As a kid, channels 5, 9 and 11, were my source for old movies and TV. I would watch hours of the Three Stooges and Abbot and Costello by myself. But I would also watch things that the older members of my family enjoyed. My Mother did not watch a ton of old movies, she liked more current shows, but the one thing I knew she would also wanted to watch were Charlie Chan films. I have no idea why, but she could be stopped cold in her tracks when Sidney Toler or Roland Winters took to the screen. I watched it with her and since then have always had affection for the movies. So I was pleased as punch to see that TCM Spotlight: Charlie Chan Collection was released on DVD and picked up a copy.
The collection consists of 4 Chan classics, 3 of them are Toler films and the 4th is a Roland Winters film. All of them are great. I think it was smart for them to include a Winters version of Chan, for those who are being exposed to these films for the first time, it offers a a different take on a classic character.
The films in this collection are: Dark Alibi (1946), Dangerous Money (1948), The Trap (1946) and The Chinese Ring (1947).
The movies look great in crisply transferred full frame black and white. Chan films might have been done on the cheap, but it always looks like they put every penny of what they had onto the screen. The sound is all in Dolby Digital mono, which keeps the movies original audio sounding authentic, but very clear. The set has nothing in the way of extras, which is disappointing, but what are you gonna do?
Charlie Chan can make some modern viewers feel uncomfortable. The films are filled with questionable stereotyping, so if you have not seen the films be prepared. That being said, these mysteries are enjoyable to watch overall. At the very least they will give you a window into an earlier time in film making, at the most they will turn you into a Chan addict, trawling through cable movie channels trying to get your next fix. Personally I am enjoying them thoroughly and hope this will lead to the remaining 7 Chan films to be released on DVD.
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