Thomas Harley (Edward Earle) is convicted for robbing a bank and
killing a guard in the process even though he insists he's innocent - but
who will believe him, his fingerprints are found all over the bank he
claims he's never been to and on the murder weapon? Charlie Chan (Sidney
Toler) believes him, that's who, and he agrees to investigate, but time is
pressing, it's only 7 days to Harley's execution.
First, Chan examines
Harley's alibi - he claims he was locked into a warehouse while the bank
robbery occured. He finds out that Johnson (Milton Parsons), the caretaker
of the warehouse, is staying at the same boarding house he was staying, he
finds out that the letter that lured Harley to the warehouse was written
on the typewriter of the boarding house, and that Ms Petrie (Janet Shaw),
another one of the lodgers at the boarding house, is actually the wife of
Slade (Anthony Warde), a forger serving time at the prison Harley served a
sentence 20 years ago.
Chan soon comes to the conclusion that Harley
must have been convicted for the crimes on the basis of forged
fingerprints, and he eventually gets a labguy to prove that it can be
done, too. And eventually, he rounds up several culprits among the lodgers
of the boarding house, not only Johnson and Miss Petrie (who gets killed
by her accomplices) but also a travelling salesman (Ray Walker) who sold
an alarm system to the robbed bank in question. Chan figures Slade must
also have been involved, but when he comes to pick him up, 'Slade tries to
make an escape with a gun he got from God-knows-where, a gun that
eventually backfires, killing him.
This leaves just one question open:
How did Slade on the inside get in touch with his accomplices on the
It's the guard (George Holmes) who's dating Harley's daughter
(Teaqla Loring), that's who.
Mantan Moreland plays Charlie Chan's
driver, Moreland's old comedy partner Ben Carter shows up thrice during
the movie and the two go into their rather hilarious infinite talk-routine
each time (with Chan joining in the last time), while Benson Fong plays
Chan's fittingly confused son.
Ok, so the premise of this film
is less than believable, and some of the story is pretty contrived, but as
usual in the series, the characters are all very likeable, the comedy and
murder mystery aspects of the plot are carefully balanced out, and this
one also benefits from a better-than-usual rather dynamic directorial
So ok, if you don't like the Charlie Chan-series
as such, don't even bother to watch this one, but if you do, this one's
not to be missed.