Thomas Harley, an ex-convict who served time in prison eight years ago, is wrongfully arrested for a bank robbery he didn’t commit. The police have found fingerprints on the crime scene, incriminating Harley, even though he was present at the Carey Theatrical Warehouse at the time of the crime.
The policemen do not believe Harley’s explanation, partly because he claims to have been called to the warehouse by a note from an old cell mate by the name of Dave Wyatt, a man that has been dead for eight years. Subsequently, Harley is sentenced to death for the robbery. He goes off to prison to wait for his execution.
Harley’s daughter June asks private investigator Charlie Chan for help to prove her father’s innocence. Hearing about the suspicious circumstances, Chan immediately agrees to take the case.
With only 9 days before Harley’s execution, Chan starts investigating the suspicious note to Harley, and find out that it was written on a typewriter belonging to Mrs. Foss, Harley’s landlady, who often rents to ex-cons. He talks to the other tenants in the building: the poor Miss Petrie, bookkeeper Mr. Johnson, salesman Mr. Danvers and showgirl Emily Evans, whose work costume was found in warehouse near the crime scene. Curiously enough, both Danvers and Evans had been in other cities at the time of bank robberies there. When Chan, his son Tommy and the chauffeur Birmingham goes to the prison to see Harley, they are shot at. This makes Chan sure that they are on the right track and believes that the fingerprints on the crime scene must have been placed there by someone else.
When Chan looks into the other robberies he finds that the modus operandi was always the same, and the perpetrators ended up in the same prison. It also turns out the quiet Miss Petrie is married to a convict who works in the prison’s fingerprint department.
Later Miss Petrie is overrun and killed by a truck outside the warehouse, and Johnson is at the scene when Chan arrives. Chan returns to the prison to check out the fingerprint department, and discovers that someone has exchanged the print cards. Miss Petrie’s husband hears of Chan’s suspicions and attempts to escape, but is shot and wounded.
Petrie’s husband dies from his wounds, and Chan demands new prints from everyone living in Harley’s building, including Johnson. He discovers that Johnson’s prints are all over one of the print cards in the prison.
Chan returns to the warehouse again, and finds the tools used to forge fingerprints in the truck that ran Petrie over. Chan is discovered by Danver at the warehouse. It turns out Danver has killed Johnson to stop him from talking, and now he tries to kill Chan for the same reason. He fails and is arrested for all the robberies. Harley us released from prison. Chan tells Harley that June’s boyfriend Kenzie was the leader of the robbers, and that he framed Harley because he did not consent to him marrying June.
By Phil Karlson (YouTube) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons