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Cabbie Birmingham Brown (Mantan Moreland) has taken a job as butler at
the Bonners, opresumably to be as far away from Charlie Chan (Sidney
Toler) & his murdercases as possible ... but the Bonners are phony
spiritists, & Birmingham is no five minutes in their employ, is
William Bonner (Dick gordon) killed during a seance. & since Chan's
daughter Frances (Frances Chan ... really, that's the name of the actress
too - even if maybe not her real real name) was among the particiants of
the seance, it's only a matter of minutes until Charlie Chan is dragged
into the case ... a case that has the police baffled, as despite the fact
that the man was shot & the bullet did enter but not exit his body, no
bullet can be found inside his body, plus noone among the seance's
participants seems to have had a motive ...
Of course, Chan soon picks
up the first suspect, Norma Duncan (Helen Beverly), who attended the
seance under a false name because the Bonners drove her father into
suicide & she was there to collect evidence against them ... but as
soon as Chan has heard her motives he lets her go ...
Going along with
his investigations, Chan, together with his daughter & Birmingham,
collect more & more evidence against all of the seance's participants,
& even find a couple (Claudia Dell, Charles Jordan) living in the
secret passageways of the Bonner house, who are pretty much in charge of
turning the seances into a convincing show. ... but be that as it may,
soon Bonner's wife Justine (Jacqueline DeWit) throws herself off a
building to her death, & Chan figures she was driven to suicide by
hypnotic pills (!) ... but what's worse Chan is soon abducted y the
villain (whoever it is) & is given one of these hypnotic pills, too
(but manages to secretly spit it out). Later he too is shot at, but evades
the bullet ... but curiously enough the chair he sat in starts to bleed
... the answer is really quite simple (?), the killer uses bullets made
from deep-frozen blood (!), and he has the great ability to deceive
everyone, ergo he is a magician ... Shardo the great from ten years ago,
who had an affair with Bonner's wife Justine but Bonner tried to kill him
in a carcrash ... but what nobody knew is that Shardo survived & got a
new face, that of (rather pompous) Paul Hamlin (Charles Jacquet), who even
seems to get away, too, as he threatens everyone with his frozen blood
shooting weapon camouflaged as a cigarette case ... but Chalrlie Chan has
a few magic gadgets at his own disposal, among them an extensible
hand that quickly disarms the villain ...
Not that Monogram's
Charlie Chan movies were ever particularly high on logic
& stuff, & not that that ever hurt these movies all that much ...
but Meeting at Midnight is pretty much pushing credibility to the
limits (actually slightly over the limits), losing itself in fancy magic
gadgets (blood bullets, hypnotic pills) that are of little meaning to the
actual mystery but are supposed to create an eerie atmosphere - but
actually fail & only distract from the main plot, that once again in
the end pulls the culprit out of the hat rather than finding him by logci
Still, Toler & Moreland do their best to keep the story
in a light mood, ably supoported by Frances Chan as Toler's number
something (I don't suppose he says) daughter, which keeps the film from
being the disaster I probably made it appear to be.