Charlie Chan (Warner Oland) and his son Lee (Keye Luke) are enjoying a quick stop in Monte Carlo before heading off to Paris to attend an art exhibit that will include one of Lee’s paintings. While in Monte Carlo they meet the chief of police, Inspector Jules Joubert (Harold Huber). Joubert shows them around a local casino. At one of the tables are Victor Karnoff (Sidney Blackmer) and his financial rival Paul Savarin (Edward Raquello).
When it is time to leave, the taxi they were in breaks down and the Chans resort to walking. They find a car alongside the road. Inside is a dead body. The body is that of a courier that was transporting a million dollars' worth of bearer bonds for Karnoff to the airport and on to Nice. Due to a misunderstanding of the French language Charlie and Lee end up in jail until Joubert comes to the rescue.
Charlie then assists Joubert in investigating the murder. It turns out that not only is the courier dead but the body of the Karnoff chauffer is found not too far away. Charlie and Lee tell Joubert that before they found the courier, there was another car that raced by them heading back to Monte Carlo. Lee sees the same car in front of their hotel. The car is traced to Evelyn Grey (Virginia Field), a friend of Karnoff’s rival Paul Savarin. Evelyn finally admits to being on the road to Nice but that’s it.
Things get more complicated when Charlie finds out that Karnoff’s wife Joan (Kay Linaker) paid some of the bonds as blackmail to the casino’s bartender Al Rogers (George Lynn). Joan’s brother, and Karnoff’s secretary, Gordon Chase (Robert Kent), informed Joan that the bonds were being sent to Nice and the ones she stole would be noticed. Joan stole them back from Rogers and returned them to Gordon who put them back in the safe. Then when Rogers ends up dead and some of the bonds stolen from the dead courier are found in his room, the pool of suspects becomes bigger.
“Charlie Chan in Monte Carlo” was released in 1937 and was directed by Eugene Forde. It is a mystery and the last of sixteen Charlie Chan films that starred Warner Oland as Charlie Chan. Oland died less than a year after the film was done. This is also the last time that Keye Luke would play number 1 son, Lee Chan, in a Charlie Chan film until 1948 when he would reprise the role for the film “The Feathered Serpent” with Roland Winters playing Charlie Chan.
Oland was replaced by Sidney Toler who would go on to play Charlie Chan for twenty-two films for 20th Century Fox and then for Monogram. Monogram took over the production of the Charlie Chan films after Toler’s twelfth film. After Sidney Toler left the role Roland Winters took over for six more films.
Harold Huber, one of my favorite character actors, has been in dozens of films. He usually played Italians, gangsters or cops. As police inspector Jules Joubert his character is required to speak French. Fortunately, Huber was fluent in French as well as Spanish and Italian. Reportedly he could also read Latin and Sanskrit.