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PHOTOGRAPHY

CHARLIE CHAN COLLECTION Volume 4
DVD Review by David Blackwell

DETAILS: 287 minutes (68 mins./ 71 mins./ 74 mins/ 74 mins.), 4 restoration comparison featurettes, 9 featurettes, 4 still galleries, 2 original theatrical trailers
VIDEO: 1.33:1 (Full Frame)
AUDIO: English Stereo, English Mono
Subtitles: English, French, Spanish

STUDIO: 20th Century Fox
RELEASE DATE: 2-12-2008

CHARLIE CHAN IN HONOLULU is the first film Sydney Toler did as Charlie Chan. It's a great first outing, but Toler does improve in the next few films. The family subplot and having two Chan sons helping out along with the humor makes this entry a little too over-the-top. Chan is called to investigate a murder on a ship that came into port and finds it involves false identities and stolen cash.

CHARLIE CHAN IN RENO is the first film to see Charlie Chan focusing more as action mysteries. It is a step up from the uneven CHARLIE CHAN IN HONOLULU. You never do find out what happened to the guys who stole the car and clothes from Charlie Chan's number two son. Charlie Chan is at the center of the film more than the last one.

CHARLIE CHAN AT TREASURE ISLAND is the best film of the set. Chan goes up against a mysterious psychic (Dr. Zodiac) who is linked to a few so-called suicides. The plot and lighting is fantastic in this film. Mixing Treasure Island and the world of psychic frauds is a bonus.

CHARLIE CHAN IN THE CITY OF DARKNESS mixes propaganda about the upcoming war in 1939. It is unusual not to see a murder happen until almost a half hour into the film and the ending is different from your usual Charlie Chan. His number two son is absent, but Chan has a sidekick in the form of a wannabe French detective.

SPECIAL FEATURES:
The fourth collection includes a wealth of featurettes, an audio commentary for CHARLIE CHAN AT TREASURE ISLAND, still galleries for each film, restoration comparisons for each film, and one theatrical trailer which has survived.

CHARLIE CHAN IN HONOLULU:
REINVENTING CHARLIE CHAN- The changes that occurred in the last days of Warner Oland including the Chan films that never were, the casting process for the new Charlie Chan (over 20 actors were tested), and the changes made to the series after the first film Toler played as Chan.
SYDNEY TOLER: THE MAN WHO BECAME CHAN- a brief history of Sydney Toler's life, his acting roles, and his time as Chan (he got 20th Century Fox to agree to sell the rights to Monogram Pictures after Fox tired of the Chan pictures).

Also on the disc is a still gallery of publicity stills and a re-creation of a lost Chan film- Charlie Chan's Courage- which can be skipped.

CHARLIE CHAN IN RENO:
WELCOME TO RENO: AMERICA'S DIVORCE RESORT- a look at the divorce industry of Reno during the 1930s, the judges, and the dude ranches that catered to divorcees.
RENO MEMORIES- A cowboy remembers his time at a Reno divorce ranch (aka dude ranch), a story about a drive with Clark Gable and Ava Gardner, and his first wife.
CHAN'S KILLER ACTRESS: KAY LINAKER- the actress talks about her acting career and starred in five Charlie Chan films (CHARLIE CHAN IN RIO and CHARLIE CHAN'S MURDER CRUISE aren't out on DVD yet).
In addition to the still gallery for this film, the original theatrical trailer is included.

CHARLIE CHAN AT TREASURE ISLAND:
THE REAL TREASURE ISLAND- Treasure Island was first intended as an airport, the 1939 San Francisco World Fair put on to celebrate the finishing of two bridges (one being the Golden Gate), and the fair's buildings being demolished by the Army. Old footage of the World fair is included.
CHARLIE CHAN AND THE ZODIAC- Zodiac experts talk about how the Zodiac killer may have been inspired by Dr. Zodiac and CHARLIE CHAN AT TREASURE ISLAND
The still gallery on the disc includes behind-the-scenes photos in addition to publicity stills. An audio commentary by Film Critic Ken Hanke and Film Historian John Cork was recorded for the film.

CHARLIE CHAN IN THE CITY OF DARKNESS:
THE MAKING OF "CHARLIE CHAN IN THE CITY OF DARKNESS"- a focus on how a Charlie Chan film came to be a propaganda film about the second World War that was unavoidable.
WRITING CHAN: ROBERT ELLIS AND HELEN LOGAN- A writing duo that penned many Charlie Chan films, two kid star films, musicals, and westerns among others.

Also included is the original theatrical trailer and a still gallery of publicity and film stills.

FINAL ANALYSIS: The first four films to feature a different actor as Charlie Chan show the Chan films can be great without Warner Oland. They change for a different kind of Chans. Volume 4 of the CHARLIE CHAN Collection is filled with great extras in addition to two great films and two good ones.

this DVD review is (c)4-2-2008 David Blackwell and cannot be reprinted without permission. send all comments to lord_pragmagtic@hotmail.com  

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RELATED DVD Reviews:

CHARLIE CHAN Collection Volume 1

CHARLIE CHAN Collection Volume 2

CHARLIE CHAN Collection Volume 3

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