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Category:    Home > Reviews > Mystery > Detective > Thriller > Charlie Chan – Volume Two (20th Century Fox)

Charlie Chan – Volume Two (20th Century Fox)


Picture: C+     Sound: C+     Extras: B     Films: B+



Charlie Chan – Volume One was a very welcome release and as Fox is restoring the entire Chan series, Volume Two has followed and delivers four more great films fro the series.  As a matter of fact, the boxes are following the release order of the films, but the 1936 film Charlie Chan’s Secret divides the two boxes and may not have been ready for this release.  Hopefully, it will be included in a later set, but the first next three films are from the same year and the next four are as follows:


Charlie Chan At The Circus (1936) – Chan decides to get away from it and take his whole family to the big top, but there is nothing to clown around about when someone is killed.  A solid mystery entry and the only time in the series his whole family shows up.  They would later get their own animated series in the 1970s with The Amazing Chan & The Chan Clan.  Well directed by Harry Lachman, while J. Carrol Naish also stars.  Nash would later play Chan on TV.


Charlie Chan At The Race Track (1936) – Chan and Lee (Keye Luke) go to see the horse races, but when a mysterious death takes place, they have to take an equestrian crash course to find out why and the stakes are larger than they could have ever imagined.


Charlie Chan At The Opera (1936) – This is the all-time classic installment where Chan is pitted against an escaped criminal mastermind played by the great Boris Karloff.  Like most of these Fox installments, it is embarrassing how much stronger this is than so many a big budget production today.  The return of an opera singer Gravelle (Karloff) loves inspires him to escape the institute for the criminally insane he has been kept at.  As good as you’d imagine it is.


Charlie Chan At The Olympics (1937) – Lee and Chan go to Berlin for the 1936 Olympic Games.  Lee is part of the U.S. swim team while Chan is secretly investigating the location of a hijacked U.S. military plane with a vital guidance system.  Terrific mystery and action, made creepier (though no one quite knew this at the time) by the fact that this is the Olympics hosted by Adolf Hitler and had much of its classic documentary footage filmed by his infamous pro-Nazi director Leni Riefenstahl.



The 1.33 X 1 black and white image on all four films have been nicely restored and transferred to the point that the only limit seems to be regular DVDs 480 lines versus more in higher HD formats.  None of these films had been issued on anything other than VHS, if that, except for the Opera installment.  That was also issued as part of an Oland double feature in the old 12” LaserDisc format, but this looks better and sounds a little better.  That brings us to the Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono, which sounds pretty good on all the films.  The combination is terrific and a real pleasure to watch and rewatch.


Extras include restoration pieces on all the films on all four DVDs, while each features solid featurettes like the first volume did.  Circus has a fine Charlie Chan At The Movies featurette, Race Track offers the terrific Number One Son: The Life Of Keye Luke, Opera has Charlie Chan’s Lucky Director: H. Bruce Humberstone who directed the latter three films in this box and Olympics has Layne Tom, Jr.: The Adventures Of Charlie Chan Jr. who appears memorably in some of these films.  I cannot tell you how strong these are, making this set more than just token basic editions.  Each are very smart and loaded with interesting facts and stories.  Charlie Chan – Volume Two is a worthy follow up to the first, which you can read more about at the following link:






-   Nicholas Sheffo


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