Charlie Chan, who's just planning a little vacation with son Jimmy, gets a letter from a Mrs. Manderley, née Lucrezia Borgia (!), who summons him urgently to Manderley castle because she fears for her life... And THERE we've got a classic isolated old mansion if ever there was one: Mr. Manderley, a famous historian, has built his castle in the middle of the Mojave desert, complete with a vault full of poison bottles and Renaissance torture instruments, with no electricity and no phone - and very soon the distributor of the only car available is stolen as well, which leaves the persons present in TOTAL isolation - except for Jimmy, of course, who finds his way to the castle together with a strange old lady with spiritualistic gifts, Madame Saturnia...
And very soon it is revealed that recently, a genealogist who wanted to investigate on Mrs. Manderley's Borgia family tree (although she seems perfectly alright, her step-brother was a mad poisoner...) was poisoned in the castle - but strangely, Madame Saturnia insists that 'the finger of Isis has never touched this house'... yet...
She also warns Charlie to 'watch out for an arrow' - and very soon, arrows from an old crossbow start flying through the castle halls, dangerously near to our detective hero! And the suspects are plenty: Mrs. Manderley (who insists she didn't write the note to Charlie, and that her step-brother is dead; another thing Madame Saturnia denies vehemently...), Mr. Manderley, who wears a mask over one side of his face (a result of an accident, he explains), Dr. Retling, whose death certificate for the genealogist is being questioned by private eye Fletcher, Mr. Hartford, Manderley's attorney, who together with his wife seems to be seeking to take control of the Manderley fortune, and sculptor Watson King, who reveals himself as yet another private detective hired by Mrs. Manderley... Make your choice!
The creepy atmosphere of the old castle of course makes this entry in the 'Charlie Chan' series another immensely entertaining whodunit; and the cast is also superb: apart from distinguished British star Henry Daniell as Watson King and Douglas Dumbrille as Manderley, we also meet again with some of the cast members of that magnificent Charlie Chan movie "Dead Men Tell" from the previous year: Milton Parsons, Lenita Lane - and Ethel Griffies, giving once again a FORMIDABLE performance as the mysterious Madame Saturnia. Jimmy as always adds lots of fun, disguised in a medieval armor - a great mystery movie that shouldn't be missed by any fan of the genre!
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