|John Gallaudet and Roland Winters|
Simon LaFontanne (Boyd Irwin of The Invisible Killer) comes to Charlie Chan (Roland Winters) for help when he fears for his life. Watch out -- whenever someone comes to Chan or any other Great Fictional Detective afraid they'll be killed, you know their hours are numbered! Sure enough, LaFontanne is killed by poison gas in his own office. Suspects include the bitter chemist Oscar Swenstrom (Harry Hayden); LaFontanne's partners in the chemical syndicate, Von Scherbe (Stanley Andrews) and Castanaro (Emmett Vogan); the officer manager, Thompson (Rory Mallinson); and the mysterious Countess Aguirre (Carol Forman) and her sinister associates, Grock (Douglas Fowler) among them. Chan is assisted in the case by Capt. Pete McNally (John Gallaudet), who is involved with the victim's niece, Rene (Virginia Dale). If there's anything wrong with the film, it's that it's essentially a remake of the first Mr. Wong [!] movie, Mr. Wong, Detective, and even has the same killer [with a minor added twist]. Mantan Moreland and Victor Sen Yung are along for the ride, and we even have Birminghan Brown's cousin, Mobile Jones (Haywood Jones), although their antics are kept to a minimum. Roland Winters seems less Oriental than Toler and Oland, but he's quite effective as Chan. Of the rest of the cast, the best impression is made by Carol Forman of The Black Widow.
Verdict: Okay if it hadn't been recycled. **.