Saturday, July 31, 2004

Off-Stage With Nedda Harrigan

"Nedda Harrigan Logan is the daughter of actor, playwright, songwriter, director, producer and theatre owner, Edward Harrigan. Mr Harriganwas so famous in his day that he was considered a bona fide New York City landmark. A New England guidebook in the 1880s wrote that 'A visit to New York would be as incomplete to the countryman if he did not see Harrigan and Hart as if he had by some strange mistake missed going to Central Park." (THE MERRY PARTNERS,
By E.j. Kahn, Jr., pg. 6.)

"Nedda was the youngest of ten in a very boisterous Irish Catholic family. She became an actress at age fifteen and performed in various stock companies that would put on a new play every week, fifty-two weeks of the year. Among the plays she appeared in on Broadway were the original 1927 production of DRACULA, staring Bela Lugosi and Ayn Rand's 1934 court room drama, THE NIGHT OF JANUARY 16th.

"In the mid-1920's Nedda married the great character actor, Walter Connolly. They had one child, a daughter, Ann. They resided in Beverly Hills, California because Mr. Connnolly was under contract to Columbia Pictures. . . .

"When Mr. Connonlly passed away in 1940, Nedda returned to New York City. On a fateful day, while she was waiting for an appointment in a casting director's office, Joshua Logan happened by and saw her sitting there. He fell instantly in love with her and cast her in his Broadway revival of CHARLIE'S AUNT, starring Jose Ferrer. From 1940 until Josh's passing in 1988, they were never parted. They married in 1945.

"Nedda became the first and only woman (so far) president of The Actor's Fund of America. It was an organization close to her heart because her father, Edward Harrigan, was one of its founders. If it was a Thursday and Nedda was in New York, she'd be at the weekly Board of Directors meeting at the Fund. She helped raise millions of dollars for it and was instrumental in getting a retirement home built in New Jersey for people in the theatrical community.

"From the moment she met Joshua Logan, he became her number one priority. He did his most dazzling creative work under her loving care. She was his confidante, best friend and partner in every respect. After they married, Nedda gave up acting. She said she 'didn't want to be an actress married to a director who was always looking for a part in every script that came his way.'

"She was an extraodinary wife to Josh, a deeply caring mother . . . and always cherishing of her friends."

Nedda Harrigan made only 14 movies from 1929 to 1940 but made a
big impact on the mystery genre with three of them:

As Louise DeVoe in The Case of the Black Cat (PerryMason/1936)

As Mme. Anita Borelli in Charlie Chan at the Opera (1936)

As Madam Tchernov in Thank You, Mr. Moto (1937)

Friday, July 30, 2004

The Chan Hall of Fame for Charlie Chan at the Opera

The Chan Hall of Fame is for actors who have appeared in two or more of the Charlie Chan films--some to memorable effect!

BECK, Thomas
Victor Descartes in Charlie Chan in Paris
Tom Evans in Charlie Chan in Egypt
Bruce Rogers in Charlie Chan at the Race Track
Phil Childers in Charlie Chan at the Opera

Murdered Orderly in Charlie Chan at the Opera
Ludwig in Charlie Chan in Monte Carlo

Backstage Cop (who shoots Gravelle) in Charlie Chan at the Opera
New York Policeman in Charlie Chan at the Olympics
Line-up Officer in Charlie Chan in Reno
Bailiff in Charlie Chan at the Wax Museum
Fingerprint Expert in Murder Over New York

Mr. Lansing in Charlie Chan at the Race Track
Hudson, Wire-photo technician at Charlie Chan at the Opera

Beetham's Manservant in Behind That Curtain
Gravelle in Charlie Chan at the Opera

Dugan, Policeman, in Charlie Chan at the Opera
Reno Desk Sergeant in Charlie Chan in Reno
Lead Detective, With bushy eyebrows in cab and at theatre in Charlie Chan at Treasure Island

Track Official in Charlie Chan at the Race Track
Unidentified (Script name: Morris) in Charlie Chan at the Opera

Sanatarium Guard in Charlie Chan at the Opera
Cop in Charlie Chan at the Olympics
Cop in Charlie Chan on Broadway

President of Shanghai Camber of Commerce in Charlie Chan in Shanghai
Inspector Regan in Charlie Chan at the Opera

Agnes in Charlie Chan at the Opera
Mrs. Joe Rocke in Charlie Chan at the Wax Museum

VOGAN, Emmett
Smitty, Wire-photo techician, in Charlie Chan at the Opera
Ship's Officer in Charlie Chan at the Olympics
Hotel Manager in Charlie Chan's Murder Cruise

Solo Dancer in Charlie Chan at the Opera
Marie Collins in Charlie Chan on Broadway
Leah Manning in Charlie Chan's The Chinese Cat

Wednesday, July 28, 2004

Charlie Chan at the Opera Cast of Characters

You can't tell your characters without a probram!

Warner Oland: Charlie Chan
Boris Karloff: Gravelle
Keye Luke: Lee Chan
William Demarest: Sergeant Kelly
Guy Usher: Inspector Regan
Margaret Irving: Mme. Lillie Rochelle
Gregory Gaye: Enrico Borelli
Nedda Harrigan: Mme. Anita Borelli
Frank Conroy: Mr. Whitely
Charlotte Henry: Kitty Rochelle
Thomas Beck: Phil Childers
Maurice Cass: Mr. Arnold
Tom McGuire: Unidentified (Script Name: Morris)
John Bleifer: Murdered Orderly
Stanely Blystone: Backstage Cop (shoots Gravelle)
Benson Fong: Opera Extra
Harrison Greene: Bit
Selmer Jackson: Hudson, wire-photo technician
Gladden Jones: Secretary
Fred Kelsey: Dugan, Policeman
Lee Shumway: Sanatarium Guard
Hilda Vaughn: Agnes
Emmett Vogan: Smitty, Wire-photo Technician
Joan Woodbury: Solo Dancer

Lee Chan on a Tear in Charlie Chan at the Opera

When Lee goes down through the trap door after Gravelle, he faces the stage area like he's going down a staircase.

In the next shot, viewed from below, he's at a 90-degree angle from the previous shot and coming down a ladder.

The Charlie Chan Dictionary for Charlie Chan at the Opera

This week is another entry into our Charlie Chan dictionary, from Charlie Chan at the Opera, taken from Rush Glick's extensive notes on his website--Always with our thanks, Rush!!

ARIA: (1) A solo vocal piece with an instrumental accompaniment, as in opera. (2) An air; a melody.
(Charlie Chan: "Much applause tonight after beautiful aria.")
BARITONE: A male singer or voice with a range higher than a bass and lower than a tenor.
CHAISE LONGUE: (French: long chair; pronounced like "chase long") An elongated seat or couch with a support for the back at one end and a seat long enough to support the legs and feet. [It can be made so the lower half can separate like an ottoman.]
(Whitley: "I laid her on the chaise longue.")
HAM (slang): A performer who overacts or exaggerates.
(Sgt. Kelly: "None of you hams are leaving the theatre until this thing is cleared up.")
PRIMA DONNA: (1) The leading woman soloist in an opera company. (2) A tempermental, conceited person.
SOUP AND FISH (slang): A tuxedo or other men's evening wear. The earliest citation for "soup and fish" in the Oxford English Dictionary comes from a P.G. Wodehouse in 1918, but it may be assumed that the phrase was in common usage for some time, probably since the 19th century, before Wodehouse invoked it.
(Charlie Chan: "Please, do not need soup and fish.")
TELETYPE: Trade name of a device that can send typed messages over telephone lines to a receiving device.

Tuesday, July 27, 2004

Chan Movies Coming up in August

Rush Glick has announced the Chan movies for his Chat Room
in August.  There's always room  for more people so . . . y'all, come!
2--Charlie Chan at the Opera
9--The Shanghai Cobra
23--Murder Cruise
30--Sky Dragon

Monday, July 26, 2004

Once and Future Kings

Charlie Chan movie watchers quickly learn the importance of character actors and bit people. ("Bit people"--interesting term--doesn't that sound like a class of folks who just can't wait to be bit?!?!--)

Each of us can pick our personal favorites from the main casts of our mystery series to actors who pop up in more than one Chan movie and then we have those who only appear once, either early in their carreer or later.

In The Feathered Serpent, we have two different examples: One is Nils Asther, who was born in Copenhagen, Denmark in 1897. His career was on the way out, having acted against such actress as Greta Garbo.

He left for Europe to make war stories and ended up driving trucks in his country!

Asther had played parts like General Yen in THE BITTER TEA OF GENERAL YEN (1933) and as Agor Singe in THE NIGHT MONSTER before turning to THE FEATHERED SERPENT.

Where Nils Asther had his glory days behind him, Jay Silverheels took off after his appearing with Charlie Chan to new heights later as Tonto to Clayton Moore's Lone Ranger.

Ironically, he had been born Harold J. Smith with a Mohawk Chief father on a Canadian reservation.

Silverheels was well-trained to become a stunt man in 1938, having played both boxing and lacrosse.

He would meet his match in Clayton Moore in 1949 when they appeared together in The Cowboy and the Indian. They rode into Lone Ranger history together from there.

Jay Silverheels would stay stereotyped as Tonto, but remained a beloved friend to at least one generation of kids who still think of him as one of their heros, along with that masked man!

Charlie Chan had to be pleased that Jay Silverheels was one actor who liked continuing a good thing: Working only with the best!

Sunday, July 25, 2004

The Charlie Chan Hall of Fame of Character Actors

One of the joys of watching Charlie Chan for many of us is looking for actors that show up in more than one Chan film.
So today is a new feature to celebrate these frequently unheralded actors and the Chan movies that they've been in!
DENISON, Leslie:
Rice (the butler) in Charlie Chan in Rio
Professor Henry Farnsworth in The Feathered Serpent
FORMAN, Carol:
Nita Aguierre (aka Countess Allemand) in Docks of New Orleans
Sonia Cabot in The Feathered Serpent
John Ross (Jim Mena) in ERAN TRECE
Paul Arranto in Charlie Chan in Secret Service (as George Lewis)
Pedro Lopez in The Feathered Serpent
LEWIS, George J.:
Dansiger in Docks of New Orleans
Captain Juan Gonzalez in The Feathered Serpent
STEVENS, Charles:
Fisherman/Cameraman Spy in Charlie Chan in Panama
Manuel (thug leader) in The Feathered Serpent

Saturday, July 24, 2004

A Cast Addition

A suggestion has been made that I point out that The Feathered Serpent was Keye Luke's first appearence since he was with his Pop in Monte Carlo.
This was also the first of two movies that Luke did with Roland Winters as Charlie Chan.  (The other one being Sky Dragon.)  There has also been talk that Monogram might take the  Chan movies (with both Winters and Luke) to England because filming there was cheaper.
Unfortunately, the movies were never made, leaving Chan fans everywhere  wondering . . . what if . . . ?

The Cast for The Feathered Serpent

Here's the list of the cast to make
watching more enjoyable!
Roland Winters:  Charlie Chan
Mantan Moreland:  Birmingham Brown
Keye Luke:  Lee Chan
Victor Sen Yung:  Tommy Chan
Robert Livingston:  Professor John Stanley
Beverly Jons:  Joan Farnsworth
Martin Garralaga:  Pedro Lopez
George J. Lewis:  Captain Juan Gonzalez
Charles Stevens:  Manuel (thug leader)
Nils Asther:  Professor Paul Evans
Carol Forman:  Sonia Cabot
Leslie Denison:  Professor Henry Farnsworth
Erville Anderson:  Professor Scott
Jay Silverheels:  Diego (thug with knife)
Fred Cordova:  Felipe (undercover agent)
Juan Duval:  Dr. Castalare
Frank Leyva:  Jose (undercover agent)
Milton Ross:  Pete (a thug)

Friday, July 23, 2004

To Bloop or Not To Bloop?

One of the many pleasures of watching Charlie Chan is deciding how to do it!
So many ways . . . so many movies . . . so little time!
Among other decisions is to whether to watch for technical details or not.
This actually became a sticking point for me when I was watching movies as a child.  (I have carpenters on both sides of my family and remember my father building his own boat.)  The architecture was way off but nobody else noticed.
How many houses have you seen that had rooms with corners that were more than 90 degree angles?!  Not to mention a fourth wall that was virtually non-existant?  Howard Huges was brilliant and clearly could make millions of dollars to buy his own studio but never understood where the "fourth wall" was!
It wasn't a stretch for me to start noticing things like the actors would change positions and stand closer in close-ups then they did for long shots or what the word "continuity" meant.  Or, rather, didn't mean in some cases!
So I started questions.  Sometimes I got answers that I found out had a name besides plain old mistakes that we have all come to know and love to varying degrees:  Bloopers.
So I started watching The Feathered Serpent.  Yep, I came up with a few questions.
One incident turned out to be standard operating procedure even today.  Professor Stanley is murdered early in the film with a knife in his back.  I wondered, looked and, yes, I was right.  The knife wasn't his back.  If you looked carefully you would see the knife sticking into a block of wood between his shirt and back.  A blooper?  Maybe not but a technical detail, surely, for those who know to look for it.
I started wondering again when the Chans started on their expedition.  Did Lee and Tommy bring their camping clothes with them or get them locally?  If they brought them, where were Charlie's and Birmingham's?  Was Birmingham stuck as chauffeur in his uniform?  If Tommy and Lee didn't bring their camping clothes, was there a fully-equipped camping store in San Pablo?!
That night, did Birmhingham quit helping wash the dishes twice or did it just look like he tried twice?!
Fortunately, The Feathered Serpent only had a handfull of bloopers.  In the future, I may not only include bloopers but assorted bonus questions as well!
Bye for now!

Thursday, July 22, 2004

Music in the Charlie Chan Movies

I will be posting lyrics to the music
that pops up from time to time as
background in the Chan movies.
This week's movie, The Feathered
Serpent, has two well-known songs:
Cielito Lindo and La Cucaracha.
I have included two different versions
of La Cucaracha, althought there seem
to be so many versions that counting
them would be impossible!
Cielito Lindo
(Quiro Mendoza Y Cortez
& Fernandez)
De la sierra morena
Viene Bajando viene bajando
Un par de ojitos negros
Cielito lindo de contrabando
Ese lunar que tienes
Cielito lindo junto a la boca
No se lo des a nadie
Cielito lindo que a me me toca
Ay ay ay ay
Canta y no lioes
Porque cantando se alegran
Cielito lindo los corazones
La Cucaracha
Una cosa me da risa
Panco Villa sin camisa
Ya se van los carrancitas
Porque vienen las villistas
La cucaracha, la coucaracha
Ya no puede caminar
Porque no tiene, porque le falta
Marihuana que fumar
Para sarapes, Saltillo
Chihuahua par solidados
Para mueres, Jalisco
Para amar, todito lados
La Cucarache
La cucarache, la cucaracha
Ya no puede caminar
Porque no tiene, porque le falta
Marihuana que fumar.
Ya la murio la cucaracha
Ya la lleven a enterrar
Entera quatro zopoltes
Y un raton de sacristan
[The Cockroach
The cockroach, the cockroach
Now he can't go traveling
Because he doesn't have, because he lacks
Marijuana to smoke.
The cockroach just died
And they carried him off to bury him
Among four buzzards
And the sexton's mouse.]

Tuesday, July 20, 2004

A New Addition

Every Monday night at 8:00 p.m. (EST) will be
another Charlie Chan mystery played "live" in
the chat room at The Charlie Chan Family Home
We would like to help make it more enjoyable by
highlighting part of Rush Glick's notes . . . a sort
of Chan Vocabulary.
This week will be "The Feathered Serpent":
Aztecs:  People of Central Mexico whose civilzation
was at its height at the time of the Spanish conquest
in the early sixteenth century.
Feathered Serpent:  The original Aztec word would
be Quetzalcoatl.  The work is also associated with
the planet Venus, the wind and to a mythological
Toltec ruler.  The Mayan word for the feathered
serpent, Kukulcan (or  Kukutan), was used in
reference to a carved figure that was found in the
Aztec Temple of the Sun in "The Feathered Serpent."
Posada (Sanish):  Inn.

Why a Charlie Chan Annex

The Charlie Chan Annex
is designed to be an addition
to help gather information
about the world's greatest detective,
The Honorable Charlie Chan.