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Charlie Chan Collection, Vol. 3 [4 Discs] [DVD]

Release Date:08/14/2007
For the third volume of its Charlie Chan releases, FoxVideo has plunged more deeply into the history and background of the character and the actor behind the role as it was made famous -- Warner Oland -- than ever before, and with most impressive results. Indeed, the special feature accompanying Charlie Chan In Monte Carlo, entitled Charlie Chan Is Missing: The Last Days Of Warner Oland, is almost worth the price of the set -- forget the disc -- by itself, for the biography that it presents on Oland. The movies themselves -- The Black Camel (which, otherwise, has never been seen in a home viewing format, including television, until now), Charlie Chan On Broadway, Charlie Chan In Monte Carlo, and Charlie Chan's Secret -- look sensational, within the limits of the surviving materials. It's something of a mystery as to why Fox waited until the third volume of the series to issue The Black Camel, the earliest surviving one of the Oland Chan films -- but it has some of the most severe material problems (mostly overcome, within limits, here), and one supposes that they wanted to establish the high quality of the best transfers as a benchmark before aiming for the hisitorically essential material. Charlie Chan In Monte Carlo appears on a double-sided DVD -- the last of Oland's films, it is accompanined by the biographical documentary on him, while the opposite side contains Behind The Curtain, the first of the Fox films to include the Chan character. The Black Camel comes accompanied by a sterling commentary track by Ken Hanke and John Cork, who range freely across the many and varies aspects of the movie, the character, and the unusual nature of the movie itself, among the most unusual of the Chan movies. This disc also contains a featurette, "Charlie Chan's Chance: The Recreation of a Lost Chan Film, which is a fascinating effort to represent in audio terms a now-lost film in the series -- the 2007 audio performance is accompanied by stills from the original production, whichj exist in the 20th Century-Fox archives. If the commentary on The Black Camel is worth the price of admission -- and it is -- then the recreation is a phenomenally enlighting and entertaining bonus, and makes this an especially rewarding disc. (One of the actors sounds an awful lot like Lloyd Nolan who, of course, did his own detective films for Fox a few years after the Chan movies.

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    Special Features

    • Bonus movie: Behind That Curtain
    • The World of Charlie Chan featurette
    • Dr. Henry Lee: The Modern Day Charlie Chan featurette
    • Charlie Chan and the Rise of the Modern Detective featurette
    • Charlie Chan Is Missing: The Last Days of Warner Oland featurette
    • Charlie Chan's Chance, a re-creation of a lost Charlie Chan movie


    Charlie Chan at Monte Carlo
    Charlie Chan was the Jessica Fletcher of the 1930s; no matter where he took a vacation, someone got murdered! This time, the wily Chan (Warner Oland) and son Lee (Keye Luke) are on holiday in Monte Carlo when a casino messenger is killed while en route to Paris. The messenger was carrying a million dollars' worth of bonds, which passes through several hands in the course of the film. One of the prime suspects is a Chicago gangster, working incognito as the casino bartender -- at least until he's bumped off as well. The motivating factor behind all the mayhem is woman-with-a-past Virginia Field, who, though she turns out not to be the killer, is as morally guilty as the genuine culprit. Charlie Chan at Monte Carlo represented Warner Oland's final appearance as the aphorism-spouting oriental detective; he died suddenly in August of 1938, whereupon 20th Century-Fox replaced him with Sidney Toler. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

    Charlie Chan on Broadway
    In New York to attend a police testimonial in his honor, Honolulu detective Charlie Chan runs smack dab into another murder. The victim is a blackmailing nightclub singer who had listed the names of all known criminals in Manhattan in her diary. The diary disappears, and Charlie joins a glib newspaper reporter (Donald Woods) and a photojournalist (Joan Marsh) in hunting down the killer. Several false leads and red herrings later, Charlie puts the pieces together and fingers the killer--who true to form is the least likely suspect (especially for a "typical" New York murder case). Charlie Chan on Broadway represented the 15th appearance by Warner Oland as the aphorism-spouting Oriental sleuth. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

    The Black Camel
    Actress Shelah Fane (Dorothy Revier) is in Honolulu to shoot a movie, but her chaotic personal life is keeping her from concentrating on work. She's supposed to marry millionaire playboy Alan Jaynes (William Post Jr.), but she's also got an ex lurking around and a possible skeleton in her closet in the form of her one-time lover, actor Danny Mayo, who was murdered in Hollywood three years earlier in a case that's still officially unsolved. Fane seems to have resolved some of her problems and is prepared to move forward with her life -- with help from phony mystic Tarnevarro (Bela Lugosi) -- when she turns up murdered. Inspector Chan (Warner Oland) is up to his neck in possible suspects, including Tarnevarro, who was getting inside information on Fane and working some kind of scam; Fane's assistant, Julie O'Neil (Sally Eilers), who felt compelled to tamper with evidence; her would-be fiance, Jimmy Bradshaw (Robert Young), who tried to keep Julie from finding the body; Fane's oily ex (Victor Varconi); Smith (Murray Kinnell), a painter and beachcomber who was lurking around the murder scene; and two servants, Jessup (Dwight Frye) and Anna (Violet Dunn), one of whom seems very nervous. Several of these people had motive and opportunity, and the plot thickens considerably when some seemingly innocuous witnesses admit to hiding evidence, others start turning up dead, and yet others seem to be destroying evidence. Chan, juggling this list of suspects (and the thinly veiled racism of some of them) and the presence of his well-meaning but inept assistant Kashimo (Otto Yamaoka), as well as his family life, maintains his cool, cerebral demeanor throughout, despite attempts on his own life and the slang-laden yammering of his children, which the detective scarcely understands. ~ Bruce Eder, Rovi

    Charlie Chan's Secret
    A serial-like pace and some stylish directorial choices by Gordon Wiles distinguish this "Charlie Chan" entry. The reading of a will is delayed until one of the principal heirs to the fortune, can be located. He shows up at the family mansion, only to be promptly murdered. It is now up to detective Charlie Chan (Warner Oland), an old friend of the family, to protect dowager Henrietta Lowell (Henrietta Crossman), from harm. Alas, Chan apparently fails, and Henrietta falls victim to the mysterious killer -- or does she? The suspect roster includes a pair of phony mystics, an ill-tempered caretaker and a stock swindler -- but it's the least-likely suspect who proves to be the guilty party, one of several of the many surprises packed into the final reel. The appealing heroine in Charlie Chan's Secret is played by Rosina Lawrence, who later gained lasting fame as the schoolteacher in Hal Roach's Our Gang one-reelers. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

    Cast & Crew

    • Warner Oland
      Warner Oland - Charlie Chan
    • Keye Luke
      Keye Luke - Lee Chan
    • Harold Huber
      Harold Huber - French Police Inspector
    • Kay Linaker
      Kay Linaker - Joan Karnoff
    • Image coming soon
      Robert Kent - Gordon Chase

    Product images, including color, may differ from actual product appearance.