Dead Men Tell (1941)

Approved   |    |  Comedy, Crime, Mystery

Dead Men Tell (1941) Poster

A treasure map in four pieces, the ghost of a hanged pirate, a talking parrot, and a ship full of red herrings complicate Charlie's search for a murderer on board a docked ship.


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3 January 2014 | blanche-2
| Charlie shipboard; Jimmy in the water
"Dead Men Tell" is an enjoyable Charlie Chan mystery from 1941. People gather for a treasure hunt via ship to an island, based on a map an elderly woman, Patience Nodbury, inherited from her ancestor, a pirate named Black Hook. Since someone has attempted to steal the map, she's divided it into four pieces and gives three pieces to three passengers.

Patience says that Black Hook visits each relative before they die, and Black Hook visits her, all right, but in this case, he kills her. Charlie and Jimmy want to solve her murder, and they have plenty of suspects. There's a man posing as a reporter, Bill Lydig (George Reeves), a neurotic man, Gene LaFarge, who has a psychiatrist with him, and the captain, Captain Kane, whose ex-partner left him to do on a deserted island.

Dark, atmospheric film with Jimmy (Victor Sen Yung) in trouble most of the time. Toler has an authoritative presence as Charlie. He's less whimsical than Warner Oland, and his gruff voice gives his line readings a nice sarcasm. He tells Jimmy "Save alibi for your autobiography." One thing I noticed is, though these films have been criticized for not being politically correct, in the bar scene, no one calls Jimmy derogatory names. They make fun of him, but no one acts as if he looks different. In fact, I have never picked up anything like that in any film, directed at Charlie or one of his children. It seems to me that these are films of their time, which make them un-p.c. by today's enlightened standards, but the writers never meant to be deliberately insulting. Just an interesting thought, as the days of casting someone Chinese as Chinese were a long way off.

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