I feel sure Earl Derr Biggers never wrote a story titled Dangerous Money, but here is the movie from 1946 and featuring British actor Sidney Tolar in the role as Chines detective Charlie Chan. To be sure, this is from Monogram Pictures, which produced 11 of these with Toler.
Details are from Wikipedia. Here is the cast of characters:
- Sidney Toler as Charlie Chan
- Victor Sen Yung as Jimmy Chan
- Joseph Crehan as Captain Black
- Willie Best as Chattanooga Brown
- John Harmon as Freddie Kirk
- Bruce Edwards as Harold Mayfair
- Dick Elliott as P.T. Burke
- Joseph Allen as George Brace, the Purser
- Gloria Warren as Rona Simmonds, an English tourist with a crush on the purser George Brace
- Rick Vallin as Tao Erickson
- Amira Moustafa as Laura Erickson, Tao’s wife
- Tristram Coffin as Scott Pearson
- Selmer Jackson as Ship’s Doctor
- Dudley Dickerson as Big Ben
- Rito Punay as Pete the Steward
- Emmett Vogan as Professor Martin
- Elaine Lange as Cynthia Martin, the professor’s wife
- Leslie Denison as missionary, Reverend Whipple (alias for Theodore M. Lane)
- Alan Douglas as Joe Murdock, man posing as Mrs. Whipple
And you should pay attention to that listing. It tells a lot about the story. The story begins aboard a passenger liner steaming from Honolulu to American Samoa. This is the year following the defeat of the Japanese Empire, which had made a task of seizing and occupying these and other Western Pacific islands. We see an agent of the Treasury Department, Pearson, fidgeting, waiting on the deck of the fog-bound vessel. Eventually Chan arrives, and the two converse. Pearson tells Chan he is heading to Samoa to investigate reports of a large amount of illicit American currency. He tells Chan there have been two attempts on his life while he was on the ship.
As they talk, hands of an unseen person sever a line, supposedly holding up something heavy.
Chan shoves Pearson aside as the heavy object crushes the railing where the two had been standing. Chan suggests it will be safer to talk in the lounge, where a show is in progress. We see a knife thrower impressing patrons with his skill.
But there is another knife thrower.
Pearson slumps over dead at the table, a knife in his back. Chan begins the investigation.
Everybody in the lounge is required to remain while Chan does some interviews.
Meanwhile, Chan has brought his son Jimmy and his chauffeur, Brown, along on the trip. They are destined eventually for Australia. As standard for Charlie Chan movies, the son and the chauffeur play amateur detectives. Here they attempt to trick the ship’s doctor into thinking Brown is sick, all to obtain the doctor’s fingerprints. The ruse doesn’t work.
Brown investigates further, culminating in a meeting with the ship’s cook in the galley.
Somebody is throwing knives and killing people on board the ship. Charlie wants to trap the thrower. Jimmy and Brown watch as Chan sets up a ruse.
Evil eyes peer through the blinds. He thinks he sees his target. At this point we do not know the identity of the phantom knife thrower, but this assures us he is not a young and beautiful blond.
The knife comes through the slit in the blinds and strikes the imitation Chan has set up in the chair. Foiled again. Chan had expected the knifer would first open the door and reveal himself.
Pete, the steward, is involved with Burke in a scheme to blackmail Rona. She and George Brace, the ship’s purser, are lovers. Brace has arranged for her to travel to Samoa using false papers. Her object is to recover artwork secluded during the war.
Dealings between Pete and Burke grow sour after Burke makes threats. As the ship comes withing swimming distance of anchorage, Pete jumps overboard and heads for shore. A shipmate witnesses this and throws a life ring and gives the alarm.
Amazon Video’s X-Ray feature gives viewers a heads up. When ship’s officers arrive, the life ring is still in its place on the bulkhead.
Ashore, Rona hands over a valuable necklace of hers to keep Burke quite.
Burke’s glory is short-lived. While the ship’s captain and Chan question Burke, a knife comes through the thin window shade and strikes him in the neck.
Jimmy and Brown continue their investigation. In the museum they discover artifacts stuffed with American bills. They also discover the art works Rona is seeking.
There is this, which appears twice in the movie. It’s a turtle with a light fastened to its back. This plays no part in the plot, but there it is. And the spot of light does not line up with the device’s pointing direction.
The bad guys horn in.
But Chan, the Captain and Jimmy and Brown counterattack. There is a pitched battle inside the building. Chan fires his pistol. The knifer fires knife blades from a spring-loaded launcher. They consistently miss and stick in the wooden crate.
The captain detains the knifer, Mrs. Whipple, who turns out to be a man.
This was Sidney Toler’s next to last movie role.
By the end of 1946, age and illness were affecting Toler. Diagnosed with cancer, the 72-year-old Toler was so ill during the filming of Dangerous Money (1946) and Shadows over Chinatown(1946) that he could hardly walk. Monogram hired Toler’s original foil, “Number Two Son” Victor Sen Yung, for Toler’s last three films, quite probably to ease the burden on Toler. Toler mustered enough strength to complete his last film, The Trap, which was filmed in July–August 1946 and released in November that same year. (Yung and Moreland relieved Toler of much of the action in The Trap). Toler’s Monogram output matched his Fox output: 11 films for each studio.