7.6/10
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Castle in the Desert (1942)

Charlie Chan investigates apparent poisonings at a mystery mansion in the Mojave Desert.

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(original screenplay) (as John Larkin), (character)
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Cast

Complete credited cast:
...
...
...
Carl Detheridge
...
Paul Manderley (as Douglas Dumbrille)
...
...
Walter Hartford
...
Jimmy Chan (as Sen Yung)
...
Lucy Manderley
...
...
Arthur Fletcher
...
Dr. Retling (as Steve Geray)
...
Gleason
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Storyline

Paul Manderley, eccentric historian, and his wife, descendant of the Borgias, live in an isolated castle-like mansion in the Mojave Desert. When a guest suddenly collapses, Charlie Chan is invited to stay. As the standard mystery-mansion props come into play, and all means of outside communication are sabotaged, it becomes evident that one of the inhabitants has access to poisons and is prepared to use them... Written by Rod Crawford <puffinus@u.washington.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

...a poison arrow whizzes past... as Charlie Chan opens the gate to his most baffling adventure!


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Details

Country:

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Release Date:

27 February 1942 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Charlie Chan in Castle in the Desert  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Mirrophonic Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The castle interior recycled the still-standing set from the first Basil Rathbone entry in the Sherlock Holmes series, "The Hound of the Baskervilles." See more »

Goofs

The supposed statue of a Medieval executioner sways momentarily, revealing the statue as an actor. See more »

Quotes

Charlie Chan: Your name is?
Watson King: [With disdain] Watson King. I specialize in minding my own business.
Charlie Chan: Very lonely pasttime.
See more »

Connections

Followed by The New Adventures of Charlie Chan (1957) See more »

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User Reviews

Entertaining Murder Mystery
21 September 2003 | by See all my reviews

I caught this movie on the FOX MOVIE CHANNEL which had pulled it's CHARLIE CHAN month long marathon due to protests from Asian Americans. FMC resumed showing the Chan movies in September, bookending the movies with discussions by prominent Asian-Americans inluding George (Mr. Sulu)Takei who explored the racial issues of the movies.

I respect the discomfort and resentment the CHARLIE CHAN movies cause Asian Americans and there are some blatantly racial comments in this movie. There's a part where Charlie enters a hotel to await a car and the hotel manager takes one look at him and says; "Chop Suey salesman, eh? I hate the stuff!" that frankly made me cringe. But these movies have a historical value beyond simple entertainment. They remind us of how we once acted and thought of other races and other people. Even though Charlie Chan is a respected and internationally famous detective, he is still based on his appearance and skin color. Maybe we haven't come so far since this movie was made.

Taken strictly as entertainment, though, CASTLE IN THE DESERT is a nifty murder mystery with an eccentric cast of characters trapped in a remote location with a murderer running around loose. One character is a descendant of Lucrezia Borgia. Another is a fortune teller whose predictions actually DO come true. Charlie Chan and Number 2 son do a great job of finding the true murderer and putting things aright. The plot is perhaps more complicated than it needs to be but that's the great thing about those 30's/40's murder mysteries: it wasn't that easy to guess who was the killer. Despite the unplesant racial remarks, CASTLE IN THE DESERT is a fine entry in the CHARLIE CHAN series. I enjoyed it a lot. Lots of humor and sharp, witty dialog and great atmospheric sets.


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