Charlie Chan - Dark Alibi (1946) a.k.a. Charlie Chan in Alcatraz
Three former convicts have served time in States Prison together. At one time or another, each has been convicted of bank robbery based on fingerprints found at the crime scene. Charlie Chan's hunch is that the fingerprints were forgeries, and the victims were all set up by the real thief. Only one of the three is still alive, and he's just been arrested for the latest bank heist.
Sidney Toler ... Charlie Chan
Benson Fong ... Tommy Chan
Mantan Moreland ... Birmingham Brown
Teala Loring ... June Harley
George Holmes ... Hugh Kenzie
Ben Carter ... Carter
Joyce Compton ... Emily Evans
John Eldredge ... Morgan
Russell Hicks ... Warden Cameron
Tim Ryan ... Foggy
Janet Shaw ... Miss Petrie
Edward Earle ... Thomas Harley
Ray Walker ... Danvers
Milton Parsons ... Johnson
If you're keeping score, "Dark Alibi" is the eighth installment in the Monogram Studios series of Sidney Toler Charlie Chan films. Benson Fong is Number #3 Son Tommy; and after a one film hiatus (Red Dragon), Mantan Moreland is back, this time sharing equal billing with Ben Carter. The two reprise their "Pidgin" English escapades from "The Scarlet Clue" with three different conversations that are the comedic highlights of the film.
As usual, there is a lot of misdirection with the introduction of the suspects, but one good clue comes with the identity of States Prison inmate #8251 - Jimmy Slade, a fingerprint file clerk. But rather than being the master criminal, he winds up being a victim, as does his wife, known to us as Miss Petrie.
It's interesting how many times the same gimmicks are repeated in the Chan movies. Back in the 1940 film "Charlie Chan's Murder Cruise", Chan throws a coin to test the hearing of a man who claims he's hard of hearing. He does it here as well, and again uncovers the subterfuge.
As we've seen before, the mastermind behind the bank robberies and the murders is revealed at the end with no fanfare or buildup, only the convincing explanation by Charlie Chan himself. The film almost had me though, I thought the warden was in on it!
For a Monogram, this is a fast paced fun film, made even more enjoyable by the Moreland/Carter dialog. It's a good enough reason by itself to watch "Dark Alibi".
Monogram Pictures had a hit-or-miss record with the Chan series, but for fans of the characters and of Sidney Toler, Mantan Moreland and Benson Fong, "Dark Alibi" can make a rainy afternoon more enjoyable.
It was evident this series was coming to an end (as was Toler's life) in this unrealistic mystery that was held aloft by gimmicks.The comedy of Birmingham Brown (Mantan Moreland) was the only bright spot which carried this movie through to it's conclusion.Although a credible actor,Benson Fong playing Tommy Chan, is just plain flat. Tommy and Birmingham seem to have a free reign in what appears to be a maximum security prison.Much ado here about nothing.