Dangerous Money (1946)

  • Year: 1946
  • Released: 12 Oct 1946
  • Country: United States
  • Adwords: N/A
  • IMDb: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0038449/
  • Rotten Tomatoes: https://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/dangerous_money
  • Metacritics:
  • Available in: 720p,
  • Language: English
  • MPA Rating: Approved
  • Genre: Crime, Mystery, Thriller
  • Runtime: 66 min
  • Writer: Miriam Kissinger, Earl Derr Biggers
  • Director: Terry O. Morse
  • Cast: Sidney Toler, Gloria Warren, Victor Sen Yung
  • Keywords: tiki culture, charlie chan,

Dangerous Money Storyline

A treasury agent traveling aboard a ocean liner confides to fellow passenger Charlie Chan that he’s on the trail of a counterfeiting ring operating from the South Pacific and has survived two recent attempts on his life. Chan helps him avoid a third but is helpless to prevent a knife thrown in his back in the ship’s club room. Although the ship will be docking shortly in Samoa, Charlie is confident that he will unmask the killer before then. Among the suspects are an elitist reverend and his wife, a beautiful young woman traveling with forged papers, a shady loudmouth of a salesman, a larcenous ship’s steward, and a professional knife-thrower.—duke1029@aol.com

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Dangerous Money Movie Reviews

“Good hunter never break twig under foot.”

“Dangerous Money” is an aptly named Charlie Chan film in which Sidney Toler’s character investigates a pair of murders relating to illegal trading in “hot money” and stolen art. The action takes place aboard the S.S. Newcastle heading to Australia via Samoa. Along for the ride are Number #2 Son Jimmy (Victor Sen Yung) and assistant Chattanooga Brown (Willie Best). Charlie doesn’t have much time to solve the case as he’s committed to another investigation on arrival in Sydney. Be prepared for more uncomfortable racial insinuations, as Jimmy converses with Chattanooga via walkie talkie using the code names “Chop Suey 108” and “Pork Chop 711”. Once again Chan/Toler demonstrates his dancing skill in a film; in “Red Dragon”, he cut a mean rumba, here he slows it down a bit, but still quite smoothly with a shipboard waltz.

Passenger Rona Simmonds (Gloria Warren) and ship’s pursar George Brace (Joseph Allen) are hiding a secret for which she is being blackmailed. She is traveling with false papers, smuggled on board in an attempt to identify art stolen from her banker father. International businessman P.T. Burke (Dick Elliott) uses his position to extort a valuable necklace from Simmonds, but as we’ve seen before, there is another villain masterminding the action from a loftier height. He is flushed out by Charlie in a convenient “lights out” scene intended to add to the confusion.

I have to admit, it’s difficult to follow most Charlie Chan films without keeping a personal scorecard, and even so, the revelation of the killer almost always comes as a surprise. Chan himself best expresses this in a line from the film – “Kangaroo reaches destination also by leaps and bounds”.

Charlie at sea

Dangerous Money finds Charlie Chan on a cruise ship bound for the South Seas. When treasury agent Tris Coffin makes contact with Sidney Toler for help with a case, Toler is able to foil one attempt at Coffin’s life, but he’s with him when Coffin dies as a result of a knife thrown into his back.

Around lending as much assistance as Toler can tolerate are Victor Sen Yung as number 2 son and Willie Best as Chattanooga pinch-hitting for Mantan Moreland as Birmingham. The key to this whole case is Gloria Warren playing the daughter of a Manila banker who stashed a lot of loot and art treasure to keep from the Japanese in the late war.

There is a very interesting red herring thrown into this Chan film One of the characters is a loudmouth salesman who is running all over the ship making threats, extorting people, and acting guilty as all get out. When unmasked he just turns out to be a petty crook working a small time racket. I won’t say who, but the performance might be the best one in the film.

Cheap Monogram production values, but the script and story is a good one for the Monogram Chan films made.

Hot money and flying knives

On board the S.S. Newcastle bound from Honolulu to Samoa, Charlie Chan is approached by a fellow passenger who reveals himself as Scott Pearson of the Treasure Department; he’s on a strictly secret mission concerning ‘hot’ money on the islands, but there have already been two attempts made on his life and so he asks Charlie for help. Charlie suggests that the best place to observe all the other passengers is the lounge, where a party is being held for the crossing of the Equator – but the danger comes from OUTSIDE: through the blinds of a window, a knife shoots right into Pearson’s back…

Together with Captain Black, Charlie goes through Pearson’s secret papers, where a mysterious ‘Lane’ is mentioned – but who is he?? More or less EVERYBODY on board seems suspicious in some way: loud-mouthed ‘cotton trader’ Burke, a Swedish trader called Erickson and his Samoan wife, Rona Simonds who poses as a tourist, but there seems to be something wrong with her papers, and the ship’s purser George Brace obviously covers up for her, strange ichthyologist Prof. Martin, Reverend Whipple and his ugly wife…

When they land in Samoa, things become even more complicated: we find out that Burke blackmails Rona, then that he himself also knows things he hasn’t admitted – and then more knives come flying through the air… And finally, Charlie’s favorite ‘number two son’ Jimmy and Chattanooga make a GREAT discovery!

A real treat for all fans of complicated crime movies – and a big joy for the fans of the ‘Charlie Chan’ series: Sen Yung (who’d been serving in the US Airforce Intelligence during the War!) is back again as Jimmy! Not that Benson Fong as ‘Tommy’, or the other ‘members’ of Charlie’s large family who’d played his assistants in between, hadn’t added a great lot of entertainment to the movies they’d played in; but Jimmy is – well, just Jimmy… Fresh and rash and self-confident as always, he and ever-frightened ‘Chattanooga’ Willie Best make an EXCELLENT duo here to lighten up the murderous plot!