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Charlie Chan Chanthology

Charlie Chan Chanthology

3.8 6
Director: Phil Karlson, Phil Rosen

Cast: Sidney Toler, Helen Beverly

This six-disc box recreates the old MGM/UA Charlie Chan laserdisc set of the late '80s in a more convenient format and size and at a much lower price. The first six of Monogram Pictures' mid-'40s revived Chan series films are here, in generally very good states of preservation and remastering, with no frills whatsoever -- no trailers or other bonus materials,


This six-disc box recreates the old MGM/UA Charlie Chan laserdisc set of the late '80s in a more convenient format and size and at a much lower price. The first six of Monogram Pictures' mid-'40s revived Chan series films are here, in generally very good states of preservation and remastering, with no frills whatsoever -- no trailers or other bonus materials, and only English, French, and Spanish subtitles as options. The films are pretty stripped down, none running much beyond 65 or 66 minutes (nor did they need to). They've all been generously chaptered, however, and they are a lot of fun as mysteries -- mostly involving wartime spies and saboteurs -- even if they creak a bit around the edges today. There are also some unexpected virtues, principally in the form of Mantan Moreland's presence as driver Birmingham Brown. Sidney Toler is excellent in the role of Chan, expressing amusing impatience with the antics of his No. 3 and No. 4 sons, and even a daughter or two, but he's nearly shown up at times by Moreland, who takes what could have been a stereotyped role and turns it into the second smartest man (after Chan) in these movies.

Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble - Ed Hulse
Few fictional detectives are more beloved than Earl Derr Biggers’s Charlie Chan, the Chinese-Hawaiian hawkshaw whose adventures were chronicled in six books, nearly 50 feature films, a TV series, a continuing radio drama, and even comic books. MGM’s “Chanthology” collects the first six Chan films released in the mid-‘40s by Monogram Pictures, which took over the franchise after 20th Century Fox relinquished it in 1942. Sidney Toler, who inherited the role in 1938, stayed on as Chan, accompanied by Benson Fong as “number three son” Tommy and African-American comedian Mantan Moreland as chauffeur Birmingham Brown. Monogram, at that time still one of Hollywood’s “Poverty Row” studios, couldn’t afford the production appurtenances or star-studded supporting casts lavished on the Chan films by Fox, but it retained the basic whodunit format, and the character’s charisma survived intact. With World War II exerting an influence on motion pictures as well as everything else, several of Charlie’s ‘40s cases found espionage or subversive activity underpinning mysterious murders. The Scarlet Clue (1945), arguably the best film in this collection, pits Chan against an unknown assassin trying to obtain the plans to a top-secret radar device. Wartime elements also figure prominently in the first of the Monogram series, Charlie Chan in the Secret Service, which introduces the character of Birmingham. Moreland, whose pop-eyed, scaredy-cat characterization still rankles many African Americans, gets ample opportunity to emote in The Chinese Cat (1944) and Meeting at Midnight (1945), two above-average entries. Oriental motifs lend exotic atmosphere to The Jade Mask and The Shanghai Cobra (also 1945 releases). Chan buffs generally prefer the Fox films (currently unavailable on DVD), but the Monograms have their own charms, and they’re very well remembered by baby boomers who saw them frequently on TV in the ‘50s and ‘60s. The Charlie Chan mysteries, with their red-herring characters, confusing clues, and last-reel explanations, provided the template for countless imitations on both big screens and small; such popular, relatively recent TV shows as Murder, She Wrote and Diagnosis: Murder sport the same formula that the Chan films first made popular more than 70 years ago.

Product Details

Release Date:
Mgm (Video & Dvd)
Region Code:

Special Features

Closed Caption; [None specified]

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Sidney Toler Charlie Chan
Helen Beverly Norma Duncan
Mantan Moreland Birmingham Brown
Benson Fong Tommy Chan,Tommie Chan
Edwin Luke Eddie Chan,Edward
Gwen Kenyon Inez Arranto
Joan Barclay Paula Webb
Joan Woodbury Leah Manning,Leah Manning (The Chinese Cat)
James B. Cardwell Ned Stewart
Marianne Quon Iris Chan
Betty Blythe Mrs. Manning
Frances Chan Frances Chan
Helen Deveraux Diane Hall
Janet Warren Jean
Walter Fenner Inspector Harry Davis
Arthur Loft Jones
Edith Evanson Lousie
George Chandler Taxi Dispatcher,Short Order Cook
James Flavin Jarvis
Joseph Crehan Matthew
Robert E. Homans Capt. Flynn
Addison Richards Jan Van Horn,John Adams

Technical Credits
Phil Karlson Director
Phil Rosen Director
Earl Derr Biggers Source Author

Scene Index

Side #1 -- Charlie Chan in the Secret Service
1. Main Title/Bombs Away [:08]
2. Charlie on the Case [5:06]
3. Death Became Him [2:45]
4. The Cocktail Hour [6:10]
5. By the Book [5:12]
6. "It's No Bouquet" [3:17]
7. Private Eye [2:10]
8. Stranger Than Fiction [4:10]
9. He Who Holds the Keys [6:04]
10. Electric Company [2:05]
11. Lights Out [2:21]
12. Who Left the Room [2:35]
13. Closet Case [2:45]
14. Murder He Wrote [4:28]
15. Three's a Charm [5:43]
16. Last Shot/End Credits [4:18]
Side #2 -- The Chinese Cat
1. Main Title/Checkmate [:08]
2. Lady in Waiting [2:48]
3. "Murder By Madame" [6:44]
4. The Watchmen [2:17]
5. Who Wants to Know [1:17]
6. The Tables Are Turned [1:31]
7. "Pop Goes the Case" [7:06]
8. Scene of the Crime [3:15]
9. Tick Tock [4:51]
10. Hidden Treasures [1:44]
11. Seeing Ghosts [2:26]
12. Chasing the Dead [3:30]
13. Full of Gas [3:08]
14. In the Funhouse [5:56]
15. Cat's Meow [9:30]
16. Ride Over/End Credits [3:48]
Side #3 -- The Jade Mask
1. Main Title/Stranger Outside [:08]
2. The Gatekeeper [2:36]
3. Only Charlie Can [7:51]
4. "A Good Man" [2:46]
5. Call to Order [:34]
6. Frightening the Bell Boy [5:02]
7. Number Four Son [1:01]
8. House of Suspect [4:39]
9. Nobody Did It [1:23]
10. Mistaken Identities [4:00]
11. "The Congregation" [3:55]
12. Strange Inventions [4:17]
13. The Night Watch [5:00]
14. The Chamber [3:09]
15. An Ear for an Ear [7:29]
16. Unmasked/End Credits [3:02]
Side #4 -- Meeting at Midnight
1. Main Title/Magic Book [:08]
2. A Ghost and a Murder [3:01]
3. Hands-On Investigation [3:39]
4. Chan's Child a Suspect! [2:53]
5. Woman With a Motive [6:05]
6. Time to Split [4:01]
7. The Spirit World [2:34]
8. "Most Important Clue" [5:24]
9. Dazed and Confused [5:02]
10. Hypnotized to Death [5:55]
11. "Relax, Mr. Chan" [6:40]
12. In a Trance [5:43]
13. "Elusive Spooks" [3:16]
14. Wordy Séance [4:23]
15. The Killer Is Revealed [1:36]
16. Tricky Ending [3:15]
Side #5 -- The Scarlet Clue
1. Main Title/Wanted Man [:08]
2. Chan on the Case [3:15]
3. Identifying Mug Shots [4:34]
4. Radio Personalities [2:39]
5. A Heel's Misstep [5:12]
6. Comic Relief [2:13]
7. Questioning the Players [2:44]
8. Electrifying Lab [2:42]
9. Blackmailing Beauty [3:00]
10. Mystery Boss [5:29]
11. A Killer Gets Shafted [3:22]
12. The Weather Tunnel [3:18]
13. The Impersonator [5:34]
14. Another Witness Dies [5:29]
15. Smoking Out a Clue [4:57]
16. The Killer Is Trapped [3:58]
Side #6 -- The Shanghai Cobra
1. Main Title/A Rainy Night [:08]
2. Calling Card [6:25]
3. Remembering Shanghai [1:28]
4. Vaulted Interest [3:31]
5. Miss Know-it-All [5:14]
6. At the Apex [1:38]
7. Suspicious Minds [1:48]
8. Clearing the Detective [2:56]
9. Last Call [2:27]
10. "No U-Turn" [1:46]
11. Snake Bites [8:18]
12. The Launderette [1:47]
13. Late-Night Transactions [3:21]
14. Juke Joint [3:29]
15. "It's Morse Code" [5:51]
16. Banking Hours/End Credits [10:23]

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Charlie Chan Chanthology 3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 6 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
My husband watched these Monogram Chan movies as a child and has introduced them to me. I can't imagine Fox being any better. I love the one-liners that Chan uses to get his message across (especially to his son). The comeradery of #3 son and Birmingham Brown is very entertaining. The who done it - suspicious to the end. I very much enjoy the Chanthology interested in more. Sidney Tolar is perfect (the only Chan worth watching per my husband) and great to me. Enjoyable, fun, mystery... all wrapped in one. Great collection! (I wasn't born until 58 so all of this is old/new and still enjoyable.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Haven't actually gotten to this collection yet (so much Chan so little time!!!) but I love Sidney Toler as Chan. Warner Oland is also excellent and no matter what reviewers and critics say, Roland Winters made a good Chan, also. Somehow, Basil Rathbone is THE ONLY Sherlock Holmes (to me). I guess Basil made Sherlock his own. But Chan makes the actor. Peter Ustinov also played Chan and who can miss with Chan???
Guest More than 1 year ago
I remember watching these movies on Saturday afternoon and enjoying every minute. They still are great and I loved every minute.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Black Magic is apparently also known as Meeting at Midnight. This information may help with the fact that different titles are listed elsewhere as being in this collection.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago