Desperate to save her brother Paul (Douglas Walton), who is to be hanged for a
murder he didn't commit on overwhelming circumstantial evidence, Pam Gray (Drue
Leyton) turns to that oriental supersleuth from Honolulu, Charlie Chan (Warner
Oland) for help, as he happens to stay in London just by coincidence.
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Chan of course agrees & soon follows Pam to the scene of the crime, a
hunting estate owned by Jeffrey Richmond (Alan Mowbray), Paul's former empoyer,
& for some reason most of the people who were present at the estate when
the murder took place are still there (even though it happened 3 months ago) -
& of course, everyone acts mighty suspicious, including butler Philips
(Murray Kinnell), Paul's attorney Neil (Ray Milland), who is also Pam's
fiancé, Richmond's new secretary Jardin (George Barraud), Richmond's
fiancée Mary (Mona Barrie), Garton (Walter Johnson), the American who is
secretly in love with her, & even the stable lad Lake (John Rogers), who
obviously knows more than he is willing to tell Chan ... Chan decides to give
Lake a night to sleep it over & force a confession out of him in the
morning ... only, in the morning Lake is dead.
This, & an attempt on his own life, make Chan believe that the murderer
is still on the premises after all this time - so, to find a motive for the
murder, Chan digs into the past of the deceased & finds out he was an
inventor for the Royal Air Force working on a silencer for war planes - which
of course leads only to one possible conclusion ... international espionage !
& not only that, since the killer is still here, so must the plans for
the silencer be.
So, Chan decides to set a trap for the killer, claiming he will look for the
plans this night & maybe find fingerprints of the murderer on them. But
alas, the trap seems to spring on Chan, when he asks, of all people, Richmond
to help him, & even hands him a gun ... & Richmond is of course the
killer, & when Chan finds the plans, he shoots him ... But the trap
ultimately springs on Richmond after all when he has to realize the gun did
only contain blanks & the police was already waiting around the corner for
& butler Philips, the most sinister & suspicious looking person of
the bunch proves to be a government agent after Richmond, who turns out to be
an international superspy.
Of all the Oriental detectives that populated the screen in the 1930's &
40's, Charlie Chan proved to be the most enduring & also the
most original: His character was etched out with more care than usual, his use
of Chinese wisdom & (sometimes annoying) proverbs give his being Oriental
more than just novelty value, a usually carefully chosen cast of supporting
ctors makes the mysteries more interesting, whiole a dose of humour prevents it
from taking itself too seriously, & lets one forget the occasional lack of
Here the comical relief is provided by E.E.Clive as a bumbling British
police inspector, in later movies, Charlie Chan would always bring a son as
regular comic sidekick, but Keye Luke, playing Charlie Chan's Number One Son,
would not join the series until one year later.
To this day, Warner Oland is considered to be the best player to have played
Charlie Chan (despite not being Oriental at all but Swedish), but he was
already the fourth actor to play the role after George Kuwa, Kamiyama Sojin