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The Chinese Ring (1947) - Plot Summary Poster

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Summaries

  • Princess Mei Ling pays a visit to the Chan residence, where upon being admitted by man-of-all-work Birmingham Brown she refuses to give her name, but hands Birmingham her ring to show to Charlie. While Chan is being summoned, a mysterious figure shoots a dart at the beautiful Princess who manages, before she dies of poison, to scrawl the name "Captain K" on a handy piece of paper. When the police arrive, Charlie has to admit that he does not know the identity of his murdered visitor, but that he means to find out. What he learns is that Mei Ling has brought with her to America the sum of one million dollars, in order to buy airplanes for the Chinese struggle for freedom. Someone has stolen the money, and someone may be trying to divert the planes into enemy hands. Can the famous detective, despite the fact that his Number Two Son has unaccountably changed his name from Jimmy to Tommy, who used to be his Number Three son, and despite the fact that Charlie, who used to be a Honolulu Police Detective, and then a Honolulu Police Detective On Loan To The United States Secret Service, has not only lost his jobs, but also the rest of his large family and has moved to San Francisco, discover who the bad guys are and solve the case?

  • Soon after a Chinese princess comes to the US to buy planes for her people, she is murdered by a poison dart fired by an air rifle.


Spoilers

The synopsis below may give away important plot points.

Synopsis

  • Charlie Chan (Roland Winters) is a private investigator living in San Francisco in semi-retirement from his Secret Service days. One evening, a Chinese princess comes to visit him in his home. She has just arrived from the East by boat. The princess manages to give Chan's butler Birmingham Brown (Mantan Moreland) an artifact - an ancient heirloom ring - before she is shot an killed by a poisoned arrow through the window. She leaves a note behind, with the name Captain K. Chan calls for the police to investigate this murder.

    Sgt. Bill Davidson (Warren Douglas) with the SFPD arrives at the Chan house to investigate, but his friend, the reporter Peggy Cartwright (Louise Currie), also arrives uninvited to the scene. By examining the ring, it turns out the princess name was Mei Ling (Barbara Jean Wong). She arrived in San Francisco weeks earlier with two men, Captain Kong (Philip Ahn) and Captain Kelso (Thayer Roberts), to try and acquire fighter planes to fight off an enemy back home as part of China's ongoing civil war. For this purpose she had brought a substantial amount of money, $1,000,000, with her on the journey.

    A search for the money ensues, but it soon turns out there are more people looking for the lost money. Peggy helps out in the hunt, and she meets the princess maid, Lillie Mae (Chabing), and a deaf-mute boy living in the princess apartment. When Chan comes to talk to the maid, he finds her murdered in the apartment, and the deaf-mute boy manages to tell him that a man came to visit the apartment shortly before the maid was found dead.

    Chan continues his search for the money, visiting the banker in charge of handling the princess assets abroad, Armstrong (Byron Foulger). While they are talking, Kong and Kelso, eager to get their share of the money, break in and kidnap both men and hold them for ransom. They are taken to the Chinese cargo vessel, but Birmingham manages to track them to the ship. Together with Chans son Tommy (Victor Sen Yung), they manage to free Chan and Armstrong, and when Bill and Peggy arrive to the ship with the police, Kong and Kelso are captured and arrested. Chan discovers that Armstrong is guilty of the princess murder, and of stealing her money. Armstrong also killed the maid to cover his tracks.

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