Black Camel1931

Genre: Crime, Mystery, Thriller
"Hollywood is famous furnisher of mysteries," observes the honorable Honolulu detective, Charlie Chan, in The Black Camel. And few cinematic sleuths are as renowned or beloved as Chan. As the chief of police proclaims in Charlie Chan at Monte Carlo, "All the world knows of Charlie Chan." For devotees of Earl Derr Biggers' literary creation, this is an essential boxed set that marks the beginnings and the end of the franchise's Warner Oland golden era. In addition to vintage treats such as The Black Camel (1931), the earliest known-existing Chan film to star Oland as the iconic sleuth, it also contains intriguing extras, including the 1929 film Behind the Curtain, which features E.L. Park as Chan in this character's first (albeit fleeting) screen appearance in a Fox film (and, like butler Jeeves' mere one-sentence walk-on in the P.G. Wodehouse short story "Extricating Young Gussie," it is a most inauspicious beginning for such a towering figure in popular culture). The Swedish-born Oland portrayed Chan in 16 films. This set includes his last two as Chan before his untimely death in 1938, Monte Carlo and Charlie Chan on Broadway, both released in 1937. Give your regards to Broadway, in which a dame "still hot enough to blister" is murdered over an incriminating diary. This set also includes the eerie Charlie Chan's Secret (1936). The films are a bit creaky, but that's part of the fun. Each has its charms and delights, from the rat-a-tat New York slang that baffles Chan in Broadway to his signature aphorisms that range from the sage ("Though loved one seem to be taken away, remain always near") to the puzzling ("Sometimes very difficult to pick up pumpkin with one finger"). Keye Luke provides comic relief as enthusiastic No. 1 son in Monte Carlo and Broadway. Camel features Robert Young in his official screen debut and Bela Lugosi, fresh from Dracula, as a sinister mystic with too much influence on an actress with a skeleton in her closet. The audio commentaries on Camel and Secret are efficient and informative (did you know that Goldfinger villain Odd Job was styled on Chan's look?). Other entertaining segments unearth Oland's career, Chan's influence on detective fiction, and those "Chan-isms." Also fascinating is a re-creation of Charlie Chan's Chance, one of four lost Oland/Chan films. For those who have yet to make Charlie's acquaintance, this Chan-tastic collection is an excellent introduction. As one admiring cop states in Broadway, "You just think you have (met a detective). Now, go and meet Charlie Chan." --Donald Liebenson

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"Black Camel Quotes." STANDS4 LLC, 2018. Web. 21 Mar. 2018. < Camel>.

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