DARK ALIBI. Monogram Pictures, 1946. Also released as Charlie Chan in Alcatraz, Fatal Fingerprints and Fatal Fingertips. Sidney Toler as Charlie Chan, Benson Fong as Tommy Chan, Mantan Moreland as Birmingham Brown, Ben Carter as Benjamin Brown, Teala Loring, George Holmes, Joyce Compton, John Eldredge. Based on the character created by Earl Derr Biggers. Director: Phil Karlson. Currently streaming on Amazon Prime Video.

   Charlie Chan is hired in this film by a public defender whose client has been convicted of a murder which happened during a bank robbery. He is scheduled to be executed in ten days, which doesn’t give Charlie, his son Tommy, and his chauffeur Birmingham Brown much time to save him. The damning evidence is the man’s fingerprints at the scene of the crime, even though he swears he was never there.

   The actual detective work takes up maybe 30 minutes of the just over an hour of running time. The rest is all comedy, with Tommy and Birmingham clowning it up together or long portions featuring the latter alone. The suspects all live together in the same rooming house, which makes questioning them very easy. The other major setting is that of a large warehouse filled with what looks like old leftover sets and other spooky material, especially in the dark.

   It is clear from the beginning that the crux of the case is finding out how the criminals were able to leave false fingerprints. I don’t know how, but I fingered the key villain immediately. Maybe he/she was obvious, but I still call it a Good One for me.

   But I can’t end this review here before telling you that Mantan Moreland and Ben Carter do what’s called their “indefinite” routine (*) twice, wherein both men carry on a lengthy conversation with neither one ever quite completing any of their sentences. What’s more they do it again a third time at the end with Charlie himself taking part, leaving son Tommy simply scratching his head.

(*) Changed from “infinite” routine, which is incorrect. See comment 6.