Cast & Crew
Victor Sen Young
Simon Lafontanne, head of the Lafontanne Chemical Co., goes to consult with Chinese-American private detective Charlie Chan, as he thinks that he has an enemy who is having him followed everywhere he goes. The trouble started when he entered into a partnership with two foreigners, Henri Castanero and Theodore Von Scherbe, to ship a chemical to South America. After Chan agrees to investigate further at Lafontanne's office, Lafontanne discovers that his chauffeur has been beaten up and his car stolen. The next morning, at his office, Lafontanne's secretary René, who is also his niece, tells him that his new partners are waiting to speak with him. Castanero and Von Scherbe are concerned about the possibility of one of them dying suddenly and have added a clause to their agreement, whereby in the event of the death of any of the principals, his share will revert to the survivors. After Lafontanne signs the clause reluctantly, Oscar Swendstrom shows up at the office, brandishing a gun and claiming that Lafontanne stole his formula for the chemical. René phones police captain Pete McNally to have Swendstrom arrested, but when McNally and his assistant, Dansiger, arrive, they find Lafontanne dead in his office. Chan then shows up to keep his appointment, and the police tell him that they think Lafontanne may have died from a heart attack. Although Chan investigates and finds a shattered tube in the office radio, the police take Swendstrom in for questioning. Meanwhile, Tommy, Chan's "number two" son, and chauffeur Birmingham Brown locate Lafontanne's car. Chan looks it over and finds some cigarette ash containing traces of a Mexican bark. Later, Chan discovers that a certain sound frequency will cause the glass in radio tubes to shatter. Chan then visits Castanero, and while he is there, André Pareaux and Nita Aguirre, who have an interest in diverting the chemical shipment for their own use, arrive. Pareaux offers Chan one of his specially made cigarettes, in which Chan detects the same material he found in Lafontanne's car. Later, a letter is delivered to Castanero, which prompts him to phone McNally to report that he is in great danger. However, by the time the police arrive, Castanero is dead under circumstances similar to Lafontanne's demise. Chan investigates Pareaux and finds that he has had various aliases and is apparently after the formula. Swendstrom finally tells McNally that Von Scherbe is the murderer, then he, too, is murdered. All of the suspects in the case are invited to Chan's house. Pareaux and Aguirre, along with henchman Grock, arrive early and knock out Birmingham and Tommy, then demand information from Chan about the Lafontanne deal and the formula. In response, Chan tells them that a radio tube he is holding contains a deadly poison gas. He then plays a recording of a soprano singing a note which is of a pitch high enough to shatter the glass. Chan tells Pareaux and his associates that the gas is in the room and they panic. Tommy and Birmingham break in, but discover that there was no poison gas in the tube. McNally and his men arrive and arrest Pareaux and company, but Chan explains that it was Swendstrom who had used the gas in the tubes to kill his former business partner and who had also carried out the subsequent murders. Swendstrom's wife was in on the crimes as it was her singing voice on the radio programs that triggered the shattering of the tubes.
Victor Sen Young
George J. Lewis
James S. Burkett
W. Scott Darling
Edward J. Kay
He who takes whatever gods send with smile has learned life's hardest lesson. I, personally, find it difficult to achieve that smile.- Charlie Chan
Say, the boy has a head on his shoulders.- Capt. McNalley
Oh, yes, even melon grown in shade will ripen in the end.- Charlie Chan
Excuse interruption of music festival, please, but would mind repeating excrutiating sound made with assistance of cat intestine?"- Charlie Chan
The film's main title card reads: Charlie Chan in Docks of New Orleans. The film's working title was Charlie Chan in New Orleans. Despite the title, the docks are seen only very briefly during the credit titles. Although not acknowledged in the onscreen credits, the film's story was derived from Monogram's 1938 picture, Mr. Wong, Detective (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1931-40; F3.2930) For additional information on the "Charlie Chan" series, please see the entry for Charlie Chan Carries On in AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1931-40; F3.0663 and consult the Series Index.