7.2/10
1,027
23 user 10 critic

Dead Men Tell (1941)

Approved | | Comedy, Crime, Mystery | 28 March 1941 (USA)
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.

Director:

Harry Lachman

Writers:

John Francis Larkin (original screenplay) (as John Larkin), Earl Derr Biggers (based on the character created by)
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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Sidney Toler ... Charlie Chan
Sheila Ryan ... Kate Ransome
Robert Weldon Robert Weldon ... Steve Daniels
Victor Sen Yung ... Jimmy Chan (as Sen Yung)
Donald Douglas ... Jed Thomasson (as Don Douglas)
Kay Aldridge ... Laura Thursday (as Katharine Aldridge)
Paul McGrath ... Mr. Parks
George Reeves ... Bill Lydig
Truman Bradley ... Capt. Kane
Ethel Griffies ... Miss Patience Nodbury
Lenita Lane ... Dr. Anne Bonney
Milton Parsons ... Gene LaFarge
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Storyline

Eccentic, elderly matron Patience Nodbury has a treasure map she's inherited from Black Hook, her pirate ancestor. To foil a mysterious thief who has tried to steal it, she divides it into four pieces, three of which she gives to fellow passengers booked to sail on the Suva Star, an old wooden sailing ship chartered for a treasure hunt on an offshore island. She is convinced that, according to family tradition, Black Hook will visit her before she dies. When the peg-legged "ghost" does just that, and she suffers a fatal heart attack, Charlie and Jimmy are faced with a boatload of red herrings including Bill Lydig, an escaped convict, Gene LaFarge, a certifiable neurotic accompanied by a personal psychiatrist, and the embittered Captain Kane, who was marooned on a deserted island by his ex-partner and vows revenge. Written by (duke1029@aol.com)

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

CHARLIE CHAN TRAPS A KILLER "GHOST"! (original poster-all caps) See more »


Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

28 March 1941 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Charlie Chan in Dead Men Tell See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Twentieth Century Fox See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (RCA Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

This movie has some interesting tie-ins to 1950s/60s TV. Sheila Ryan (Kate) was the wife of Pat Buttram, who played Mr. Haney on Green Acres. Tim Ryan (no relation, bartender) was the husband of Irene Ryan, who played Granny Clampett on The Beverly Hillbillies. George Reeves (Bill Lydig) was the star of Superman. Finally, there is Victor Sen Yung (Jimmy) who was Hop Sing on Bonanza. See more »

Goofs

When Jimmy Chan is in a tavern, while he is crouched down against a wall, a dart is thrown at a target near him. When he rises, the guide wire can be seen for the dart against his dark sweater. See more »

Quotes

Jimmy Chan: You can scare a person to death, but if you do it deliberately, that's murder.
See more »

Connections

Follows The House Without a Key (1926) See more »

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User Reviews

 
Well, it looks pretty
19 April 2009 | by MartinHaferSee all my reviews

This is a rather strange film, as the plot is amazingly unusual. While this doesn't mean the plot is great, at least it deserves kudos for being different! The film begins with Charlie coming to the docks to look for his incredibly stupid son, Tommy. In the process, however, naturally he stumbles into a murder--something he does practically all the time!! This time, however, the setting on board an old fashion sailing ship (circa 1800) and the story of a vengeful pirate ghost and a treasure map make this a weird tale indeed! As I said, it isn't a great plot--mostly because it was so contrived and tough to believe. However, it still managed to be fun.

The star of this film wasn't actually the actors but the set design and cinematography. The director had quite an artistic eye and it has to be the prettiest and best filmed Chan movie of all time. With fascinating angles, a Film Noir-like look and a creepy locale, this is a breathtaking film for film students. Just because the Chan films were relatively low budget, this time there was just a little something extra.

About the only negative, and it's a minor one, is the running gag of having Tommy fall into the harbor. Once or twice is funny--four times is simply too much.

Overall, a pretty but average Twentieth-Century Fox Charlie Chan film.


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