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Sunday, November 22, 2009

CHARLIE CHAN IN PARIS (1935)


While it’s not exactly loaded with Gallic flavor (there's an apache dance routine, but not a French accent in sight) & the paceless megging from Lewis Seiler is all too typical for the series, this CHAN pic is one of Warner Oland’s best outings as the famous Chinese detective and it wins you over. The parallel storylines (romantic blackmail & counterfeit banknotes) are smartly structured and topped by the debut appearance of Charlie’s eldest, Key Luke as Lee Chan (not yet dubbed Number One Son), adding charm, fun, a bit of danger and nice sentiment to the usual mix. Their affectionate banter is a delightful surprise & oddly touching, quite special from non-white performers at the time.* MR MOTO fans will note that Eric Rhodes encores his characterization & his character’s gimmick from here in MYSTERIOUS MR MOTO/’38. They’ll also note the general superiority of MOTO moviemaking.

*I know, I know, Warner Oland was Swedish. On the other hand, Key Luke was born in Canton, China. Guess which one uses the heavy Chinese accent?

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