The third Monogram Chan outing returns to the drawing room casework (and that familiar house set) when the famous Asian detective is pretty much blackmailed by the local police into solving his case pro bono, or else his pretty daughter will join the rest of the suspects.
Mixing a séance atmosphere into the fairly familiar storyline, "Meeting at Midnight" (originally titled "Black Magic") also makes use of Mantan Moreland as the dopey but lovable black man-servant, who keeps consulting a magic book in the hopes of disappearing from all the quirky hoodoo; it's the film's core running gag, and a prime example of the kind of roles African American actors had to settle for, until more meaningful, albeit rare, material cracked the caricature barrier in the 1950s.
MGM's transfer is fairly clean, though active compression via a pulsing background grain is evident in a few shots. The opening credits are window-boxed, and the title "Meeting at Midnight" is superimposed over the original title of 'Black Magic." A wartime plea to "80,000,000 Americans" to buy war bonds is also intact over the end credits.
The next entry in Monogram's series is "The Jade Mask."
This title is available separately or as part of The Charlie Chan Chanthology, and includes The Shanghai Cobra, The Scarlet Clue, Meeting At Midnight, The Jade Mask, The Chinese Cat and Charlie Chan In The Secret Service.
Follow-up sequels are availble in the TCM / Warner Bros. collection, including " Dark Alibi" (1946), "Dangerous Money" (1946), "The Trap" (1946), and "The Chinese Ring" (1947).
© 2004 Mark R. Hasan