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Panama, a day before the US-fleet is to pass through to the Pacific to
reinforce the country's forces there. Agent Godley (Addison Richards), who
is on the trail of mysterious international spy who tries to blow up the
Canal, is murdered by a poisoned cigarette - but not before paying a visit
to Charlie Chan (Sidney Toler), who is working undercover as a panama hat
seller in Panama for the secret service. Chan soon takes up
investigations, and his cover is soon blown by his own son Jimmy (Victor
Chan focuses his investigations that were on a plane with
Godley on the day he died: an author of espionage literature who's just a
bit too nosey for his own good (Lionel Atwill), a middle aged school
teacher looking for adventure (Mary Nash), a shady nightclub owner (Jack
La Rue), a sinister Egyptian (Frank Puglia), a scientist whose experiments
might not be wholly legal (Lionel Royce), an engineer working at the Canal
(Kane Richmond), and the typical good girl who has gotten into trouble
through no fault of her own (Jean Rogers).
At first of course, the
writer seems to be the most suspicious, but then he is found dead. After
much to and fro, Charlie tricks the nightclub owner into giving himself
away of being with the other side, but is he the spy? Charlie thinks no.
The nightclub owner gets away, too.
A trail leads Charlie, his son and
the schoolteacher to a crypt that seems to implicate the Egyptian - but
then they are locked in. In the meantime, the nightclub owner delivers
explosives to the Canal and places a timebomb at the premises, too. Then
he shows up at the crypt, and apparently without knowing what he was
doing, he frees Charlie and company, but when they run after him, he is
killed by two shot that nobody seems to have fired.
Charlie asks all
surviving passengers of the plane to the office building of the Panama
Canal, where he knows a timebomb is placed, and he also knows when it will
go off, approximately ... so while he has the building evacuated, he locks
himself in inside with all the suspects, knowing the closer the time of
the blast will come, the more likely it is for the baddie to reveal
him-/herself ... and ultimately, he is right, the spy turns out to be -
the harmless schoolteacher, whom Charlie (and with him probably most of
the mystery-savvy audience) has suspected for quite some time.
course, the Canal does not get blown up, the fleet passes undisturbed, and
the teacher isw arrested on the spot.
Nothing special, but a
neatly done and well-paced series murder mystery with espionage
undercurrents. Of course, there have better paced, funnier, better
written, better executed Charlie Chan-films, but that
doesn't make this one at all bad ...