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)
Even though the story is set in Washington, D.C., the film was shot in Los Angeles, California. The California State Building (1931-1975) is the government building used for Charlie Chan's office. At the VIDEO MARK of 0:04:55, an establishing shot of the State Building is shown. At the VIDEO MARK of 0:07:40 through 8:25, actor Sidney Toler walks through the lobby of the State Building and out the entrance. [Note the dramatic music underneath the exterior shot of Mr. Toler.]
The California State Building was a state governmental office building, located at 215 West 1st Street, in downtown Los Angeles. The building was found to be structurally unsafe after a 1971 earthquake, necessitating demolition. See more »
Much is made over the fact that Dr. Melton, the murder victim,
was left-handed. Yet, earlier, he was seen doing various things, such as taking notes, opening a door, and turning on the fatal light switch, all with his right hand. See more »
In 1942, 20th Century-Fox had dropped its long-running 'Charlie Chan' movie series (perhaps the studio bosses thought that in war times, murder mysteries would be inappropriate); but Sidney Toler himself bought the rights, and two years later he 'carried on' at Monogram Pictures. Monogram had already tried their hand at an 'imitation' of the series, the (not too impressive) 'Mr. Wong' films with Boris Karloff - but now they had the REAL thing in their hands! And even from this very first Monogram 'Charlie Chan', the quality of the movies (although made on a considerably lower budget!) was NOT inferior to that of the Fox films (with the exception of some REAL masterpieces like "The Black Camel", "Charlie Chan's Secret", or "Dead Men Tell") - they were just DIFFERENT in style. More humor was added, more members of Charlie's family were introduced as his assistants, and Monogram regular, the great black comedian Mantan Moreland, became an almost indispensable member of the troupe.
In Monogram's first entry in the 'Charlie Chan' series, our beloved detective has joined the Secret Service - doing his duty for his country hunting down not 'ordinary' murderers, but dangerous spies of enemy countries. And he's assigned to the case of scientist Melton, who'd been working on a very effective new torpedo, and had suddenly died right in the hall of his own house where he was about to hold a dinner party - and the torpedo plans he had on him are missing... Charlie immediately suspects the international spy who's known only as 'Manlic', hoping to be able to lie his hands on him at last - and starts his investigations with the dinner party guests, who all really look MORE than suspicious...
Meanwhile, number three son Tommy and number two daughter Iris are eager to help their Pop while Jimmy is away - and together with chauffeur Birmingham (who tries all the time in vain to get away from the scene of the crime), they make a marvelous trio of confusion that adds laughter rather than help for Charlie - and for us! A REALLY entertaining, and quite clever spy/murder mystery, a great start for a new 'era' of Charlie Chan movies at Monogram Pictures...
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