CASTLE IN THE DESERT. 20th Century Fox, 1942. Sidney Toler, Arleen Whelan, Richard Derr, Douglass Dumbrille, [Victor] Sen Yung. Based on the character created by Earl Derr Biggers. Director: Harry Lachman.

    A Charlie Chan movie, as you may have guessed, and the last done by 20th Century Fox. It takes place, not surprisingly, in an isolated castle in the desert, 35 miles from civilization. Its owner is a medieval historian who insists on doing his research in authentic surroundings, complete with working dungeon.

    What’s more is that his wife, as it turns out, is a descendant of the notorious Borgia family, and when guests begin mysteriously dying, Charlie is brought in. Lots of mysterious events also then begin to happen, but none of them of a substantial sort. Still, this film does contain one of my favorite sayings, even though Charlie himself didn’t come up wth it. Blame this one on his Number Two son:

    “Man who sit on tack better off.”

— Reprinted from Mystery*File #24,, August 1990. (very slightly revised).

Note:   Dan Stumpf has also reviewed the film on this blog. Check out his comments here.