The Scarlet Clue
James S. Burkett for Monogram
directed by Phil Rosen
starring Sidney Toler, Mantan Moreland, Ben Carter, Benson Fong, Virginia Brissac, Robert Homans, Jack Norton, Janet Shaw, Helen Deverell, Victoria Faust, I.Stanford Jolley, Emmett Vogan, Milton Kibbee, Leonard Mudie, Crane Whitley, Charles Sherlock, Charles Wagenheim, Reid Kilpatrcik, Frank Mayo
written by George Callahan, based on characters by Earl Derr Biggers
Charlie Chan, Charlie Chan (Sidney Toler), Charlie Chan at Monogram
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Rausch (Charles Wagenheim), a criminal trailed by Charlie Chan (Sydney
Toler) for strying to steal radar secrets from the gouvernment , is
killed, & the only clue he has leads Chan & his assistants, Number
3 Son Tommy (Benson Fong) & Birmingham Brown (Mantan Moreland) to a
radio station that is situated by pure chance (?) in the same building as
professor Hamilton's (Emmett Vogan) radar research lab.
Soon, Chan has
identified the killer as studio manager Brett (I.Stanford Jolley), but he
works for an anonymous employer & is soon killed falling through
remotecontrolled secret trapdoor installed in the radio station's
Soon more murders occur, all radio actors, all poisoned after
smoking a cigarette ... but as they say, "the cigarettes are
harmless" (you couldn't say that nowadays anymore). After thorough
investigations Chan finds out that each of the microphones each of the now
dead performers had last spoken into, had been containing a (now broken)
capsule having contained a certain gas, that, in itself harmless, would
turn into poison when mixed with cigarette smoke (talk about far-fetched).
To no big surprise, Chan identifies all the radio station murders as an
inside job, & rather to everyone's surprise (since she did not feature
prominently during the proceedings at all), the ill-tempered station
manager Mrs Marsh (Virgina Brissac) is identified as the criminal
mastermind (& an enemy agent) behind it all & arrested.
Moreland's occasional (real-life) stage partner Ben Carter has a fun little cameo,
doing one of his & Mantan's double talk routines they regularly did on
stage ... incidently a routine that Mantan did with Frankie Darro (in
blackface) in an earlier movie, Up in
the Air - also a murder mystery set in a radio station.
usual with Monogram's Charlie Chan-films, this one's
not high on logic, with many of the gadgets/murderweapons/deductions more
than a little far fetched, & in the end the culprit is once more
pulled out of the hat ... but at the same time, the film moves at an ok
pace, doesn't take itself too seriously, & especially Toler &
Moreland do carry it over several inconsistencies with ease.