Cast & Crew
Anna May Wong
Gordon Cobb, world traveler and ventriloquist, is commissioned by the wealthiest and most influential man in China to transport a fortune in jewels from the Orient to the United States, where they are to be converted into cash to aid the Chinese cause. Upon arriving in New York, Cobb registers at a hotel and immediately calls Lois Ling, a Chinese National who represents her people's interest in America. Two days later, Nikki Porter, secretary to noted criminologist Ellery Queen, is visited by Sheila Cobb, the emissary's daughter, who tells Nikki that her father has disappeared and asks Ellery's help in finding him. Despite his protestations, Ellery is inveigled into accompanying the women to Cobb's hotel room, where he intercepts several porters who are removing a heavy trunk from the room. When Ellery opens the trunk, he discovers Cobb's body inside and immediately notifies his father, police inspector Queen, who arrives with Sgt. Velie. The insector learns from Harry Walsh, who oversees Cobb's business interests, that the emissary had come to New York to close a lucrative business deal. Soon after, Count Brett, a confidence man who had trailed Cobb from China, informs Walsh, who is really a gambler and international thief, that a search of Cobb's quarters has failed to unearth the jewels. When Nikki and Ellery argue over Nikki's attempts to write crime fiction, Nikki quits and goes to Shelia's apartment where she meets Sanders, a newspaperman who also followed Cobb from China. Deciding to conduct her own investigation, Nikki goes to Cobb's room and is there assaulted by Lois who has come to search for the missing jewels. After subduing Lois, Nikki calls Ellery and Inspector Queen, who takes Lois to headquarters. There, Lois explains that Cobb was instructed to deposit the jewels at the San Francisco Customs Office. A wire to the Customs Office reveals that Cobb had declared only one item, however, a jade necklace, which has vanished along with the ventriloquist's dummy. Meanwhile, Jim Ritter, a gambler attending Walsh's games, has overheard Walsh's conversation with Brett and consequently steals Brett's luggage and takes it to his own apartment. There, Ritter is confronted by Sanders. The two men struggle, and after Sanders kills Ritter, he flees, leaving the luggage behind. Ellery, on Ritter's trail, enters the apartment and finds Ritter's body and the stolen luggage. Inside a suitcase, he finds the missing dummy and the jade necklace. When cryptic messages, addressed to Cobb, begin to appear at the hotel, Ellery discerns a clue in them and inserts an ad in a Chinese newspaper, inviting all interested parties to assemble at Cobb's room the following afternoon. Among those accepting the invitation are Li Soo, Cobb's servant, Sanders, Walsh, Lois and Brett. Under questioning by the inspector and Ellery, Li Soo admits that Cobb had trusted the jewelry to him, which he deposited it in the San Francisco Customs Office. Li Soo hands the customs receipt to Ellery, who turns it over to his father. Ellery then deduces that Ritter killed Cobb when the emissary discovered him rifling his belongings. As proof, Ellery recalls the long deep scratch on Cobb's throat, made by a needle concealed in Ritter's ring. When Ellery points to the same type of scratch on Sanders, Sanders is arrested for Ritter's murder. With the murders solved, Ellery turns the case over to his father and returns to his office to complete his interrupted book.
Anna May Wong
Theodore Von Eltz
Although a Hollywood Reporter production chart places Noel Madison in the cast, his appearance in the released film has not been confirmed. This was the second picture in Columbia's "Ellery Queen" series. A novelization of this film was published in 1941; some sources erroneously list the novelization as the source of the film. For additional information on the series, please consult the Series Index and see the entry for Ellery Queen, Master Detective in AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1931-40; F3.1186.