Castle in the Desert (1942)

Article #909 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 9-10-2003
Posting Date: 2-7-2004
Directed by Harry Lachman
Featuring Sidney Toler, Victor Sen Yung, Richard Derr

Charlie Chan receives a letter from a descendant of Lucrezia Borgia, who thinks she is being framed for murder.

I’ve covered several of the Charlie Chan movies so far, but this is the first one I’ve seen to feature Sidney Toler rather than Warner Oland. I’ve generally heard that Sidney Toler was nowhere near as popular in the role as Oland, and I have to admit that I prefer Oland as well; his performances as Chan always seemed unassuming and thoughtful, whereas Toler just seems to be uninvolved. Nevertheless, this is a fairly entertaining entry in the series, with some very funny lines on occasion, and Henry Daniell is present as one of the suspects. The fantastic elements are very slight; there are murders by crossbow, and a torture chamber is present in the castle, but other than scaring Victor Sen Yung in a couple of scenes, it really doesn’t play into the plot at all. Therefore, I have to consign this one to the realms of marginalia.

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