A money courier is killed during an airplane flight while everybody
else (including the pilots) has been knocked out by drugged coffee. When
everyone comes to, the courier's money is gone (naturally), and now the
police is convinced that one of the pilots (Milburn Stone) has
drugged everyone and then thrown the money overboard. Why the pilot?
Because he was the only one to know where to drop the briefcase full of
money for his accomplices to pick it up.
Seems like an open and shut
case - only Charlie Chan (Roland Winters), one of the plane's passengers,
is not so sure, so he starts his own investigations,and he soon comes up
with quite a number of suspects, like the shady co-pilot (Joel Marston),
an insurance detective with a criminal record (Lyle Talbot) and his
burlesque dancer wife (Iris Adrian), the wife's stewardess sister with a
criminal past (Elena Verdugo), to name but a few. Unfortunately though,
Chan's suspects seem to be dropping like flies, and whoever is offing the
suspects also seems to be one step ahead of Chan concerning his
investigations, which is why vital evidence keeps disappearing before Chan
can gather it.
Ultimately, Chan invites everyone to the airplane where
the murder has happened, to reconstruct the crime, and here the culprit
finally reveals himself to everyone: Insurance detective Anderson (Paul
Maxey), who together with his boss (John Eldredge) has figured out a plot
to smuggle the money off the plane undetected and under the eyes of the
police. Anderson is not one to give up easily, so he tries to cause the
plane to crash and parachute off in time, but ultimately he is overcome by
everyone else ...
Keye Luke and Mantan Moreland can be seen as Chan's
Number One Son and his driver, respectively, for one last time, while Noel
Neill has a rather pale role as a good girl stewardess.
very last of Monogram's
Charlie Chan-movies, and watching the movie one can't fail
to notice teh whole series has run a bit stale: Sure, the lead characters
and their actors are all still likeable, and they do what they're expected
to do, but their routines have seen better days. Likewise, the case they
are working on is less than exceptionally exciting, and its solution
presents itself way too early to the discerning eye ... but none of this
triggered the end of the series, probably, after all, worse Charlie
Chan-movies have been made prior to this one - it was simply that
with the rise of television, many B-movie series lost their swing in the
late 1940's, and the B-movie industry as such would undergo a radical
transformation in the 1950's.
So what does all of this say about the
movie at hand: It's an ok entry into a series that had seen better days,
nothing to write home about, but also not painful to watch.