Monogram Pictures Corporation
Distributed: Monogram Pictures Corporation,
May 25, 1946
Production: Began mid-December 1945
Copyright: Monogram Pictures Corporation, March 26, 1946; LP184
Western Electric Mirrophonic Recording
Film: Black and white
Length: 5,528 feet
Running Time: 60-61 minutes
Code Administration Certificate Number: 11408
Source: Based on the character created by Earl Derr Biggers
Producer: James S. Burkett
Director: Phil Karlson
Assistant Director: Theodore Joos
Second Assistant Director: Joel Kronish (not credited)
Original Screenplay: George
Script Supervisor: Ilona Vos (not credited)
Photography: William Sickner
Assistant Cameraman: Joe Farley (not credited)
Second Camera: Al Nicklin (not credited)
Operator: Al Nicklin (not credited)
Loader: Bud Davidson (not credited)
Special Effects: Larry Glickman and Mario
Castegnaro (neither credited)
Technical Director: Dave Milton
Supervising Film Editor: Richard Currier
Set Dresser: Max Pitman (not credited)
Musical Direction: Edward J. Kay
Recording: Tom Lambert
Recorder: Dean Spencer
Mike Man: Louis Johnson
Re-recording and Effects Mixing: Joseph I. Kane (not credited)
Mixing: William H. Wilmarth (not credited)
Production Manager: Glenn Cook
Still Man: Bill Wallace (not credited)
Cable Man: H.G. Bavaird (not credited)
Prop Man: Johnny Orlando (not credited)
Second Prop Man: Al Seiger (not credited)
Grip: Harry Lewis (not credited)
Second Grip: George Carstensen (not credited)
Wardrobe Man: Harry Bourne (not credited)
Wardrobe Woman: Nanette Smith (not credited)
Gaffer: John Lee (not credited)
Electrical: M.H. Serotte (not credited)
Special Effects: Augie Lohman (not credited)
Casting - Parts: Menifee Johnstone (not credited)
Casting - Bits: Rose Alexander (not credited)
Casting - Extras: Bert Hampton (not credited)
Makeup: Harry Ross (not credited)
Hairdresser: Sandra Walters (not credited)
Sidney Toler: Charlie Chan
Mantan Moreland: Birmingham
Ben Carter: Ben Carter
Benson Fong: Tommy Chan
Teala Loring: June Harley
George Holmes: Hugh Kensey
Joyce Compton: Emily Evans
John Eldridge: Anthony R. Morgan
Russell Hicks: Warden Cameron
Tim Ryan: Foggy
Janet Shaw: Miss Petrie
Edward Earle: Thomas Harley
Ray Walker: Danvers
Milton Parsons: Johnson
Anthony Warde: Jimmy Slade
George Eldredge: Brand
Meyer Grace: Doorman
William Ruhl: Thompson (not
Frank Marlowe: Barker (not credited)
Tom Quinn: Criminologist (not credited)
Chet Brandenburg: Convict (not credited)
Matthew McCue: Convict (not credited)
When ex-convict Thomas Harley arrives at a boarding house where he lives with his daughter
June, he is arrested for robbing a bank and killing a bank guard. He claims that he was summoned to the Carey Theatrical
Warehouse by a note that sent to him by his former cell mate, Dave Wyatt, and was subsequently locked inside. The police
do not believe his alibi because Wyatt has been dead for eight years. Fingerprints belonging to Harley are found at
the crime scene, and he is put on trial, found guilty, and condemned to death.
Desperate to prove her father innocent,
June asks Charlie Chan to recommend someone who can help her and her father. Chan writes a name and address on a piece
of paper and hands it to June. The note bears Chan's name and and that of his hotel. He agrees that the case against
her father is suspect.
Together with June's boyfriend, prison guard Hugh Kensey, Chan questions Mrs. Foss, the landlady
of the boarding house, who often rents rooms to ex-convicts. It is determined that the note that was supposedly sent
to June's father by Wyatt was written on Foss' typewriter. Chan then questions the other boarders: Miss Petrie, who
works for a small salary at a social foundation; Mr. Johnson, a bookkeeper for the Carey Theatrical Warehouse; Mr. Danvers,
a bank alarm salesman; and Emily Evans, a showgirl whose costume was found at the warehouse. Both Danvers and Evans
had traveled to other cities immediately before banks in those locations were robbed.
The next day, Chan, son Tommy,
and chauffeur Birmingham Brown, drive to San Quentin Prison where Thomas Harley is awaiting his nearing execution.
On the way there, an unknown assailant shoots at them. Chan deduces that only the
persons at the boarding house knew of his plan to visit the prison that day.
Chan becomes convinced that the fingerprints
that were found at the scene of the crime were somehow forged. After studying the police reports, Chan discovers that
although a different man was convicted for each of the previous robberies, each man had been jailed at the same prison, and
the modus operandi used was identical in each case.
Miss Petrie is revealed as the wife of Jimmy Slade, a convict
trustee, who is employeed in the fingerprint bureau of the prison. When Petrie disappears, Chan, Birmingham, and Tommy
hurry to the warehouse. Outside of the warehouse they are nearly run down by a delivery
truck which then speeds off. Inside, they locate Johnson, who suspiciously feigns hearing difficulty. A little
later, Petrie is run down and killed by the same delivery truck that had earlier attempted the same on Chan and his party.
When Chan returns to the prison, he finds that the fingerprint cards have been tampered with. Slade overhears
Chan, and is mortally wounded during a futile attempt at escape when the gun he is using misfires and shoots him due to a
plugged barrel. After stating that he will not take the rap, Slade dies.
Chan then takes fingerprints of all of the borders at Mrs. Foss' boarding house, and finds Johnson's on one of the
cards from the prison's files. Returning to the warehouse, Chan finds the equipment necessary for forging fingerprints
in the back of the truck that had killed Petrie. Danvers then tries to kill Chan, as he did Johnson, to prevent him
After Harley is cleared, Chan explains that Slade had sent the prints to Johnson, who had copied them
for Danvers, who had carried out the robberies. He adds that Kensey was the leader of the gang, and when Harley had
opposed his marriage to June, the guard framed him.
NOTES: The film's working titles were
Fatal Fingerprints, Fatal Fingertips, and Charlie Chan in Alcatraz. Stock footage used in Dark
Alibi shows California's San Quentin State Prison. The opening title card reads: "Charlie Chan in 'Dark Alibi.'"
The Call Bureau Cast Service Lists Minerva Urecal as "Mrs. Foss." However, production information included in the
file on the film at the American Motion Picture Arts and Sciences library states that she was replaced by Edna Holland, who
is listed in the onscreen credits.
Adapted from: AMERICAN FILM INSTITUTE CATALOG - Within Our Gates: Ethnicity in American
Feature Films, 1911-1960
CHARLIE CHAN'S APHORISMS:
Ancient proverb say, "One small wind can raise much dust."
Honorable grandmother always
say, "Do not think of future - it come too soon."
Ugliest trade sometimes have moment of joy. Even gravedigger
know some people for whom he would do his work with extreme pleasure.
Remember old saying: "Earthquake may shatter
the rock, but sand upon which rock stood still right there in same old place."
What is my reputation compared to man's life?
Never believe nightmare no matter how real it may seem.
Accidents can happen, if planned that way.
Nothing is impossible.
Am detective, not magician.
Skeletons in closets always speak loudest to police.
Bad men leave marks wherever
No experiment is failure until last experiment is success.
Many contemptible persons in prison.
OTHER WORTHY STATEMENTS:
Government work keep me hopping like dissatisfied flea from
dog to dog.
Wish you would wear out brains instead of seat of pants. (To Birmingham
He is like tooth which has been pulled. Tooth is missing, but gap remains. From gap, we may
deduce why tooth is gone. (Regarding Thomas Harley)
Foss: "That's all I have to say.") That's what woman always say, yet go right on talking.
(Birmingham: [driving to the prison] "Mr. Chan, is this the shortest way to prison?") No,
shortest way is commit crime.
You surprise yourself, huh? Usually you surprise me. (To
At moment, I am like man trying to set clock by guess. And as time does not stand still,
perhaps better not stand still myself.
First time I hear cuckoos outside of clock. (Regarding
Tommy and Birmingham)
You will get out of here [jail cell] before they put you in a garment suitable to
your personality. (Birmingham: "What kind of garment is that?") Straight jacket.
(To Tommy and Birmingham)
Son Tommy is noisy woodpecker on family tree.
finish school - now he try to finish me. (Regarding Tommy)
For time, I nurse
theory - very excellent theory - but now, instead of nurse, I fear theory needs undertaker.
Instead of undertaker,
doctor arrive, and theory now very healthy again.
You two not afraid? (Tommy: "Afraid
of what, Pop?) You sit down so much you get concussion of brain. (To Tommy
(Tommy: "Pop, I've got a swell idea.")
Good, save it for old age.
Everything now in lap of gods. Very soon I give very hardy shove, perhaps clue fall off
You are travelling salesman. This time - no sale. (To Danvers)
THE POSSIBLE DATE OF CHARLIE CHAN'S
INVOLVEMENT IN THIS CASE: Fall 1945 (between the 8th and the 14th of some month)
DURATION: Seven days
PROBABLE LOCATIONS: Los Angeles, California and San Quentin State Prison, San Quentin, California (Located
about 20 miles north of San Francisco on San Francisco Bay)
CHARLIE CHAN'S "OLD FRIEND":
THE NAME OF THE BOARDING HOTEL:
Foss Family Hotel
THE NAME OF THE BANK THAT WAS ROBBED: Citizen's State Bank (Thomas Harley
convicted of robbing this bank)
THE NAME OF THE THEATRICAL WAREHOUSE: Carey's Theatrical
THE NOTE WRITTEN TO THOMAS HARLEY:
THE BUILDING SHOWN RELATING TO THE THOMAS HARLEY TRIAL:
The Hall of Records Building, Los Angeles, California. This building
was located next to the Los Angeles County Courthouse. It opened
in 1906 and was demolished in 1973.
THE SUPERIMPOSED STAR DISPATCH FRONT PAGE AND HEADLINE AND STORY LINE:
SECOND SUPERIMPOSED HEADLINE:
THIRD SUPERIMPOSED HEADLINE:
FORTH SUPERIMPOSED HEADLINE:
THE DATE SET FOR THOMAS HARLEY'S
EXECUTION: 17th of the month
THE TIME REMAINING UNTIL THOMAS HARLEY'S EXECUTION: Nine
THE NOTE GIVEN TO JUNE HARLEY
BY CHARLIE CHAN:
THE ABOVE NOTE, SEEN IN THE FILM, WAS ACTUALLY WRITTEN BY SIDNEY TOLER HIMSELF AS EVIDENCED
BY THE WRITING SAMPLES BELOW WHICH WERE ALSO WRITTEN BY TOLER:
CHARLIE CHAN'S HOTEL AND ROOM
NUMBER: Larchmont Hotel, Room 325. Larchmont is a small community located within the
city of Los Angeles.
THE TOWNS WHERE BANKS WERE
ROBBED: Lamont and Rordon.
Lamont is a "census-designated place" located in California's
Kern County about 100 miles north of Los Angeles and 8 miles south of Bakersfield. Rordon may have been a location in California that no longer exists.
THE NAME OF THE PERSON CONVICTED
OF ROBBING THE LAMONT BANK: Stephen Briggs
THE NAME OF THE PERSON CONVICTED OF ROBBING
THE RORDEN BANK: Stanley Grey
THE PRISON WHERE THOMAS HARLEY WAS INCARCERATED: San Quentin State Prison
THE NUMBER OF PRISONER JIMMY SLADE: 8251
THE NUMBER OF PRISONER BEN CARTER, BIRMINGHAM BROWN'S FRIEND: 1452
THE NUMBER OF PRISONER THOMAS
"FOGGY'S" CELLMATE: "Punchy"
WHOSE FINGERPRINTS WERE USED: Louis Mack, who was falsely accused of the murder of Miss Petrie
LOUIS MACK'S STATE PRISON INFORMATION CARD:
OF INTEREST, PERHAPS. A CALENDAR SEEN IN THE OFFICE OF THE THEATRICAL WAREHOUSE SHOWING
in stitches - (Idiom) Laughing uncontollably.
Danvers: "...she always leaves me in
- (Informal) Made
up evidence or contrive events so as to falsely incriminate a person.
Warden Cameron: "...our prison cards couldn't
have been used to frame these men."
needle - (Informal) To tease.
Danvers: "Always giving me the needle..."
sent up - (Idiom) Sent to prison. Short for "sent up the river."
Anthony R. Morgan: "Harley was sent
up for the bank robbery in this city."