Wednesday, May 25, 2005

We are checking out our Charlie Chan Library today for our Monday Night Chat Room Movie,* Murder Over New York with Sidney Toler.
Murder Over New York was the third movie made in 1940 from Earl Derr Biggers' book, Behind That Curtain. It was the second Chan made with Warner Oland, his first one being the now lost Charlie Chan's Chance made in 1932.
There is debate as to whether the first version qualifies as a Charlie Chan film as it was made over to make Warner Baxter's role of Colonel Beetham more prominant.
Strictly speaking, the 1929 Behind That Curtain IS a Chan film but Charlie has so little screen time--and that so late in the movie--that a lot of Chan fans don't bother with it.
I personally think that you should at least consider watching it for several reasons--if you can get your hands on a copy.
For starters, it is the earliest Chan movie known to still exist. It is also valuable as a record of the transition period when Hollywood was still learning how to make talking pictures. The acting was still frequently in the stilted manner that many actors had used in the silent era while a few actors clearly stood out in what would become essentially the new fashion of acting.
Case in point was Boris Karloff. He had a small role in the 1929 version of Behind That Curtain but you could already see why Karloff made the Frankenstein Monster so human, memorable and classic.
A word about Warner Baxter.

He was already an established star when the studio made Behind That Curtain into a movie revolving around his character, Colonel Beetham. What is ironic about THIS Chan film is that Baxter later got his own mystery series, The Crime Doctor.

. . . . .
*See Rush Glick's www.charliechan.info.

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