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PHOTOGRAPHY

CHARLIE CHAN Volume 2

DVD Review by David Blackwell

DETAILS: 72 minutes/ 40 mins/ 68 mins./ 71 mins/ five featurettes, Charlie Chan At the Circus trailer

STUDIO: 20th Century Fox

RELEASE DATE: 12-5-2006

Some consider the four films in this collection to be the best of the Charlie Chan series. Warner Oland had to drink to get that Charlie Chan voice, but somehow they still were able to get Warner Oland to play the character to perfection. One of the Chan movies after these four, they had to make into a Mr. Moto film (MR. MOTO'S GAMBLE) after Warner had what appeared to be a nervous breakdown. Still Warner Oland was a great Chan. CHARLIE CHAN AT THE CIRCUS and CHARLIE CHAN AT THE OPERA are the best of the four. One Chan is at the circus among many types of characters and animals while the other Boris Karloff plays an opera singer escaped from an insane asylum. CHARLIE CHAN AT THE RACE TRACK is still entertaining, but it is the least favorite of the four as Chan and "Number One Son" Lee (Keye Luke) work together to stop a gambling ring from fixing a horse race. CHARLIE CHAN AT THE OLYMPICS combines history from the 1936 Berlin Olympics with a murder mystery. Watch for the Nazi banner and symbols that have been bloated out and the look at technology of the time (CHARLIE CHAN AT THE RACE TRACK and CHARLIE CHAN AT THE OPERA). The Chan films are full of twists and red herrings as this reviewer sometimes didn't guess how it would end.  Enjoyable entertainment for the mystery fan and each film is just over an hour long each. Bring on volume 3 soon.

VIDEO: 1.33:1 (Full Frame)

If you watch the restoration featurette on any of the four Chan film discs, you can see how many hours went into restoring these films digitally. Some signs of grain, dirt, and scratches do show up. The film that still shows most of the signs of a little damage is CHARLIE CHAN AT THE OLYMPICS. Still the restoration work is impressive compared to the prints that have been shown for years.

AUDIO: English Mono

Subtitles: English, French, Spanish

Dialogue, music, and sound come in clearly despite a little noise.

SPECIAL FEATURES: On the CHARLIE CHAN AT THE CIRCUS disc is the original theatrical trailer, the restoration featurette (included on all four discs), and CHARLIE CHAN AT THE MOVIES which discusses the four films in this set, their productions, and a little about the cast and crew (WARNER Oland was a too drunk for one scene in CHARLIE CHAN AT THE RACE TRACK and that isn't Boris Karloff's signing voice in CHARLIE CHAN AT THE OPERA).

NUMBER ONE SON: THE LIFE OF KEYE LUKE (included on the CHARLIE CHAN AT THE RACE TRACK disc) talks about Keye Luke's life as an artist and an actor. he did some of the publicity artwork for Charlie Chan before he was cast as Charlie Chan's number one son while he really enjoyed his role in KUNG FU the series.

CHARLIE CHAN'S LUCKY DIRECTOR: H. BRUCE HUMBERSTONE (on the CHRALIE CHAN AT THE OPERA disc) is my favorite featurette of the set.  "Lucky" Bruce Humberstone directed Charlie Chan films, musicals, film noir (I WAKE UP SCREAMING), Tarzan, and more.  He was a working man's director with great attention to detail.  Intreviews with three film historians, two actors, and Humberstone's daughter- Jordana Gainsworth flesh out the life of this interesting director.   Imagine what films he could have done if he wasn't a contract director ordered to do whatever films he was told to do.

LAYNE TOM JR.: THE ADVENTURES OF CHARLIE CHAN JR. (on the CHARLIE CHAN AT THE OLYMPICS disc) is a nice interview with the actor who played three of the Chan sons in three different films and his stories about life as an actor.

FINAL ANALYSIS: Fantastic restoration work for a few gerat Chan films and good featurettes make this a nice one to own beside the first volume of the CHARLIE CHAN collection.

Related DVD Reviews:

CHARLIE CHAN Volume 1- http://enterline2.tripod.com/charliechan_vol1.html

MR. MOTO Volume 1- http://enterline2.tripod.com/mr_moto__vol1.html

this review is (c)12-20-2006 David Blackwell and cannot be reprinted without permission (except for excerpts and a link to the review). Look for additional content at http://enterlinemedia.livejournal.com and send all comments to lord_pragmagtic@hotmail.com