Dead Men Tell
Cast & Crew
On the night before his ship, the Suva Star , is to leave for Cocos Island on a treasure hunt, Captain Kane discusses the journey's sponsor, Miss Patience Nodbury, with Steve Daniels, who helped arrange the trip. Just then Charlie Chan, a lieutenant in the Honolulu police, arrives to look for his son Jimmy, who has stowed away in search of adventure. Miss Nodbury explains to Chan that she tore the treasure map, drawn by her pirate ancestor, Black Hook Nodbury, into four pieces and mailed three of them to other passengers. She also tells Chan that Black Hook, who had a peg leg and a hook, appears to each of the Nodburys as they are about to die. After Miss Nodbury retires to her stateroom, she hears the tap of Black Hook's peg leg and the scratching of his hook on her door. The elderly woman opens the door, sees her ancestor and dies of a heart attack, after which the pirate gets her piece of the map. Meanwhile, the ship's passengers, claiming that they received a mysterious message from Steve, arrive and are introduced to Chan. They include Bill Lydig, a journalist about whom Chan is curious because he thought Lydig was dead, mortician Jed Thomasson, typist Kate Ransome and newlyweds Charles and Laura Thursday. Kate discovers Miss Nodbury's body, after which Chan finds part of the Black Hook disguise that someone wore to frighten the elderly woman to death. When Chan sends Jimmy ashore to telephone the police, the youngster overhears a suspicious conversation between Dr. Anne Bonney, a psychoanalyst, and her patient, Gene La Farge, who are both passengers on the Suva Star . Back on the ship, Gene admits that he saw Miss Nodbury's corpse but denies that he killed her. Laura and Thomasson give their pieces of the map to Chan for safekeeping, after which Jimmy finds the rest of the disguise and a map piece in Steve's room. Steve protests that he is being framed, after which it is discovered that the two map pieces Chan had were stolen. The group then finds Kate, who had fainted after reading in a magazine that Lydig is really an escaped murderer. Before Lydig can be questioned, however, he is found dead of suffocation in the diving bell below deck. Chan then goes ashore and finds Kane, who reveals that he has not met any of his passengers yet. When Chan questions the captain about his strange behavior, Kane explains that many years ago, he went on a treasure hunt to Cocos Island with his partner, but that the man left him there to die. Believing that his former partner would not be able to resist returning to the island, Kane arranged the journey so that he could find and kill the man. After Chan calls the police, Inspector Vesey arrives and arrests Steve because of the circumstantial evidence against him. Chan, who has the map piece found in Steve's room, uses himself as bait to trap the real killer. While Chan waits, Black Hook stalks him. Jimmy's signal alerts his father, and Chan captures the pirate, who is Thomasson in disguise. Kane reveals that Thomasson is his former partner, and Thomasson admits to killing Miss Nodbury and Lydig, who had stolen the map pieces from Chan's pocket. Vesey arrests Thomasson, and Chan watches in amusement when Jimmy falls into the water again, as he has been doing throughout the evening.
Charles [g.] Clarke
Harry M. Leonard
According to Hollywood Reporter news items, Jean Rogers was to appear in this film as "Laura Thursday," but was replaced after shooting began by Katharine Aldridge when she became ill with the flu. Hollywood Reporter production charts include Fay Helm in the cast, but her participation in the completed film has not been confirmed. For additional information about the series, consult the Series Index and the entry for Charlie Chan Carries On in AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1931-40; F3.0663.