Distributed: Monogram Pictures Corporation, December 19, 1948
Production: Late September to early October 1948
Copyright: Monogram Pictures Corporation, January 9, 1949; LP2171
Sound: Western Electric Recording
Film: Black and white
Running Time: 60 minutes
Source: Based on the character created by Earl Derr Biggers
Director: William Beaudine
Assistant Director: William Calihan
Story and Screenplay: Oliver Drake
Additional Dialog: Hal Collins (not credited)
Photography: William Sickner
Camera Operator: John Martin (not credited)
Stills: Eddie Jones (not credited)
Gaffer: Lloyd Garnell (not credited)
Special Effects: Ray Mercer
Technical Director: David Milton
Supervising Film Editor: Otho Lovering
Editor: Ace Herman
Set Decorations: Ray Boltz (not credited)
Musical Director: Edward j. Kay
Recording: Tom Lambert
Makeup: Webb Overlander (not credited)
Production Manager: Allen K. Wood
Screenplay Supervisor: Ilona Vas (not credited)
Grip: Harry lewis (not credited)
Roland Winters: Charlie Chan
Keye Luke: Lee Chan
Mantan Moreland: Birmingham Brown
Victor Sen Yung: Tommy Chan
Carol Forman: Sonia Cabot
Robert Livingston: [Professor] John Stanley
Nils Asther: Professor Paul Evans
Beverly Jons: Joan Farnsworth
Martin Garralaga: Pedro [Francisco Lopez]
George J. Lewis: Captain Juan Gonzalez
Leslie Dennison: Professor [Henry] Farnsworth
Charles Stevens: Manuel
Charlie Chan, who is on his way to Mexico City for a vacation with two of his sons, Number One Son, Lee and Number Two Son, Tommy plus chauffeur and “associate” Birmingham Brown, finds Professor Scott delirious as he collapses in a field near the road to San Pablo.
Later, in San Pablo, Scott explains that after he and Farnsworth had found the temple, they were held as hostages and were forced to unearth a fortune in Aztec jade and gold. However, before Scott can name his captor, the lights go out and he is murdered with a knife.
A search party is organized out to look for Farnsworth and the lost temple. The group includes Farnsworth’s sister, Joan, who is also his heir; her fiancé, archeologist John Stanley; Farnsworth’s fiancé, Sonia Cabot; and archeologist Professor Paul Evans. While Chan discusses the case with Captain Gonzales, a figure, spotted by Lee, attempts to shoot a poison dart through the window. Lee runs out to catch the man, an Aztec Indian, who flees into the night.
The next day, Chan, his sons, and Birmingham join the expedition, which camps at the foot of the Diablo Mountains, not too far from San Pablo. The plan of the search party is to look for a stone containing hieroglyphics that Scott had said will lead them to the secret entrance to the lost temple where they will hopefully find Professor Farnsworth.
While on night watch, Birmingham sees an Indian named Manuel leaving the camp, and Chan and Lee follow him. Meanwhile, Stanley sneaks out of the camp and goes to the temple where Farnsworth is being held hostage in order to unearth the tomb of an ancient Aztec king that contains a fortune in treasure. Stanley orders his henchman, Diego, to kill Chan. However, Diego, who is about to throw a knife at the detective, is shot dead by Pedro, the camp cook, who reveals to Chan that he is actually an agent of the Mexican secret service who has been following the detective. Chan removes Diego’s wig, showing that he is not an Aztec Indian, but an American disguised in order to cast suspicion on the Indians.
Stanley, meanwhile, threatens to kill Joan Farnsworth and Sonia Cabot if Professor Farnsworth does not cooperate in deciphering the hieroglyphics that will lead to the discovery of the Aztec king’s tomb.
After Sonia is killed in camp with Professor Evans’ knife, two search parties go out. Chan’s sons locate the rock containing the directions to the temple, but they cannot figure out how to enter it. When Birmingham inadvertently sits on a rock that triggers the mechanism that opens the door to the tomb, he is grabbed and pulled inside by Farnsworth’s henchmen. Lee and Tommy soon discover that he has disappeared.
Stanley, who had been leading one of the search groups, suddenly holds Joan and a Mexican guide named Jose at gunpoint and forces them to enter the temple, where Jose is shot by Manuel.
Chan and his sons finally realize that the rock, which is marked by a symbol of a feathered serpent, is the temple’s entrance, and they enter with Pedro. Once inside, they knock out Stanley, then Chan explains that Stanley had killed Sonia because she had been helping him to smuggle Aztec treasures out of Mexico and he wanted to silence her.
Chan and his traveling companions now prepare to continue their journey to Mexico City. While the detective is amused to hear that the police there are in need of his help in another murder case, Birmingham Brown is not so happy with the news.
CHARLIE CHAN’S APHORISMS:
Sometimes human tissue tell more than human lips.
Very difficult to estimate depth of well by size of bucket.
Guilty conscience always first to speak up.
Hunch not sufficient evidence to convince jury of guilt.
Sleep sometime very difficult thing.
Innocence or guilt must be decided by proper parties.
Birmingham author of two brilliant statements in one breath. Perhaps better save breath – might come in handy later on. (To Birmingham Brown)
As detective, number one son very excellent airplane pilot. (To Captain Gonzalez)
Number one son very clever now and then – mostly then. (To Lee)
If anyone find out that we are gone, you know nothing. Pardon me – understatement. (To Birmingham Brown)
Number one son very clever and very consistent – wrong again. (To Lee)
Number two son now see picture very clearly when hung directly before his eyes. (To Tommy)
LEE CHAN’S “CHANISMS”:
Confucius reminds us…that only children and fools open their mouths when they have nothing to say.
Confucius reminds us…that he who fights and runs away… (Birmingham Brown: “…will live to run another day.”)
TOMMY CHAN’S “CHANISM”:
Confucius say, “He who lives in fear, lives longest.”
ya no puede caminar;
porque no tiene, porque la falta
marijuana que fumar.
Ya murio la cucaracha,
ya la llevan a enterrar,
entre cuatro zopilotes
y un raton de sacristan.
Con las barbas de Carranza,
voy a hacer una toquilla,
que ponersela al sombrero
de su padre Pancho Villa.
Un panadero fue a misa,
no encontrando que rezar,
le pidio a la Virgen pura,
marijuana que fumar.
Una cosa me la risa:
Pancho Villa sin camisa;
ya se van los carrancistas
porque vienen los villistas.
Para sarapes, Saltillo;
Chihuahua para soldados;
para mujeres, Jalisco;
para amar, toditos lados.
LOCATIONS: San Pablo, Mexico. There are a number of towns and locations throughout Mexico named San Pablo, however a good possible candidate would be the village San Pablo located in Mexico’s state of Guanajuato. San Pablo, Guanajuato is located about 250 miles northwest of Mexico City, the stated destination of Charlie Chan, and is near to the Sierra de Puruagua mountains, thus fairly matching the terrain seen in the film.
THE NAME OF THE SONG SUNG BY PEDRO FRANCISCO LOPEZ: “Ceilito Lindo”
THE LICENSE PLATE NUMBER OF CHARLIE CHAN’S CAR: 15 27 57 (probably California plates)
THE NAME OF THE MEXICAN VILLAGE MENTIONED BY CAPTAIN GONZALEZ: Borana
THE NAME OF THE MAN SENT BY CAPTAIN GONZALEZ TO FIND A DOCTOR: Felipe
THE NAME OF THE RIVER IN MEXICO MENTIONED BY CAPTAIN GONZALEZ: Rio Ondo
THE PLANNED DESTINATION OF CHARLIE CHAN AND HIS PARTY: Mexico City, Mexico
ACCORDING TO CHARLIE CHAN, THE LOCATION OF THE SPOT WHERE HE AND HIS PARTY FOUND PROFESSOR SCOTT: “About three miles north of here (San Pablo).”
THE CONTENTS OF THE TEMPLE ACCORDING TO PROFESSOR SCOTT: “Fortunes of jade and gold.”
THE LOCATION OF THE TEMPLE ACCORDING TO PROFESSOR SCOTT: “South of here (San Pablo) at the foot of the Diablo Mountains.”
THE TYPE OF KNIFE USED TO KILL PROFESSOR SCOTT: An Aztec sacrificial knife
ACCORDING TO CHARLIE CHAN, THE LENGTH OF TIME REQUIRED “UNDER (CALIFORNIA?) STATE LAWS” TO DECLARE A MISSING PERSON AS DEAD: “…heir must wait seven years before can collect money.”
THE MEXICAN HELPERS ON THE RESCUE EXPEDITION AND THEIR JOBS:
Felipe and Jose – In charge of the truck (chosen by Prof. Stanley)
Pedro – Cook
THE NAME OF THE AZTEC KING ENTOMBED IN THE TEMPLE OF THE SUN: Kanak
THE NAME OF THE PERSON WHO TRIED TO KILL CHARLIE CHAN IN BOTH SAN PABLO AND NEAR THE AZTEC TEMPLE: Diego
THE NAMES OF THE UNDERCOVER OFFICERS WORKING WITH LOPEZ: Felipe and Jose
THE CLUE THAT LED CHARLIE CHAN TO DEDUCE THAT DIEGO WAS NOT AN INDIAN: Grey eyes (Chan: “All members of (Indian) race have black eyes.”)
THE NAME OF THE AZTEC GOD REPRESENTED BY A PROMINANT STATUE FOUND IN THE TEMPLE OF THE SUN: Kukutan (Kukulcan)
THE LOCATION IN NEW YORK CITY MENTIONED BY BIRMINGHAM BROWN AS BEING PREFERABLE TO HIS PRESENT WHEREABOUTS: “125th Street and 8th Avenue (in Harlem)”