A Few Words About A few words about... Charlie Chan Collection - Volume One

Discussion in 'DVD' started by Robert Harris, Jun 7, 2006.

  1. Robert Harris

    Robert Harris Archivist
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    Fox has put quite a bit of time and effort in cleaning up their Chan films, and the results are very positive.

    For the uninitiated, many of the original negatives were either destoryed or damaged, along with whatever dupe materials that existed at the time.

    What this means is that the films have not looked good in many, many years.

    The image quality on the new discs is a major step forward, which will only be obvious to those who have seen the old elements.

    One of my early jobs in the industry was creating an archaeology of the entire Chan series, tracking film elements, rights, etc., so finally seeing these wonderfully entertaining films about the life of the brilliant "Swedish" detective is extremely welcome.

    The films in Volume One... Egypt, London, Paris and Shanghai, four of sixteen Chan films starring Mr. Oland, represent his work toward the middle of the series, and are essential Chan.

    Oddly typecast as Chinese, Mr. Oland also played Dr. Fu Manchu.

    Oddly typecast as Jewish, Mr. Oland also played the role of Al Jolson's father, Cantor Rabinowitz in The Jazz Singer (1927).

    My two favorite performances in his long list of characters are that of Henry Chang in Shanghai Express, and Dr. Yogami in Werewolf of London.

    My one negative comment about the series, is that Fox should have gone with slim cases and at least two films on each disc for the shorter films. Rather than a large four disc boxed set, this initial offering could easily have in a single case holding two discs.

    Other than the space issue, the set comes very recommended. The pure entertainment value of these films has not deminished over the decades.

    RAH
     
  2. Dave GR

    Dave GR Stunt Coordinator

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    Thanks Robert. Looking forward to getting my hands on this set.
     
  3. JohnPM

    JohnPM Second Unit

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    Another great review, Mr. Harris. Sure hope the consumers will support this set, as I assume the release of the remaining Chans on DVD will depend upon the success of these.

    http://greenbriarpictureshows.blogspot.com/
     
  4. JimmyT

    JimmyT Stunt Coordinator

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    Robert,

    Thank you, so much.
     
  5. Matt Hough

    Matt Hough Executive Producer
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    Thanks for the early inside look at these four films, and I hope and pray folks will buy this set so we can get them all. These are among the best of the entire series, so I'm glad Fox began with them.
     
  6. Joe Karlosi

    Joe Karlosi Producer

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    I'm relatively new to the Chan films, but I'll be buying this.
     
  7. Steve...O

    Steve...O Producer

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    Thank you so much, Mr. Harris.


    Absolutely. My love of classic film started back in the 1970s when Saturday afternoon TV consisted of everything from Charlie Chan to Tarzan to the East Side Kids/Bowery Boys. These may not have all been "A" product, but they were (and still are) very entertaining.

    If I may be permitted, two questions for Mr. Harris:

    1. The few restored Chans/Motos I've seen do indeed look miles better than what was previously available. Does Schawn Belston deserve the credit for these efforts or was someone else at the helm. The work done on these deserves recognition. It is my understanding that Fox invested over $2 million on these restorations.

    2. During your years as archaeologist for the Chans, were you able to determine definitively what happened to the 4 missing Oland Chans? I've heard about a fire in New Jersey in 1937 that may have destroyed the only prints of these films, but other reports say they were around as late as the 1950s. Do you believe that it is possible prints of these still exist? You may know that PARIS was lost until about 25 years ago or so when it was found in a European archive.

    Thank you,

    Steve
     
  8. Robert Harris

    Robert Harris Archivist
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    Mr. Belston is the first professional archivist / asset protection executive at Fox. In his short tenure, he has turned the library around, handling everything from silent films like Sunrise to '30s product such as the Chans, '40s three-strip Technicolor titles, major 70mm preservation work on titles like Cleopatra, to modern classics from the '60s and beyond.

    He and his staff deserve huge credit and kudos from anyone and everyone who loves the cinema. In a strictly corporate sense, one must then also credit those with the savvy to place him in the position.

    We always hope that a print or pre-print element has survived, and one should never give up that hope. Original negatives continue to appear long after they have been assumed gone.

    Hopefully, I haven't misled anyone. I was not an archaeologist for the Chans. I was assigned a research project which took some weeks, probably done around 1965-6 for a television syndication company called Seven Arts. I don't recall any of the specifics, but the final project was entitled an "Archaeology." I have a copy filed somewhere, and will refresh my memory.

    RAH
     
  9. David_Blackwell

    David_Blackwell Screenwriter

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    I can't wait to watch this DVD. I enjoyed the Charlie Chan movies when they aired on AMC years ago. Those Charlie Chan marathons were just pure fun to enjoy.
     
  10. Randy Korstick

    Randy Korstick Producer

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    Robert Harris
    I watched most of these on AMC years ago and remember that most of these looked pretty bad it wasn't until the late 30's early 40's Chan's that AMC's copies started looking good. Do these hopefully look better than the ones shown on AMC?
     
  11. Steve...O

    Steve...O Producer

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    I'm not Mr. Harris and don't presume to answer for him, however I can tell you that having watched the AMC versions of Egypt, Shanghai et al and also having seen the restored versions on FMC the restored versions show significant improvement. Egypt still appears to have replaced titles, but I think you will be pleased. Naturally the DVD will be even better than the TV version.

    More good news keeps coming in about this set...Scarlet Street reports that a short PSA Warner Oland made in character requesting repeal of a Pennsylvania law barring movies from being shown on Sunday is also included. The specs did not list this.

    Steve
     
  12. David_Blackwell

    David_Blackwell Screenwriter

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    I received the set from FOX yesterday. I only watched Charlie Chan in Egypt so far, but some of the transfer does look nicely cleaned up. I do agree with RAH that they should have went with slimline cases.
     
  13. Mike*HTF

    Mike*HTF Supporting Actor

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    This is great news! I also remember seeing this on AMC years ago and hope there will me more similar "surprises" in the box.
    On a related note, does anyone have any more details on the Mr. Moto collection specs?
     
  14. JohnPM

    JohnPM Second Unit

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    One remarkable thing I've seen so far in the Chan box is the original theatrical trailer for "Charlie Chan In London", with beautiful quality. That was the first Oland/Chan trailer I've ever seen anywhere ...

    http://greenbriarpictureshows.blogspot.com/
     
  15. Johannes S

    Johannes S Stunt Coordinator

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    Thank you, so much, Mr. Harris for your comments about the Charlie Chan Collection.

    These films really are highly entertaining and bring back vivid memories of my childhood when I couldn't wait for the next Chan movie being broadcast on the local Bavarian TV station on Sunday afternoons.

    The restored DVD releases look fantastic considering the age of the prints. Highly recommended!

    It should be noted that the spanish version of the lost Chan feature "Charlie Chan Carries On", "Eran trece" is included as an extra on the "Shanghai" disc.

    Too bad they did not include the early Oland/Chan film "The Black Camel" (1931) in this first collection. Please Fox DO NOT FORGET this one! [​IMG]
     
  16. Steve...O

    Steve...O Producer

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    This was not included as Fox does not own the North American/Canadian DVD rights. Warner Home Video does. They said at the last chat that Camel is on their future release schedule (date TBD).

    This set is fantastic. Everything from the cover art (not original one sheets but great facsimilies) to the contents is first class.

    Here are thumbmails of coverart (click to enlarge)

     
  17. Richard M S

    Richard M S Supporting Actor

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    "It should be noted that the spanish version of the lost Chan feature "Charlie Chan Carries On", "Eran trece" is included as an extra on the "Shanghai" disc."

    Did Warner Oland play Charlie Chan in the Spanish version as well?

    I grew up in New York watching old movies on WPIX and on the 4:30 Million Dollar movie and maybe I just missed them but I never even remember the Charlie Chan films being shown, so I have never seen any of them. This is going to be the first time I have seen any of these films, and I am really looking forward to it.
     
  18. Steve...O

    Steve...O Producer

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    No, he didn't. An actor named Manuel Arbo did. He's a charming fellow that resembles Oland a bit. However Oland does make an appearance of sorts in that a Chan family picture that is shown has Oland in it.

    Steve
     
  19. Robert Crawford

    Robert Crawford Moderator
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    Richard,
    I grew up in the NYC Metro area too and those films played a lot on the Late and Late, Late Show on channel 2. Also, they played on channel 9 (Million Dollar Movie) and might have made appearances on both channels 5 and 11. The time period I'm talking about are the 1960s to early 1970s.




    Crawdaddy
     
  20. Richard M S

    Richard M S Supporting Actor

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    Thanks Steve ..O for the name of the lead in the Spanish version.

    And Robert, my interest in classic films began around the mid to late 70's, I guess maybe that's why I missed them. And yes, it was via the Million Dollar Movie on Channel 9 at 8 PM.

    I don't know why I thought it was on Channel 7 at 4:30 PM!

    In any case, I am really happy to finally be able to see them in what sounds like first class presentations.
     

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