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PHOTOGRAPHY

TCM SPOTLIGHT:  CHARLIE CHAN COLLECTION

DVD Review by David Blackwell

 

DARK ALIBI- 62 min

DANGEROUS MONEY- 66 min

THE TRAP- 68 min

THE CHINESE RING- 68 min

 

VIDEO:  1.33:1 (Full Frame)

AUDIO:  English 2.0 Dolby Digital

Subtitles:  English SDH, French, Spanish

 

STUDIO:  Warner Bros. Home Entertainment/ Monogram Pictures/ TCM

RELEASE DATE:  6-8-2010

DARK ALIBI (1946 - Charlie Chan (Sidney Toler) races against time to prove the innocence of a man framed for murder (and stop the execution).   The plot involves forged fingerprints, bank robberies, and a theatrical props warehouse.   This Chan film has Chattanooga Brown which some people see the character as racist, but he is an entertaining comic foil (despite how he fits the stereotype of blacks in film at the time the film was being made).   Brown plays off Chan's Number Two and Number Three sons very well like a well oiled comedic duo.

 

DANGEROUS MONEY (1946)- Charlie Chan investigates the murder of a federal agent (on the trail of hot money) on an ocean cruise to Samoa.  Number Two Son and Chattanooga Brown aim to help Chan solve it.   This Chan film is my favorite on this set providing plenty of details that help adds layers to the story.   DARK ALIBI is also as good as this Chan, but I pick this one as a favorite.   It's interesting how this Chan film ties in the effects of World War Two on money and art, and what happened after the war.   The Chan films do tie into World War Two before and after more than once.   CHARLIE CHAN IN PARIS foreshadowed the war and was very well into what was happening where DANGEROUS MONEY looks at the effects of the war after it ended.

 

THE TRAP (1946)- It is the last Charlie Chan movie to star Sidney Toler as the venerable detective.   THE TRAP has its enjoyable moments, but the plot feels so random and it is one of the worst Charlie Chan films that I have watched.  

 

Chan and his assistants (Number Two Son and Chattanooga Brown) investigate murders of showgirls at a beach house in Malibu.   Chan uncovers many secrets that people don’t want discovered.   Brown doesn't correctly hear what is being said when Chan is called (and he tells Chan his son is dead where the Chinese girl is actually asking for Chan's son to come investigate a murder).   Everyone at the beach house is a suspect as Chan discovers the clues and the housekeeper is a hoot (with her all drink is evil attitude).

 

THE CHINESE RING (1947)-  Roland Winters makes his debut as Charlie Chan,.   His performance of the character is different from how Warner Oland and Sidney Toler played Chan.   His Chan seems a little low key compared to the other two Chans.   Chan investigates the murder of a Chinese princess who went to Charlie for help.  Chan discovers plans to buy airplanes for her brother’s army and missing money that two Captains are involved with (Captain Kong of the Shanghai Maid and Captain Kelso of Kelso Aviation) , and a bank that handled the money of the Princess.   This Chan mystery takes place in San Francisco and includes San Francisco’s Chinatown.   Chan’s Number Two son isn’t in most of this film.

 

EXTRAS:  No extras on this release.

 

QUALITY:   The sound is clear and the prints look clear with some damage that is more noticeable in some Chans more than the others.  Overall, video quality is good and whatever damage that crops up every once-in-a-while doesn’t detract from watching this Charlie Chan films.

 

FINAL ANALYSIS:   TCM presents four more Charlie Chan tales to be enjoyed by Chan fans and mystery fans.   THE TRAP is my least favorite Chan in this set and the films are mixed with mystery, action, humor, and some fine Charlie Chan moments.  I hope TCM gets the chance to release more Charlie Chan films through TCM SPOTLIGHT.

 

This DVD review is (c)6-15-2010 David Blackwell and cannot be reprinted without permission.  Send all comments to lord_pragmagtic@hotmail.com