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
I must confess a rather soft spot in my movie heart for the Chan(as well as Wong and Moto) mysteries of the 30's and 40's. They have some great stories to tell, inventive if not too logical puzzles to solve, some gifted supporting acting in most cases, and a friendly kind of spirit inflamed within. They also have some poor, wooden performances, harbor some of the most offensive stereotypes of OUR day, and seem hurriedly put together at times. Charlie Chan and the Meeting at Midnight(version which I saw) has qualities both with negative charges and positive. Sidney Toler always does a nice, wry job of playing Honoloulou's #1 detective, though I much prefer Warner Oland. This vehicle for Toler seems to be rather substandard. I'll chalk that up as it was made by Monogram. The story is a bit too far-fetched about a couple being killed...one at a séance table by a bullet that disappeared. The story of the bullet was intriguing, but some loose ends were not tied all too convincingly for me. No #1 son or #2 son or even #3 son here. We get Frances Chan(both her character's name and her name in real life). Frances plays Charlie's #1 daughter. Plays may be a bit generous as her performance certainly was wooden. Mantan Moreland is back as Birmingham Brown. I know he caught a lot of flack later in his life for his portrayals of being scared and so forth, but, for me, he is easily the best thing in this movie. All his gags don't work, but he keeps trying. Moreland was a natural comic presence and he should be viewed as such. Period. Not a bad Chan film but by no means one of the better ones.
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