Sunday, October 16, 2005

Charlie Chan at the Opera is our Monday Night Chat Room Movie at www.charliechan.info (8:00 PM to 10:00 PM [EDT] and we start our tapes/DVD's at 8:30).
American Movie Classics aired this popular Chan on May 24, 1993, and Bob Dorian introduction . . . :
. . . [Boris Karloff was in a movie] called "Juggernaut" in England when he received a transatlantic telephone call.
It was 20th Century-Fox and they wanted Boris Karloff for the news Charlie Chan movie.
Now who better to play a patient in a mental hospital, suspected of murder, than Boris Karloff.*
The ads proclaimed it was a battle of wits--Chan versus Karloff--in the most exciting Chan movie ever made.
For once the ads didn't exaggerate because of Karloff's classic performance.
Now, as you may know, the inscrutable Oriental detective was never played by an actor of Chinese heritage, unfortunately.+
As a matter of fact, Warner Oland was born in Sweden, which was as far as you could possibly get.^
In each Charlie Chan picture, the leading character was sent to an exotic foreign capital or he was placed in a very special world like the circus or the race track.
This entry in the Chan series sees the detective at the Opera.
Oscar Levant and William Kernell actually wrote a opera called "Carnival," specifically for this movie.**
For some reason it was banned in German by special order of the Reich censor.++
Now, remember, this was in May of 1936, three years before World War II was to begin.
What did the German government find objectionable about a Charlie Chan movie?
I don't know.^^
Maybe you can figure it out along with Warner Oland and me in "Charlie Chan at the Opera" . . . .
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[Epilogue:]
Keye Luke, Charlie Chan's # 1 Son, he was originally an artist and designed movie posters and things like that before turning to action as a second career.
And what an amazing career Keye Luke had.
In addition to gaining worldwide fame in the Charlie Chan series, he was one of Hollywood's biggest character actors.
He and continuing roles in the Dr. Kildare series,*** remember those, and he played the Green Hornet's assistant, Kato, in two series during the 40's.+++
And he appeared as guest in more television series than probably I would have time to mention.
His credits included "Fireside Chats," "Star Trek," "Charlie's Angles," as well as his memorable role as Master Po in the series, "Kung Fu."
That was a great series, too.
He wasn't always regulated to playing Chan's # 1 Son.
He finally got to play Chan himself and that was on a Saturday morning cartoon called "The Amazing Chan and the Chan Clan."
Sounds like a rap group, doesn't it?
He's still active in Hollywood today.
He was recently seen in "Gremlins."
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*Boris Karloff may have been in the asylum at the beginning of the movie but there is no mention of any crime he might have committed before he was committed. AMC was already starting to screw up!
+Wrong, again, o great kemo sabe! Charlie Chan had been portrayed by George Kuwa in the silent 1925 The House Without a Key and Kamiyama Sojin in the 1927 The Chinese Parrot.
^Kamiyama Sojin (if not both actors) was born in Japan.
**Levant supposedly agreed to compose the opera because he could finally write one where SOMEBODY said "Silencio!"
++Since when was Germany THE arbiter of American taste in the 30s and 40s?
^^Miss Maven doesn't know either~~She would have bet on Charlie Chan at the Olympics being the one banned!!
***Except that they were pretty much the Dr. Gillespie series by then!
+++Does he mean the two Green Hornet serials?
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If you'd like a movie with atmosphere, try
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Miss Maven can be reached at

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