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Thomas Manning (Sam Flint) is murdered, & even though the police have a
prime suspect, his wife (Betty Blythe), they can't prove anything & have to
let her go ... but not so Paul Rebnik (Ian Keith), a criminologist, who writes
a book about the case in which he strongly accuses Mrs Manning ... but
essentially, he can't prove anything himself for sure ...
daughter Leah (Joan Woodbury) though is convinced that her mother is innocent,
& via his useless Number Three Son (Benson Fong), she persuades Chinese
supersleuth Charlie Chan (Sidney Toler) to pick up the case ... & upon
hearing that, Rebnik bets him a large sum of money that Chan will draw the same
conclusions as he did, & accuse Manning's wife in the end ... he couldn't
be more wrong.
Chan, together with his son, his driver Birmingham Brown
(Mantan Moreland) & detective Dennis (Weldon Heyburn), incidently Leah's
fiancé, soon picks up a trail neglected by everyone else, that leads them to a
smugglers' nest ... & to a dead man (John Davidson) ... & to an array
of Chinese sculptures that just happen to have secret compartments with stolen
gems hidden inside.
... & wouldn't you know it, Manning had several
similar statues in his possession (among them the titular Chinese Cat).
it is found out that Manning was indeed running a smuggling racket, together
with his (legit) business partner Deacon (Cy Kendall) ... but obviously Manning
got too greedy & hid away an extremely valuable gem from his associates (in
the Chinese Cat) & for that he had to die ...
Of course, Deacon makes a
getaway, but, Chan & company, in hot puusuit, soon find him dead in a
spooky funhouse ... & soon Chan & son have become captives of the
remaining smuggling ring, who want to force the whereabouts of a valuable gem
out of Chan by torturing his son - but Chan doesn't even flinch. Eventually the
torture is halted by a rather klutzy interference by Birmingham, who makes
enough of a mess of the situation that Chan can arrest all teh smugglers before
the police arrive.
Not that this film would be any great piece of
mystery, it's rather sloppily written, & the twists & turns of Chan's
investigations seem to be rather pulled out of a hat than thought through, but
(as ever so often in the series) a light-hearted approach, an entertaining cast
of regulars & a touch of humour make this a rather enjoyable B-mystery.