Friday, January 01, 2010

Hyper Ape Yawn!

I'm sure everyone reading this already knows that I was given a set of Charlie Chan dvds for Christmas. In fact, if I hadn't been ill, I would have scripted a little Christmas play, "A Charlie Chan Xmas", in which a famed Chinese-American detective buys a beat-up tree for the holidays, only to discover the proprietor dead beneath it, stabbed through his carotid artery with an expensive glass ornament...

Anyway, I've managed to spend most of the holidays in the 1930's, thanks to this dvd set, and I really want to share some of the beauties of it.

For example, did anyone realize that Bela Lugosi was in one of them? Probably the best of the bunch, in terms of productions values and such, "The Black Camel" is a pretty wonderful film. Here are some shots below, showing that the cinematographer got to have a little fun, at least (apologies for the photo quality - I can't use the Grab function on my computer in conjunction with the dvd player):



Unfortunately, the whole film doesn't look quite this stylized, but it looks good, Bela looks healthy, and he has some fun dialog.

Another favorite of mine is "Charlie Chan Does London", or something like that. London is in the title, at any rate, and Warner Oland is again in the lead role. This film contains the coolest silk velvet outfit ever:



Even though the print was restored for this film, it's obvious the original was in very poor shape. This Chan movie is loaded with wonderful clothing, though. Highly recommended for 1930's fans.

There was knitting in one of them - midget knitting, as Olive Brasno knits up some thing in "Charlie Chan Goes to The Circus" (or some such title - it's Warner Oland and Keye Luke at the Circus, at any rate).  I tried to get close-ups of what she was knitting, and they are uber-crappy:

Part stockinette, then with loopy rows? chenille rows? eyelash yarn spun from the bearded lady rows? See for yourselves:

No bloody help at all. Rent the movie, folks, and then tell me what you see.

As if Bela Lugosi, silk velvet, and knitting midgets weren't enough fun, in "Charlie Chan at The Olympics" he actually rides in the Hindenburg!  Oh, alright, it's just stock footage. But stock footage of the Hindenburg! And one little bit is shot from the inside of a zeppelin (not sure it's the Hindenburg - it could have been from the Graf Zeppelin or another airship). See for yourselves:


I've still got five movies from the set to watch, so you might have to look at more crappy photos of my laptop. Apologies.

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