Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Mata Moto here with a
quickie quiz question
from our Monday Night Chat
(8:00 to 10:00 P.M. [EDT]):
Can you name this Chan
supporting actress in
Charlie Chan in Egypt
who became this
World War II Pin-Up in
Life Magazine in 1941?!
Right!
Rita (nee Margarita) Cansino
became Rita Hayworth!
I don't even want to THINK
of how long the electrolysis
took to move her hairline!

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Our next Monday Night Chat Movie is Charlie Chan in Egypt
(8:00 P.M. to 10:00 P.M. [EDT] and tapes/DVDs start at 8:30). We have a few items to look for while you're watching. . . .
The hat that Charlie loses to the wind is clean and pristine. It is dusty and dented when Snowshoes brings it back to him.
Only 4 men are needed to move the sarcophagus of Ameti?! I don't think so!
(Courtesy of Kurt Schmidt's
The necklace/amulet is supposed to be around the neck of Ameti's neck but it is clearly in front of the mummy like it was put next to the body as part of the funerary preparations.
How many men carried straight razors in their pockets everyday like Snowshoes did as we saw in the tomb scene?

Monday, August 29, 2005

I have altered my new blog,
The Old Movie Maven, to
accept anonymous comments.
This new site is for other
old movies in addition to
our illustrious detective,
Charlie Chan!
I hope you go by and
check it out at
Virginia

"The Golden Eye" was released on
August 29, 1948 by
Monogram Pictures.
A Belgian poster from Rush Glick's

Lobby cards from Black Magic/Meeting
at Midnight can be so much fun~~
especially when you haven't seen
them before!
These are from Rush Glick's
collection at his site,
where we'll meet tonight for
Black Magic from 8:00 P.M.
to 10:00 P.M. (EDT), we start
our tapes/DVDs at 8:30!
This is from England~~
Charlie Chan and Birmingham Brown
like we've never seen them before!
"Magia Negra" ("Black Magic")
Spanish Herald
"Produced for the 1960 release
of this film in Spain."

Sunday, August 28, 2005

I thought you might like some miscellaneous
stills from Black Magic/Meeting at Midnight,
our Monday Night Chat Room Movie at
Rush Glick's www.charliechan.info,
8:00 P.M. to 10:00 P.M. (EDT)
and we start our tapes/DVDS at 8:30.
These stills are from Rush's gallery
at his website.

Saturday, August 27, 2005

Mata Moto here with another Chan Quiz!

One of these may be from our Monday Night Chat Room Movie at Rush Glick's www.charliechan.info (8:00 P.M. to 10:00 P.M. [EDT] and we start our movies at 8:30). (Note: all pictures are from Rush's Gallery--Once again, Rush, thanks for sharing such an incredible site!)

Can you name these spooky pictures?!
1.

2.

(If you need help with this one, you need more than I can give you!)
3.

4.

(This is another one you should be able to get!)
5.

6.

7.


Answers:
1. Charlie Chan's Secret
2. Dead Men Tell
3. Black Magic/Meeting at Midnight
(Our Monday Night Movie)
4. Charlie Chan's Murder Cruise
5. Charlie Chan at Treasure Island
6. Charlie Chan at the Opera
7. The Black Camel

We have another great cast in Back Magic/Meeting at Midnight, our Monday Night Chat Room Movie (8:00 P.M. to 10:00 P.M. [EDT]) at Rush Glick's www.charliechan.info.
So how many can you recognize?
Sidney Toler: Charlie Chan
Mantan Moreland: Birmingham Brown
Frances Chan: Frances Chan
Joseph Crehan: Police Sergeant Matthews
Helen Beverly (as Helen Beverley): Norma Duncan/Nancy Wood
Jacqueline deWit: Justine Bonner
Geraldine Wall: Harriet Green
Ralph Peters: Officer Rafferty
Frank Jaquet: Paul Hamlin
Edward Earle: Dawson, Police Lab
Claudia Dell: Vera Starkey
Harry Depp: Charles Edwards
Charles Jordan: Tom Starkey
Dick Gordon (as Richard Gordon): William Bonner
Darby Jones: Johnson

Friday, August 26, 2005

Black Magic Bloopers are here for our MONDAY
Night Chat Movie this week, 8:00 P.M. to 10:00 P.M.
(EDT) and we start our movies at 8:30 P.M.
(Courtesy of www.charliechan.info.)
Our first blooper is when Charlie "makes" the skeleton go back into
the wall. His hand remains closed like he's just running it back and
forth instead of the repeated grasping motion needed to actually move
any kind of wire forward.
. . . When Charlie is in the police department explaining how he is psychic,
and the handkerchief dances above his head, take a close look behind
him and you can see the liver going up and down that the prop man is
using to make the handkerchief jump. That's as bad as the scrim in front
of the lamp in Dracula. . . . (Courtesy of Robert S.)
The killer's voice calls to Justine from a partially opened door when she is
on the roof of a tall office building, luring her forward, resulting in her
falling off the roof to her death. He has to be across the street to lure her forward. Isn't he running a risk being heard down on the street (depending
on the heighths of the buildings)?
And what about the killer being seen on the sidewalk where Justine has
fallen, within seconds?

I am tickled pink today!
On August 26, 1935
Twentieth Century-Fox began
production on my favorite Chan,
Charlie Chan's Secret!
One that I hope everybody
keeps in mind for Halloween!
And how about this still from
behind the scenes, courtesy of Rush
~Virginia~

Thursday, August 25, 2005

I found this and thought it would go well with the last post about Earl Derr Biggers, since it's about all of his Charlie Chan titles. It's from www.genovalibri.it/biggers/immagini/copertine.jpg so maybe it's Italian.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Hello, I am Lillian, from our
Charlie Chan Library.
I came across something
special from our CC Calendar~~
August 24, 1884 was when
Earl Derr Biggers was born in
Warren, Ohio!
I also came across an interesting
tidbit from Mr. Biggers, himself,
It was probably written after his book,
"Charlie Chan Carries On,"
was brought to the screen with
Warner Oland as our detective.
^ ^ ^
I would also like to take a moment to
mention another blog by the lady
who runs this site. . . .
The Old Movie Maven at
I've helped Virginia with all of her
movie books that she will be using
for this blog for vintage films.
If you have any stories, bloopers,
etc., that you would like her to
use (and getting credit, too!),
you can reach her at the
address for that website:
~ ~ ~
Lillian

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

It's Calendar Day at Charlie Chan Annex!
I am posting Rush's Schedule for his
(8:00 P.M. to 10:00 P.M. [EDT]).
We have goodies to look forward
to watching, as always!
[This Argentinean poster is from Rush's website.
He never fails to amaze me with what all he has there!]
* * *
August 29--Monday--Black Magic/Meeting at Midnight
September 5--Monday--Charlie Chan in Egypt
September 12--Charlie Chan in the Wax Museum
September 19--Monday--Charlie Chan in Red Dragon
September 26--Monday--Charlie Chan in Monte Carlo

Monday, August 22, 2005

We have a music day for our Monday Night Chat Room Movie, Charlie Chan in Rio, courtesy of Rush Glick's
notes at his website at www.charliechan.info.
That's where we'll meet for the chat room tonight at
8:00 P.M. to 10:00 P.M. (EDT)
Jacqueline Dalya as the singer, Lola Dean,
in a still from the movie with Ted North as Clarke Denton and Victor Jory as Alfredo Marana.
* * *
The first song is sung by Jacqueline Dalya as Lola Dean, singing at the Casino Carioca:
"They Met In Rio
(A Midnight Serenade)"
"This song of love begins the night they met in Rio,
In a cafe by the bay they romanced to a midnight serenade,
She told him to forget the night they met down in Rio,
And there were tears in her eyes as they danced to a midnight serenade.
He whispered, 'You must be mine forevermore,'
And then she showed him someone else's picture in the tiny little locket she wore.
And so he rode away but left his heart down in Rio,
All that remains of their love are the strains of a midnight serenade.
All That remains of their love are the strains of a midnight serenade."
The second song is Dalya's Lola Dean heard on a phonograph record in Alfredo Marana's hotel room:
"I, YI, YI, YI (Like You Very Much)"
"I, yi, yi, yi, I like you very much,
I, yi, yi, yi, I think you're grand;
Why, why, why is it that when I feel your touch,
My heart starts to beat, to beat the band?
I, yi, yi, yi, I like you to hold me tight.
You are too, too, too, too devine;
If you want to be in someone's arms tonight,
Just be sure the arms you're in are mine.
Oh, I like your lips
And I like your eyes;
Would you like my hips
To hipsnotize you?
Si, si, si, si, si, si, see the moon above,
Way, way way, way, way up in the blue;
Si, si, si, senor, I think I fall in love,
And when I fall, I think I fall for you.
I, yi, yi, yi,
Si, si, si, si,
I, yi, yi, yi,
Can see, see, see
That you're for me."
[Lyrics by Mack Gordon and
music by Harry Warren.]

Sunday, August 21, 2005

On August 21, 1947,
Monogram Pictures began
The Chinese Ring, the first
Charlie Chan film with
Roland Winters.
Dig that crazy plaid coat from The Chinese Ring!
(Courtesy from Rush Glick's www.charliechan.info.)

Saturday, August 20, 2005

A World-Wide Interest in
Charlie Chan?
(Courtesy of www.trusel.com)
I came across some interesting images today when I was doing a "google search" for Earl Derr Biggers so I thought I'd post one for you. They're definitely worth a search of your own!
And don't forget . . . our Monday Night Chat Movie is Charlie Chan in Rio at www.charliechan.info, 8:00 P.M. to 10:00 P.M. (EDT)!

Friday, August 19, 2005

I hadn't known that there was something of a drama behind the scenes of Charlie Chan in Rio* until Chad Bennett had informed us almost three years ago in Rush Glick's chat room at www.charliechan.info. I am posting an email that Chad sent me in response to one that I had sent him. It had even more goodies on the relationship between Mary Beth Hughes and Cobina Wright, Jr. (with some minor editing).
^ ^ ^
(Courtesy of The Official Mary Beth Hughes website at www.for/tributes/mbh/pix.html. The reason there is so much white below the picture is . . . that happens to be part of the picture and I don't know how to crop it out!--Virginia)
. . . I looked over your write-up on Kay Linaker, and you wrote everything perfect.
Please note though, that Kay's exact words weren't that "Cobina Wright, Jr., was a spoiled brat"--that was me paraphrasing a bit--Kay wouldn't be that harsh. That is, however, pretty much the gist of the tale.
Cobina had been a spoiled New York socialite who came to Hollywood solely on the ticket that she had generated so much publicity in the society columns.
Back in the days of the studio era, female stars were actually ranked/categorized by their hair color. This developed some friction between Hughes and Cobina--both being blonde.
As the story goes, Cobina came on the set thinking that SHE was the blonde star of the picture and that Hughes should play second-fiddle to her.
Cobina made a stink about having her name above Hughes' in the credits (I can't remember if she succeeded, or not), etc.
Naturally, this irritated Hughes, who Kay was quite fond of.
Mary Beth had worked her way up the ranks of Hollywood and her work had been hard and tedious. She was completely deserving of the status that she should have been given on the Chan picture.
[She got the better billing on CC in Rio over Wright!--Virginia]
Then in waltzes this rich, spoiled heiress from New York who knew nothing about acting; and, since she felt that SHE was the star of the film, perhaps they should have changed the name to "Cobina Wright, Jr., in Rio"????
At any rate, if it is any justice to Mary Beth, what a performance she gave in that film. . . . Just like a drunk Lana Turner!
And, seriously, when compared to Mary Beth, Cobina comes off quite stale and forced. . . . It makes watching the caracters they portray in the film even more entertaining.
When Hughes' character is harassing Cobina, I get the sense that she actually means it! . . .
(Courtesy of http://www.2neatmagazines/com/covers/1941cover/1941-Feb-17.jpg">.)
^ ^ ^
*Rio is our Monday Night Chat Movie at Rush's website, 8:00 P.M. to 10:00 P.M.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

I have some behind-the-scenes goodies today from none other than Kay Linaker, herself, on Charlie Chan in Rio*!

Chad Bennett, a former student of Ms. Linaker's (now teaching at Keene College in New Hamphsire as Kate Phillips), was with us in Rush's chat room in mid-October of 2002.

He told us her reflections from the set, such as that it was Ms. Linaker's favorite Chan film to work on and, in her opinion, the best written out of all the Chans.
+
The five-time Chan actress also had some interesting comments on her co-workers on Charlie Chan in Rio:

The cast kept trying to set Iris Wong (who played Lola Dean's maid) up with Victor Sen Yung since they seemed perfect together. [I think it carries over to their on-screen relationship.]

They kept trying, that is, until they found out that Ms. Wong was already married! She had secretly gotten married because she didn't want her traditional Chinese family to know that she'd married a Caucasian man.

Iris Wong may have already been pregnant during the making of CC in Rio and Kay Linaker later became Godmother to her child.

Ms. Linaker also had a few things to say about Cobina Wright, Jr., and Mary Beth Hughes, her co-stars in Rio, but I'm saving that for another post tomorrow.

You won't want to miss it because it will add to your pleasure the next time you watch Charlie Chan in Rio!
+
+These scenes from Rush Glick's website show Iris Wong and Victor Sen Yung in their best scene together in my humble opinion . . . but then I think that this is possibly the cutest Chan in the whole series!
* * *
*Charlie Chan in Rio is our Monday Night Chat Room Movie at Rush Glick's www.charliechan.info, 8:00 P.M. to 10:00 P.M. (EDT), with videos/DVDs starting at 8:30.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Charlie Chan in Rio* has several interesting character actors: Mary Beth Hughes (Joan Reynolds) and Cobina Wright, Jr., (Grace Ellis) were so antagonistic off-screen that you can feel the tension between them in the movie.

This is one of five Chan movies that Kay Linaker (Helen Ashby) did, starting as the apparition in the seance scene of Charlie Chan at Treasure Island (1936). She went on to Charlie Chan in Monte Carlo (1937), Charlie Chan in Reno (1939), Charlie Chan's Murder Cruise (1940), and Charlie Chan in Rio. She would go on to be co-author of The Blob, starring Steve McQueen, and a teacher at Keene College in New Hampshire.

Harold Huber (Chief Suoto) was in four Chan movies but one of them, Charlie Chan in the City of Darkness (1939), is one of the most talked about because of his portrayal of Marcel Spivak. The point of irritation for most viewers is the French accent that was dictated by the director. Ironically, Huber used foreign accents in his other Chan roles: Charlie Chan on Broadway--presuming that you consider NYC-speak to be "foreign"!; Charlie Chan in Monte Carlo (1937)--French, again; and Charlie Chan in Rio (1941)--Spanish.

Ted North (Clarke Denton) was married to Mary Beth Hughes (Joan Reynolds) from 1943 to 1947, divorcing after having one child together.

Both Mary Beth Hughes and Truman Bradley (Paul Wagner) went on to television careers. Hughes appeared in Red Skelton's show and Bradley in The Science Fiction Theatre.

Hamilton MacFadden (Bill Kellogg) was a special case in the annals of Charlie Chan movies. He started out as a director for Charlie Chan Carries On (1931); The Black Camel (1931), also playing the movie director; Charlie Chan's Greatest Case (1933); and Charlie Chan in Paris (1935), the first week's shooting only and uncredited at that. MacFadden not only played in Black Camel but Charlie Chan in Reno (1939) as the night clerk and as Bill Kellog in Reno (1941).
* * *
Sidney Toler: Charlie Chan
Mary Beth Hughes: Joan Reynolds
Cobina Wright, Jr.: Grace Ellis
Kay Linaker: Helen Ashby, aka Barbara Cardozo,
Victor Jory: Alfredo Marana, aka Alfredo Cardozo
Harold Huber: Chief Suoto
Victor Sen Young (as Sen Yung): Jimmy Chan
Richard Derr: Ken Reynolds
Jacqueline Dalya: Lola Dean
Ted North: Clarke Denton
Truman Bradley: Paul Wagner
Hamilton MacFadden: Bill Kellogg
Leslie Denison: Rice
Eugene Borden: Armand
Ann Codee: Margo
* * *
Our still from CC in Reno (courtesy of Rush Glick's website) has Hamilton MacFadden, Harold Huber, Truman Bradley, Sidney Toler, Cobina Wright,, Richard Derr, Mary Beth Hughes and Victor Sen Yung.
* * *
*CC in Rio is our Monday Night Chat Room Movie, from 8:00 P.M. to 10:00 P.M. (EDT), with the movie starting at 8:30.

We are in the library again but for classic slang!

Charlie Chan in Rio* has several words that may or may not still be in use by our younger visitors to this site so I'm checking our slang dictionaries*~~You'd be surprised what we have here in the Chan Library!
Lillian
* * *
GAME: Ready and willing.
HEP (slang variant of "hip"): (1) Keenly aware of or knowledgeable about the latest trend or develoments.
(2) Very fashionable or stylish.
(Jimmy Chan: "She got 'hep' that we were closing in on her.")
MICKEY (also MICKEY FINN) (slang): Chloral hydrate in combination with alcohol; usually administered surreptitiously to make the drinker unconscious.
(Joan Reynolds: "Slip him a 'mickey' and he'll go under.")
RUMMY: A card game, played in many variations, in which the object is to obtain sets of three or more cards of the same rank or suit.
STAG (as used): A person who attends a social gathering unaccompanied by a partner, especially a man who is unaccompanied by a woman.
(Ken Reynolds: "Looks like I'm 'stag' tonight.")
THIRD DEGREE: Mental or physical torture used to obtain information or a confession from a prisoner.
* * *
*Our Monday Night Chat Room Movie at Rush Glick's www.charliechan.info (8:00 P.M. to 10:00 P.M. [EDT], the movie starts at 8:30), who also contributed our dictionary entries and lobby card.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Welcome back to the Charlie Chan Library.

We have the original story by Earl Derr Biggers that "Charlie Chan in Rio" is based on~~"The Black Camel." I strongly urge those who don't have it to check out your local library and/or half-price or used book stores to get it. "The Black Camel," like all of Biggers Chan stories, stand alone while making an interesting comparison to both movie verstions.

We are very lucky that both versions are available for us to watch and enjoy.

What makes it even more fun is comparing the early original "Black Camel" with Warner Oland's Chan still somewhat in transition to Sidney Toler's Charlie Chan in Rio when his Chan is established.

I urge everyone with a copy of "The Black Camel" to watch it before we watch "CC in Rio" for our Monday Night Chat at Rush Glick's www.charliechan.info (8:00 P.M. to 10:00 P.M. [EDT] with the movie starting at 8:30.)
Lillian

Our Charlie Chan Calendar has several entries for the middle of August!

[Mid-July-]Mid-August, 1933--Fox Films began production on "Charlie Chan's Greatest Case."

Mid- August, 1940--Twentieth Century-Fox completes production on "Murder Over New York."

Mid-August, 946--Monogram Pictures completes production on "The Trap."

Sunday, August 14, 2005

Today is something a little different!
I have two stills from Docks of New Orleans,
our Monday Night Chat Movie at
(8:00 P.M. to 10:00 P.M., with
the movie starting at 8:30).
These 2 stills turn into action
shots from the same scene!
I hope you enjoy these pictures from
Rush Glick's www.charliechan.info!

Saturday, August 13, 2005

Our Monday Chat Room Movie is Docks of New Orleans at www.charleichan.info (8:00 P.M. to 10:00 P.M. [EDT], the movie starts at 8:30 P.M.).

It's the remake of the 1938 Mr. Wong, Detective, with Boris Karloff as the Chinese detective, James Lee Wong. Definitely worth checking out on its own merits (IMHO) and/or to compare with Roland Winters' Chan version, Docks of New Oleans.
Courtesy of Rush Glick's
* * *
Cast of Characters
Roland Winters: Charlie Chan
Virginia Dale: Rene
Mantan Moreland: Birmingham Brown
John Gallaudet: Captain McNalley
Victor Sen Young: Tommy Chan
Carol Forman: Nita Aguirre (aka Countess Allemand)
Douglas Fowley: Grock
Harry Hayden: Oscar Swenstrom
Howard Negley: Pereaux
Stanley Andrews: Von Scherbe
Emmett Vogan: Henri Castanaro
Boyd Irwin: Simon LaFontanne
Rory Mallison: Thompson
George J. Lewis: Dansiger
Paul Conrad: District Attorney
Dian Fauntelle: Mrs. Swenstrom
Haywood Jones: Mobile
Forrest Matthews: Detective
Fred Miller: Armed Guard
Larry Steers: Doctor
Frank Stephens: Sergeant
Ferris Taylor: Dr. Doobie
Wally Walker: Chauffeur
Eric Wilton: Butler
Courtesy of Rush Glick's

Friday, August 12, 2005

I must admit that I've been thinking of several other series as well as the Charlie Chan movies as I've been posting these rules!

Lilllian
* * *
(Courtesy of www.pandorabox.com)
TWENTY RULES FOR WRITING
DETECTIVE STORIES
BY S.S. VAN DINE
[Part Three]
16. A detective novel should contain no long descriptive passages, no literary dallying with side-issues, no subtly worked-out character analysis, no "atmospheric" preoccupations. Such matters have no vital place in a record of crime and deduction. They hold up the action, and introduce issues irrelevant to the main purpose, which is to state a problem, analyze it, and bring it to a successful conclusion. To be sure, there must be a sufficient descriptiveness and character delineation to give the novel verisimilitude; but when an author of a detective story has reached that literary point where he has created a gripping sense of reality and enlisted the reader's interest and sympathy in the characters and the problem, he has gone as far in the purely "literary" technique as is legitimate and compatible with the needs of a criminal-problem document. A detective story is a grim business, and the reader goes to it, not for literary furbelows and style and beautiful descriptions and the projection of moods, but for mental stimulation and intellectual activity--just as he goes to a ball game or to a cross-word puzzle. Lectures between innings at the Polo Grounds on the beauties of nature would scarcely enhance the interest in the struggle between two contesting baseball nines; and dissertations on etymology and orthography interspersed in the definitions of a cross-word puzzle would tend only to irritate the solver bent on making the words interlock correctly.
17. A professional criminal must never be shouldered with the guilt of a crime in a detective story. Crimes by house-breakers and bandits are the province of the police department--not of authors and brilliant amateur detectives. Such crimes belong to the routine work of the Homicide Bureaus. A really fascinating crime is one committed by a pillar of a church, or a spinster noted for her charities.
18. A crime in a detective story must never turn out to be an accident or a suicide. To end an odyssey of sleuthing with such an anti-climax is to play an unpardonable trick on the reader. If a book-buyer should demand his two dollars back on the ground that the crime was a fake, any court with a sense of justice would decide in his favor and add a stinging reprimand to the author who thus hoodwinked a trusting and kind-hearted reader.
19. The motives for all crimes in detective stories should be personal. International plottings and war politics belong in a different category of fiction--in secret-service tales, for instance. But a burder story must be kept gemutlich, so to speak. It must reflect the reader's everyday experiences, and give him a certain outlet for his own repressed desires and emotions.
20. And (to give my Credo and even score of items) I herewith list a few of the devices which no self-respecting detective-story writer will now avail himself of. They have been employed too often, and are familiar to all true lovers of literary crime. To use them is a confession of the author's ineptitude and lack of originality.
(a) Determining the identity of the culprit by comparing the butt of a cigarette left at the scene of the crime with the brand smoked by a suspect.
(b) The bogus spiritualistic seance to frighten the culprit into giving himself away.
(c) Forged finger-prints.
(d) The dummy-figure alibi.
(e) The dog that does not bark and thereby reveals the fact that the intruder is familiar.
(f) The final pinning of the crime on a twin, or a relative who looks exactly like the suspected, but innocent, person.
(g) The hypodermic syringe and the knock-out drops.
(h) The commission of the murder in a locked room after the police have actually broken in.
(i) The word-association test for guilt.
(j) The cipher, or code letter, which is eventually unravelled by the sleuth.
* * *
William Powell, the first and best
Philo Vance, courtesy of

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Welcome back to the Charlie Chan Library.

This is our continuation of S.S. Van Dines 20 rules on writing included in his Winter Murder Case, interesting not only in its own right but to point out how the Chan movie writers occasionally cheated in their plotting!

Lillian
* * *
TWENTY RULES FOR WRITING
DETECTIVE STORIES
*
BY S.S. VAN DINE
[Part Two]
*
7. There simply must be a corpse in a detective novel, and the deader the corpse the better. No lesser crime than murder will suffice. Three hundred pages is far too much pother [sic] for a crime other than murder. After all, the reader's trouble and expenditure of energy must be rewarded. Americans are essentially humane, and therefore a tip-top murder arouses their sense of vengeance and horror. They wish to bring the perpetrator to justice; and when "murder most foul, as in the best it is," has been committed, the chase is on with all the righteous enthusiasm of which the thrice gentle reader is capable.
8. The problem of the crime must be solved by strictly naturalistic means. Such methods for learning the truth as slate-writing, ouija-boards, mind-reading, spiritualistic seances, crystal-gazing, and the like, are taboo. A reader has chance when matching his wits with a rationalistic detective, but if he must compete with the world of spirits and go chasing about the fourth dimension of metaphysics, he is defeated ab initio.
9. There must be but one detective--that is but one protagonist of deduction--one deus ex machina. To bring the minds of three or four, or sometimes a gang of detectives to bear on a problem is not only to disperse the interest and break the direct thread of logic, but to take an unfair advantage of the reader, who, at the outset, pits his mind against that of the detective and proceeds to do mental battle. If there is more than one detective the reader doesn't know ho his co-deductor is. It's like making the reader run a race with a relay team.
10. The culprit must turn out to be a person who has played a more or less prominent part in the story--that is, a person with whom the reader is familiar and in whom the takes an interest. For a writer to fasten the crime, in the final chapter, on a stranger or person who has played a wholly unimportant part in the tale, is to confess to his inability to match with with the author.
11. Servants--such as butlers, footmen, valets, game-keepers, cooks and the like--must not be chosen by the author as the culprit. This is begging a noble question. It is a too easy solution. It is unsatisfactory, and makes the reader feel that his time has been wasted. The culprit must be a decidedly worth-while person--one that wouldn't ordinarily come under suspicion; for if the crime was the sordid work of a menial, the author would have no business to embalm it in book-form.
12. There must be but one culprit, no matter how many murders are committed. The culprit may of course, have a minor helper or co-plotter; but the entire onus must reast on one pair of shoulders: the entire indignation of the reader must be permitted to concentrate on a single black nature.
13. Secret societies, camorras, mafias, et al., have no place in a detective story. Here the author gets into adventure fiction and secret-service romance. A fascinating and truly beautiful murder is irremedially spoiled by any such wholesale culpability. To be sure, the murderer in a detective novel should be given a sporting chance, but it is going too far to grant him a secret society (with its ubiquitous havens, mass protection, etc.) to fall back on. No high-class, self-respecting murderer would want such odds in his jousting-bout with the police.
14. The method of murder, and the means of detecting it, must be rational and scientific. That is to say, pseudo-science and purely imaginative and speculative devices are not to be tolerated in the roman policier. For instance, the murder of a victim by a newly found element--a super-radium, let us say--is not a legitimate problem. Nor may a rare and unknown drug, which has its existence only in the aurhor's imagination, be administered. A detective-story writer must limit himself,, toxicologically speaking, to the pharmacopoeia. Once an author soars into the realm of fantasy, in the detective fiction, cavorting in the uncharted reaches of adventure.
15. The truth of the problem must at all times be apparent--provided the reader is shrewd enough to see it. By this I mean that if the reader, after learning the explanation for the crime, should reread the book, he would see that the solution had, in a sense, been staring him in the face--that all the clues really pointed to the culprit--and that , if he had been as clever as the detective, he could have solved the mystery himself without going on to the final chapter. That the clever reader does often thus solve the problem goes without saying. And one of my basic theories of detective fiction is that, if a detective story is fairly and legitimately constructed, it is impossible to keep the solution from all readers. There will inevitably be a certain number of them just as shrewd as the author; and if the author has shown the proper sportsmanship and honesty in his statement and projection of the crime and its clues, these pesipacious readers will be able, by analysis, elimination and logic, to put their finger on the culprit as soon as the detective does. And therein lies the zest of the game. Herein we have an explanation for the fact that readers who would spurn the ordinary "popular" novel will read detective stories unblushingly.
[TO BE CONTINUED]
William Powell, the first and best Philo Vance.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Hello, I'm the new girl, Lillian.
Virginia has hired me to take care of the growing Charlie Chan Library that we have here at the Annex.
I have a project that she wasn't sure would interest the readers of this blog but, being a librarian of long experience, I knew you would.
First, many of you not only enjoy reading the Chan books by Earl Derr Biggers but other authors like S.S. Van Dine's Philo Vance novels.
I'm honored to finally have a chance to bring up something that's been on my mind for some time:
Mr. Van Dine has a list in the back of "The Winter Murder Case" called "Twenty Rules for Writing Detective Stories."
This list is interesting in its own right BUT . . . going through the list, I kept thinking that the writers of the Charlie Chan movies made boo-boos that are no-nos on this list!
So Virginia has kindly lent me her blog so I can bring them to your attention and you can decide for yourselves.
* * *
TWENTY RULES FOR WRITING
DETECTIVE STORIES
BY S.S. VAN DINE
[PART ONE]

The detective story is a kind of intellectual game. It is more--it is a sporting event. And the author must play fair with the reader. He can no more resort to trickeries and deceptions and still retain his honesty than if he cheated in a bridge game. He must outwit the reader, and hold the reader's interest, through sheer ingenuity. For the writing of detective stories there are very definite laws--unwritten, perhaps, but none the less binding: and every respectable and self-respecting concocter of literary mysteries lives up to them.
Herewith, then is a sort of Credo, based partly on the practice of all the great writers of detective stories, and partly on the promptings of the honest author's inner conscience. To wit:
1. The reader must have equal opportunity with the detective for solving the mystery. All clues must be plainly stated and described.
2. No wilful tricks or deceptions may be played on the reader other than those played legitimately by the criminal on the detective himself.
3. There must be no love interest in the story. To introduce amour is to clutter up a purely intellectual experience with irrelevant sentiment. The business in hand is to bring a criminal to the bar of justice, not to bring a lovelorn couple to the hymeneal alter.
4. The detective himself, or one of the official investigators, should never turn out to be the culprit. This is bald trickery, on a par with offering some one a bright penny for a five-dollar gold piece. It's false pretenses. [This was written circa 1930. Would that we could still get five-dollar gold pieces!--Lillian]
5. The culprit must be determined by logical deductions--not by accident or coincidence or unmotivated confession. To solve a criminal problem in this latter fashion is like sending the reader on a deliberate wild-goose chase, and then telling him, after he has failed, that you had the object of his search up your sleeve all the time. Such an author is no better than a practical joker.
6. The detective novel must have a detective in it; and a detective is not a detective unless he detects. His function is to gather clues that will eventually lead to the person who did the dirty work in the first chapter; and if the detective does not reach his conclusions through an analysis of those clues, he has no more solved his problem than the schoolboy who gets his answer out of the back of the arithmetic [sic].
[TO BE CONTINUED TOMORROW]
* * *
This is Basil Rathbone as Philo Vance in
"The Bishop Murder Case," courtesy
I've always thought of this movie as his
"Sherlock Holmes in Training
Wheels" role! . . . Lillian

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

*
A Chan Night on the Town
(on August 7, 2005)
Lisa (aka Madame Saturnia) and I met late Sunday afternoon on a special mission for Chanites everywhere.
We were on our way to meet Charlie Chan, expert on bloodstain patterns, in person! Plus, Mrs. Chan as it turned out!
He was as knowledgeable, professional, and charming as ever but . . . he was in disguise as a Detective Constable on the Forensic Services Unit for a Regional Police Service in Canada.
The name he was going by while here was Craig Moore. He's attending the 90th Annual Educational Conference for the International Association for Identification in Dallas, Texas.
Craig was kind enough to give us our own copies of his handbook for the three-day workshop he is giving on bloodstain pattern analysis, using his own (patented) Bloodstain Spatter Board Model.
I could see Lisa getting a copy since she had sent him a copy of "Charlie Chan at the Race Track." Craig used two stills from the movie as part history and part illustration in his handbook on how blood pattern analysis developed over history.
You can imagine how tickled I was to not only get a copy but Craig was kind enough to sign our books! Chan Fans everywhere, eat your hearts out!
We were both fascinated to learn that Craig had done Charlie Chan one better. Craig told us about developing and patenting his Board Model to help jurors and students of the subject to more easily understand the theory of how bloodstain patterns happen and their relationship between the source and the blood stain itself.
Craig gave a lot of credit to several people but most to Herbert Leon MacDonell. [That's not a mispelling. There's only one "N" in MacDonell!]
Herb MacDonell had taught students of blood pattern analysis (BPA) like Craig for 30+ years.
We thought Craig deserved credit for bringing Mr. MacDonell to the forefront of "BPA", not only as his teacher but also as an inspiration to his students to carry on his "knowledge and similar desire to achieve more that the status quo."
The quote is from Craig but you know that he could have just as easily been talking about Charlie Chan!
Craig's handbook started with Genesis (Chapter 4, verse 10) to start showing the connection of bloodstain patterns to a committed crime over history.
His several references to books on Germanic law show his teory as to how the writers of "Charlie Chan at the Race Track" (and therefore Charlie Chan) could have learned about these same bloodstain patterns.
[It also reminded me of scenes S.S. Van Dine wrote in his Philo Vance stories called "The Greene Murder Case" and "The Casino Murder Case." Their solutions involved libraries of crimes and law in German.]
Craig also quoted William Shakespeare and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. [No wonder Earl Derr Biggers was successful with his Chan books, following in their literary footsteps!]
MacBeth stabbed King Duncan and said "What hands are here! Ha! they pluck out my eyes. Will all Great Neptune's ocean wash this blood clean from my hands?" ("MacBeth," Act II, Scene II.)
Sherlock Holmes ". . . pointing to numerous gouts and splashes of blood, which lay all around. . . . Then of course, this belongs to a second individual - presumably the murderer . . . ." ("A Study in Scarlet," Part 1, Chapter 3)
Craig also mentioned that there are several designs similar to his but Craig's model is not only patented here in the US and in Canada but used by more than two dozen agencies like the Houston [Texas] Police Department.
If our meeting with Craig was in indication of his workshop at the Dallas Conference, it will be a great success!
Our evening became even more fun for us when "Mrs. Craig Moore" showed up!
[Note: I am not being sexist here referring to his wife as "Mrs. Craig Moore." I have been . . . lectured, let us say . . . about naming people here and on other websites who are "private citizens." That is that they have never posted here or on other websites. I hope she will forgive me!]
"Mrs. Craig" is a fascinating person in her own right. She has to be to be married to Craig!
She is also too young and good-looking to have such a beautiful head of silver hair. Any less so and I couldn't have been able to handle it!
Lisa and I also thought of fellow Chanite, Jillian Stone, as they talked about their life in Canada since she's retired from the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.
We carried this conversation over into dinner at a nearby restaurant where we talked them into trying fried okra. Lisa and I have to give them credit since it's not easy to describe okra and make it sound appetizing!
They told us about visiting the Sixth Floor Exhibit at the School Book Depository of President John Kennedy's Assassination. That lead us to suggesting other places to visit--not to mention other places to eat!
I must admit a joke on me. I had told them that I was born and raised in nearby Fort Worth, also known as "Cowtown" from the days it was part of the Chisholm Trail.
We were leaving the restaurant when Craig asked me a question about "Cowpatch."
Lisa and I enjoyed that since that's as good a description of how those steers left the streets of Fort Worth when the cowboys got them through town!
Lisa and I went home hoping that Craig and "Mrs. Craig" had enjoyed visiting with us enough to come back. They're the kind of people you'd not only love to have dinner with but to have as neighbors!!
Anytime you can come back down and stay longer, just let us know!!
Love, Virginia
* * *
*(Courtesy of Rush Glick's www.charliechan.info.)