Charlie Chan (Roland Winters) is traveling to Mexico City by car with number one son Lee (Keye Luke) and number two son Tommy (Victor Sen Yung). Their driver is the family chauffer Birmingham Brown (Mantan Moreland). Just outside of San Pablo they find a man in distress. He is dehydrated and delirious. They pick him up and take him into San Pablo to find a doctor.
At an outside café table are Sonia Cabot (Carol Forman), Professor John Stanley (Robert Livingston), Professor Paul Evans (Nils Asther), and Joan Farnsworth (Beverly Jons). They are discussing with the head of the San Pablo police, Captain Juan Gonzalez (George J. Lewis), an upcoming expedition they are preparing for. They are looking for two missing archeologists, Professor Henry Farnsworth (Leslie Denison) and Professor Scott (Erville Alderson). The men in the search party are fellow archeologists. Joan is Professor Farnsworth sister and Sonia is his fiancé. The missing men had been searching for the Lost Aztec Temple of the Sun.
When Chan and company arrive in San Pablo the man they rescued is identified as Professor Scott, one of the missing men. When he regains his senses he tells everyone that they found the temple and it is full of jade and gold. He also tells them that Professor Farnsworth was being held hostage. The men holding him want the Professor to decipher some hieroglyphics. He is afraid they will torture him. Before Scott can tell them anything about his captors or precisely where the temple is, the lights go out and Scott is stabbed and killed.
Chan is asked to join the investigation. He agrees. Chan and his party join the expedition looking for not only Farnsworth and the lost temple but the murderer of Professor Scott. Chan knows that whoever killed the Professor was someone in the room at the time. His list of suspects encompasses all the people who initiated the expedition. At least until they start dying as well.
“The Feathered Serpent” was released in 1948 and was directed by William Beaudine. The film is a comedy mystery. It is the 43rd of 44 Charlie Chan movies in the standard 20th Century Fox-Monogram cannon and the 5th of the 6 featuring Roland Winters as Charlie Chan as well as the 16th Charlie Chan film produced by Monogram Pictures. It is also the only film in the series in which both number one, Keye Luke, and number two, Victor Sen Yung, sons appear together.
Keye Luke, as number one son, was actually older than Roland Winters who plays his father Charlie Chan. The movie is Keye Luke’s return to the series after an absence of 11 years. His last Chan film was “Charlie Chan at Monte Carlo: 1937 with Warner Oland as Chan. He did play Lee Chan one other time, in the Mr. Moto film “Mr. Moto’s Gamble” 1938 with Peter Lorre as Mr. Moto. The film had intended to be a Charlie Chan film but Warner Oland’s death force the studio to change the script. Sidney Toler became Charlie Chan after Warner Oland’s death.
This is the last of 18 films with Victor Sen Yung playing Number two son. He was Jimmy Chan in the 20th Century Fox films and some of the earlier Monogram pictures but Tommy Chan in the later Monogram Pictures films. His first film was “Charlie Chan in Honolulu” 1938 with Sidney Toler. He replaced Keye Luke who left after Warner Oland’s death.
The plot of the film is a variation of the Three Mesquiteers movie, "Riders of the Whistling Skull." 1937. Jay Silverheels has a bit part in the film as Diego.
The feathered serpent is a feature in many Mexican films. It was a popular deity among many Mesoamerican religions. It was called Quetzalcoatl among the Aztecs, Kukulkan among the Yucatan Mayans, and Q'uq'umatz and Tohil among the K'iche' Maya. The deity has two personalities to it. The feathers represent divinity for its ability to fly into the heavens and the serpent or snake which represented human nature or the earthbound.