The Shanghai Cobra
James S. Burkett for Monogram
directed by Phil Karlson
starring Sidney Toler, Mantan Moreland, Benson Fong, James Cardwell, Joan Barclay, Addison Richards, Arthur Loft, Janet Warren, Gene Roth, Joe Devlin, James Flavin, Roy Gordon, Walter Fenner, Cyril Delevanti, George Chandler, Stephen Gregory, Mary Moore
screenplay by George Callahan, George Wallace Sayre, based on a story by George Callahan and characters by Earl Derr Biggers
Charlie Chan, Charlie Chan (Sidney Toler), Charlie Chan at Monogram
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Several employees of the First National Bank turn up dead, killed by
cobra poison ... which is dopubly upsetting because inside the bank's
vault the gouvernment keeps its ready supply of radium (!). But Chinese
superdetective from Hawaii Charlie Chan (Sidney Toler) was arresting a
man, Jan Van Horn, who killed bank employees in the same way back in
Shanghai 10 years ago ... a man who has since escaped & who has
undergone plastic surgery ... & so it's a pretty good thing that
Charlie Chan - along with assistants Number 3 Son (Benson Fong) &
Birmingham Brown (Mantan Moreland) - is at hand.
Chan's first clues are
private eye Ned Stewart (James Cardwell) & a mysterious woman - who
turns ut to be Paula Webb (Joan Barclay), a secretary at the bank.
Eventually though, both of them turn out to be innocent. Further
investigations though lead to Joe's (George Chandler) Diner & a
jukebox therein that is remotecontrolled by an office inside the bank
building & ejects darts dipped in cobra poison (talk about far
fetched), then there's a weird system of pipes & service tunnels
beneath the bank, that all have to do something with Rita's (Mary Moore)
Laundrette, & with chemical researcher Jarvis (James Flavin), who
might not be quite as respectable as he looks ... in fact he planned to
use the bank's pipes to send his explosives there, blow up the vault &
make a getaway via the sewage system.
Chan & assistants manage to
stop him of course, even if they are temporarily caught in a caved in
tunnel & Chan has to send his commands to the police via morsecode.
the end of course, Jarvis is arrested ... & turns out to be not Jan
Van Horn at all but the special agent who has arrested him back in
Shanghai ... & Jan Van Horn turns out to be one of the bank's guards,
eager to prove his innocence & thus on Jarvis' trail (who has
of course committed the killings in Shanghai as well & only framed Van
Horn) ... plus Paula Webb is actually Van Horn's daughter.
little bit darker in mood than the previous Monogram Charlie Chan
movies directed by Phil Rosen, the script for this one is nevertheless
about as muddled up as those of the previous entries, but again it profits
from a rather lighthearted approach to their roles by the central cast
(Toler, Moreland, Fong) & a refusal to take itself too seriously.