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This time around, Charlie Chan (Sidney Toler) and his son Jimmy (Victor
Sen Yung) are in Rio to arrest nightclub singer Lola Dean (Jacqueline
Dalya) for murder. She's totally unaware of that and has made other plans,
like marrying her boyfriend (Ted North), and paying a visit to mindreader
Merana (Victor Jory) - who uses a drugged cigarette to get a recorded
confession to the very murder she is to be arrested for out of her. As to
why the mindreader does that, ...
Later, Lola is to have a farewell
supper with all of her friends (who hate her), but with the house already
full of them, she is found dead in her room, murdered. Fortunately,
Charlie Chan shows up with his son and Brazilian chief of police Souto
(Harold Huber) to take care of investigations. After much to and fro,
Lola's jewelery are found with the butler (Leslie Denison), who eventually
admits to stealing them, but denies having murdered Lola - but he ... and
then the light goes out and he's shot dead.
Charlie figures out the
murderer might have the needle of a broche worn by Lola when she was
killed in his or her shoe - and he eventually finds the needle in the shoe
of Lola's personal assistant Helen (Kay Linaker), who of course denies any
involvement, and since the needle in the shoe is hardly any concrete
proof, Charlie has nothing to go on. Fortunately, mindreader Merana is on
the scene with his drugged cigarettes that will get the truth out of
everybody (which was convincingly demonstrated to Charlie earlier), and
Helen agrees to smoke one. Under the influence of the cigarette, Helen
still denies everything - upon which Charlie decides to smoke the rest of
the cigarette himself, and wouldn't you know it, it's a dud. Merana
realizes he has been unmasked, so he confesses everything: He was the
brother of the man Lola has killed, and has now killed her in revenge, and
the butler because he would have revealed him.
With this confession,
Charlie should be happy, only he isn't, because giving Helen an undrugged
cigarette only suggests there is something she isn't supposed to say ...
like that she was the wife of the man Lola has murdered, and has together
with Merana tracked her down to Rio, where she became Lola's assistant, to
eventually murder her when the time is right. And the butler had to go
because he witnessed everything ...
And Merana? He only helped Helen to
track Lola down to hand her over to the authorities eventually and
confessed to everything only to cover up for her ...
Chan film that has its fair share of strengths and weaknesses: On
one hand, there is a strong cast and some nice, eccentric characters, on
the other though, the whole mystery is a bit too convoluted, the drugged
cigarette as a plot device is just a tad silly, and the whole thing is so
crowded with characters hardly any of them come into their own. Still a
rather enjoyable series movie, but by no means anything special ...