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Since his dad Charlie Chan (Sidney Toler) is temporarily indisposed,
his wannabe private investigator number two son Jimmy (Victor Sen Yung)
decides to try and solve a murder aboard a freighgt ship on his own - but
it's not long before he's almost thrown overboard and only saved by the
timely arrival of his dad ...
The case under investigation unfolds
itself like this: Miss Hayes (Phyllis Brooks), an attorney's assistant,
was to hand over a huge sum of money to a certain man, but that certain
man who's a complete stranger, was shot dead at the handover, and no trace
concerning his identity can be found on him. The killer however did not
try to tear the money oujt of Miss Hayes' hands, instead later steals it
from her room.
Charlie sees himself confronted with a shipload of
suspects, like a mad professor (George Zucco) who collects brains of
criminals and keeps one alive using come complicated machinery, two
gangsters (Marc Lawrence, Richard Lane), one of whom is dressing up as a
policemandelivering the other to Honolulu, the first mate (John Dusty
King) who has gotten quite chummy with Miss Hayes, and then there's of
course Miss Hayes herself, because why wouldn't she be tempted to steal a
large sum of money that has been entrusted to her, right? But more
suspicious than any of them is a certain Mrs Wayne (Claire Dodd), who
remains incredibly evasive during questioning, and who eventually turns
out to be the wife of the dead man who is presently trying to get a
divorce and her hands on his money ... but then she is found murdered!
Charlie sets up a trap, confronting all the suspects with the murder
weapon, counting on it that somebody will turn out the lights and try to
steal it - which is exactly what happens, but Charlie has connected the
murder weapon to a photo camera with flashlight that goes off when the
weapon is as much as touched, and it takes a perfect photo of the actual
killer - the captain (Robert Barrat) of the freighter, for whom the lump
of money was just too tempting, expectially after Mrs Wayne made him her
accomplice, but he got rid of her when he no longer needed her.
the death of Warner Oland, this was the first Charlie Chan movie with
Sidney Toler in the lead - and to tell you the truth, he comes across as a
rather decent replacement. Also, Chan's son Keye Luke is replaced by
Victor Sen Yung - and he's a bit of a letdown in comparison to Luke,
failing to play the role with the same mixture of comedy and dignity ...
and apart from that, Luke quite simply was the better actor.
said, Toler's introduction into the series is a rather entertaining yet
pretty routine series movie, certainly no highlight of the series but
decent entertainment nevertheless.