Jack Wilson (Lon Chaney Jr.) is a colonial police detective in Southeast Asia hunting an underworld figure known as Johnny Fly (Manuel Lopez). Jack runs into an old flame, Edith Bentley (Sheila Terry) who is in town with her uncle Joe Bentley (John Ince). Bentley is a diamond merchant for a New York firm. He is there to purchase a rare Ruby called the Tear of Buddha.
Bentley excuses himself and heads back to his hotel room while Jack and Edith get reacquainted. In his room he is attacked and his money and diamonds are stolen. When Jack and Edith return to the room they find Joe on the floor unconscious. Jack recognized Johnny Fly’s MO and knows he was responsible for the attack and the theft. Edith had the ruby on her so for the moment the ruby is safe. Bentley believes the thief will make another attempt to steal the stone. Jack’s boss, Inspector Green (Richard Cramer) decides to assign men to keep an eye on things.
Undercover agent Wu Ting (Philip Ahn) is in a bar looking for clues. When Johnny hears that an undercover policeman is in the bar he has his lackey Butch Curtain (Lon Chaney Jr.) kill him. Before he dies Ting draws a picture of an eye on the ground as a clue to who his murderer was.
The next day Edith goes to the bank to put the ruby in a safety deposit box. She is kidnapped by Butch on Johnny’s orders. Now Johnny has both the ruby and Edith. Jack makes the rounds of the fences in the area looking for clues. At one establishment he sees Butch. Butch is missing one eye and that fact reminds Jack of the drawing Wu Ting tried to make. Jack hauls Butch into the precinct. Noticing that he and Butch resemble each other Jack disguises himself as the bar owner and infiltrates the criminal gang looking for Edith and the ruby.
“Scream in the Night” was made in 1935 by Commodore Pictures but there is a question on whether or not they ever released it. In 1943 Astor Pictures bought it and released it, reportedly to cash in on Chaney’s fame. It is a crime, mystery, thriller that was directed by Fred C. Newmeyer. A very low budget and a misleading title are prominent features of the film.
This is one of Chaney’s earlier films and doesn't even get top billing. He plays a double role in it. As far as acting is concerned Chaney isn’t too bad. This is well before he succumbed to alcoholism so he still had some ability in him. Sheila Terry is not too bad as the feisty Edith. Unfortunately Philip Ahn as Wu Ting gets killed off before he can make an impression. Everybody else pretty much sucks. Especially the Johnny Fly character and his moll Mora.
The film is also in rough shape, very scratchy and the sound is quite fuzzy. The film is less than an hour long and has fallen into the public domain pit so it’s available everywhere as is. It’s watchable but not really good unless you’re a Chaney Jr. fan.