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Hawaii: Actress Shelah Fane (Dorothy Revier) is madly in love with Alan
Jaynes (William Post jr) - but won't let him propose to her until she has
spoken to Tarneverro (Bela Lugosi), her personal psychic. Interestingly
enough, Tarneverro is against the marriage, so Shelah breaks off with Alan
altogether ... and a few hours later she is found dead.
There are of course suspects a dime a dozen, like Alan of course, then
Robert (Victor Varconi), her ex-husband who was seen at the scene of the
crime approximately when the murder has happened, Julie (Sally Eilers),
Shelah's best friend and companion, who is hiding vital evidence, and
Jessop, Shelah's butler who seems to be slightly mad (and what else can he
be, being played by Dwight Frye). And how about Tarneverro himself, who
seems to have some personal agenda ?
Charlie Chan (Warner Oland) however
who is investigating the case, has some different ideas altogether, as he
links the case to the old, unsolved murder of a man who was alleged to be
Shelah's lover ...
Then, to everybody's surprise, Robert confesses to
the murder but Charlie Chan proves his innocence, upon which Smith (Murray
Kinnell), a penniless painter, tries to blackmail Robert, but is killed by
a person unknown.
Ultimately, Chan finds out that Tarneverro is the
brother of Shelah's murdered lover, and he has evidence that Shelah did
indeed murder him - but it wasn't him who killed Shelah but Anna (Violet
Dunn), Shelah's innocent-looking maid who was really the dead mans wife
just looking for evidence against Shelah - and when she found it, her
temper got the better of her and ... there goes Shelah ...
But who then
killed Smith ?
Jessop the mad butler of course, who knew who Anna really
was but was madly in love with her, and when he thought Smith had evidence
against her, he just had to kill him ... but thanks to Charlie Chan, all
the baddies get their just desserts ...
In a time before Charlie Chan
had his numerous sons (and some daughters as well) to help him, Otto
Yamaoka plays his inept assistand Koshima.
Like most Charlie
Chan films produced by Fox, this one is an entertaining
murder mystery that features just the right mix between crime drama and
light comedy and that doesn't take itself too seriously - which is why its
slightly over-convoluted plot is absolutely forgiveable. Of course, that
doesn't make The Black Camel a genre classic, but still a highly