Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Thursday, April 9, 2015


Truman Bradley as the mysterious Captain Kane
DEAD MEN TELL (1941). Director: Harry Lachman.

Charlie Chan (Sidney Toler) is invited to participate in a treasure hunt for sixty million dollars on Coco's Island, a hunt presided over by the elderly Patience Nodbury (Ethel Griffies). Poor Patience is found dead on the docked ship, the Suva Star, whose Captain Kane (Truman Bradley of The Night Before the Divorce) does his best to keep out of sight as the other passengers embark. Tales of a pirate's ghost give Jimmy Chan (Victor Sen Yung) the willies when an unknown peg-legged man goes about causing mischief. Other suspects besides the captain include prison escapee Lydig (George Reeves); pretty typist Kate (Sheila Ryan of Great Guns); the weird Gene LaFarge (the ever-cadaverous Milton Parsons); perky Laura Thursday (Kay Aldridge); and Dr. Bonney (Lenita Lane of The Mad Magician); among others. If there's any problem with Dead Men Tell it's that the ship never leaves the dock and there's no action on the aforementioned island at all. Still, this has interesting aspects and is well-acted by everyone. Ethel Griffies [Vigil in the Night] is the cast stand-out even if she isn't around too long. As a running gag, Jimmy falls into the water perhaps once too often.

Verdict: More Jimmy hijinks with "Pop." **1/2.

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