogram)--known for exceptionally low budgets and a quick turnaround on the films (completing many in just days--regardless of the aesthetics). While a little more interesting because of its plot involving phony psychics and mind control as well as an unusual appearance by one of Chan's daughters instead of the ubiquitous #1, 2 or 3 son, it is still an essentially low-budget formulaic film. And, as usual, Chan is supported by the moronic antics of Mantan Moreland--a Black actor sure to offend many modern viewers due to his stereotypical characterization (as a scared and rather dim-witted Black man as "comic relief"). Despite this MAJOR problem with all the Monogram films, I try to overlook it and understand it was typical of the 1940s (sadly). The film, while occasionally very interesting, isn't well-written or produced and probably will satisfy Chan fans but fail to convince others of the merits of the series.

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Release Date:

19 August 1944 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Meeting at Midnight See more »


Box Office


$75,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Monogram Pictures See more »
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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Mirrophonic Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »

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