“Things like this cannot happen…in Berlin.”
During a test of a new radio-controlled devise for military planes the pilot is killed, and the plane is high jacked. Charlie Chan (Warner Oland) and his No. 2 son, Charlie Junior (Layne Tom Jr.) are out fishing when Junior and Senior find the plane and the dead pilot. The murdered pilot is actually a replacement. The man who was supposed to fly the plane was Richard Masters (Allan Lane). Masters injured his shoulder, so he was replaced with another pilot. The inventor of the device is Mr. Cartwright (John Eldridge)
A grounds man scheduled to be on the runway before the plane takes off is found dead in his hotel room. Before he was killed, he had a woman visitor and made a phone call to the Royal Hawaiian Hotel. At the time Cartwright and Masters were both staying there, as well as Mr. Hopkins, the owner of the aviation company that is financing the invention. Checking passenger lists of flights to the mainland they find that Masters and a woman named Yvonne Roland (Katherine DeMille) were on a flight to San Francisco.
Masters took the flight so he could get his connection and catch the steamship Manhattan going from New York to Germany. Masters is on the team that is competing in the Summer Olympics in Berlin. Charlie’s son Lee (Keye Luke) is also on the Olympic team and is on the ship with Masters. In addition, Hopkins recognizes the name of an arms dealer, Arthur Hughes (C. Henry Gordon). Yvonne Roland is also on the ship as well. Realizing that the top-secret device is on its way to Germany, Charlie, Cartwright and Hopkins take the clipper to San Francisco, then a transcontinental flight to New York where they will take the Hindenburg to Germany. That way they will be in Berlin the same time as everyone on the steamship.
In Berlin the device is recovered but Lee gets kidnapped. The kidnappers demand that Charlie bring them the device, and no cops, if he ever wants his son back.
“Charlie Chan at the Olympics” was released in 1937 and was directed by H. Bruce Huberstone. It is the fourteenth of sixteen Charlie Chan films starring Warner Oland as the Chinese detective created by Earl Derr Biggers.
This is the only appearance of Layne Tom, Jr. as Charlie Chan's No. 2 son and name-sake Charlie Chan Junior while Warner Oland was in the role. Tom would appear with Sidney Toler in “Charlie Chan in Honolulu” 1938 as Tommy Chan and in “Charlie Chan’s Murder Cruise” 1940 as Willie Chan.
There is some interesting stock footage in the film. During the scenes with the Olympic Games, footage of the 1936 summer Olympics, including American runner Jesse Owens in the relay race, is included. Also included are some scenes of the Dirigible Hindenburg. The Hindenburg exploded and crashed May 6, 1937, two weeks before the film was released. Nazi Swastikas were removed from the stock footage of the Hindenburg and the Olympic Game footage.