My Mother was an old film buff. While it was never difficult to get her to see a new film, she would always be on the lookout for a classic film on TV. Before we got cable that usually meant a late night movie or weekend afternoon film on network TV or trawling the local networks for movie gold. Since we were lucky to live near a lot of TV transmitters, we had a pretty decent selection. One of her favorite characters was Charlie Chan. I never asked her why or when she became fixated on this clever detective and the books and movies about him, but she just adored him.
So anytime Charlie Chan was on, I would dutifully take my place next to her and we would watch. I fell in love with Chan and I have since read the Earl Derr Biggers books and have been collecting the films as they came out on DVD. One big hole in my collections was just filled because Warner Bros just released the ambiguously named “Charlie Chan Collection” on DVD. This box set consists of four titles on four disks and they are good ones. You get Shadows Over Chinatown starring Sidney Toler, The Docks Of New Orleans, Shanghai Chest, and The Golden Eye all starring Roland Winters, 1948
I had a little movie marathon this weekend and they all look very sharp and sound great. I am not sure of the source of the transfer, but I have nothing to complain about. Part of the reason for this lack of complaints is because I am just so excited to own them (although the other part is that they DO look good).
Now I was looking online and through what I own and I believe this leaves three films yet to be released, all of them Roland Winters films: The Chinese Ring, The Feathered Serpent and The Sky Dragon. I really hope that this set will be successful and that those 3 will quickly follow.
About The Release (from WB):
Warner Bros. Home Entertainment brings back the legendary master of crime in the Charlie Chan Collection — four beloved films making their DVD debut, and now available for the first time, newly remastered, as a single collection. Included are Shadows Over Chinatown, starring Sidney Toler in one of his last Chan films, plus Docks of New Orleans, Shanghai Chest, and The Golden Eye starring Roland Winters, the last actor to play the detective on film. The 4-disc set will sell for $39.92 SRP. Order due date is July 2.
Writer Earl Derr Biggers created Charlie Chan, a fictional Chinese-American sleuth, in a series of printed tales beginning in 1923. As early as 1926, the first of more than 48 Charlie Chan films was put on the silver screen. Actor Warner Oland, born in Sweden, began a popular run for Fox in 1931 in Charlie Chan Carries On. After its success, Fox would produce 15 more Chan films starring Oland. Not surprisingly, the films became the most popular in 1930s China.
After Oland died, Sidney Toler, an American actor with Scottish roots, took on the Chan role. Toler starred in 22 Chan films, first for Fox and later for Monogram Studios. After Toler’s death, Roland Winters became Chan in six more films. The character has also been featured frequently on radio, television and in the comics.