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50 of 50 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Now I have seen these I want more, well worth every penny!
These take me back to childhood, many a Saturday afternoon sitting in front of the fire on cold autumn day. When i ordered these i couldn't really remember much about the films except that they were one of my aunty's favorites. When i saw these at such a low price from Amazon I decided to take the chance. It has definitely paid off!!

The quality of the sound...
Published on 28 April 2006 by Jezz

versus
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Charlie Chan takes a pay cut
After 20th Century Fox finally dropped the Charlie Chan series after closing down their B-movie unit in 1942, they took the unusual step of letting star Sidney Toler shop the rights around other studios to continue the series. With the war effort in full swing and Asian detectives - even Chinese ones - considered bad for business it took him two years before finally...
Published on 27 Nov. 2011 by Trevor Willsmer


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50 of 50 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Now I have seen these I want more, well worth every penny!, 28 April 2006
By 
Jezz "Jezz Bullock" (NEWCASTLE, STAFFS United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Charlie Chan - Chanthology [DVD] (DVD)
These take me back to childhood, many a Saturday afternoon sitting in front of the fire on cold autumn day. When i ordered these i couldn't really remember much about the films except that they were one of my aunty's favorites. When i saw these at such a low price from Amazon I decided to take the chance. It has definitely paid off!!

The quality of the sound and picture are very good (for the year) and lets face it they are sixty years old or more, yet this doesn't show much and what does show only adds to the nostalgia of these brilliant films.

As soon as you start watching these films you start to remember the way Charlie gaiters across the room with that smile on his face as if thinking of a private joke. Speaking of jokes the humour in these films is also novel, Birmingham provides most of this with the expressions of his face and his big round eyes.

Not knowing much about the actors or directors means I can't comment on these, all I know is in these films they are all excellent, I hope you enjoy them as much as I have! They also will have a well earned space on my DVD shelf as they are all re-watchable and will like to pass down to my number one son who also likes them.
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25 of 25 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars At last the UK gets a decent quality Chan release, 6 Aug. 2007
By 
John Darby "flaxman low" (United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Charlie Chan - Chanthology [DVD] (DVD)
In the mid forties the Monogram studio took over production of the Charlie Chan movies after Twentieth Century Fox dropped the series in 1942. Actor Sidney Toler now owned the rights to the character, and went on to star in eleven Chan films for Monogram up until his death in 1947. This box set contains the first six of those films, and given they are less well known than the Fox films, this release is welcome. Although the Monogram films had decidedly lower budgets and production values than the Fox series, there is still much to enjoy. Of the films in this set the stand out ones are director Phil Karlson's "Shanghai Cobra", with its film noir elements, and "Meeting At Midnight", with its spooky overtones. The remaining films are somewhat weaker and are rather similar to each other, but are still entertaining. The other factor that makes this set worth considering is the very good picture and sound quality, which sets it apart from the miserable efforts contained within some other UK releases. The otherwise excellent set loses one star for not including any extras.

It is to be hoped MGM will release the remaining Monogram Chan films in due course, as it is particularly regrettable Phil Karlson's second feature in the series, "Dark Alibi", is not generally available.
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26 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Relaxtion for winter day, 13 July 2006
By 
C. P. Molony "molony40" (london) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Charlie Chan - Chanthology [DVD] (DVD)
I too have enjoyed this charlie chan box set, some of his saying are still priceless, a must for any 40 plus movie buff, a nice warm fire, comfortable chair, switch the phone off, settle down to hours of pleasure.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Perfect for any given Sunday - especially if you have Man-Flu, 5 May 2010
By 
The Truth "How it is" (UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Charlie Chan - Chanthology [DVD] (DVD)
I bought this on a whim when I suddenly got the urge to revisit my youth and buy all the old Tarzan films, and thought: why not add this to the bag?

I wasn't disappointed - it just so happened it arrived the Friday before a bad case of the Flu, which left me feeling rather ill the next day. I found old Charlie Chan the ideal companion and while I was ill; it was the just the right pace and interesting enough to keep my attention - yet requiring little effort on my part to watch.

Although you can enjoy the episodes any time you want, I think these will be best viewed when you're slightly under the weather. In bed with Man-Flu, ill on the sofa, or suffering from a hangover or tummy bug. Generally any time you feel like calling out for 'mummy' and wishing you were 6 years old again, being brought Lucozade and toast.

However - I do quickly want to add that I thoroughly enjoyed Birmingham Browns character. The guy who played him was a comic genius.

Overall - splendid viewing and extremely enjoyable if you want a trip back to your childhood; or if you want something easy to watch to while away the hours on a sunny Sunday afternoon - if that's the 'case' then Chan's your man.

Oh - and If you found this review helpful please rate it as so and if not, comment on why so I can do a better job for you next time - thanks :-)
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Charlie Chan takes a pay cut, 27 Nov. 2011
By 
Trevor Willsmer (London, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Charlie Chan - Chanthology [DVD] (DVD)
After 20th Century Fox finally dropped the Charlie Chan series after closing down their B-movie unit in 1942, they took the unusual step of letting star Sidney Toler shop the rights around other studios to continue the series. With the war effort in full swing and Asian detectives - even Chinese ones - considered bad for business it took him two years before finally poverty row studio Monogram committed to a new series. Gone were the slick production values that Fox gave the films even when they moved from A-pictures to Bs, along with the quality casting, behind the screens talent and scripts in favour of a more cheap and cheerful approach that kept the series chugging along pleasantly enough even if its glory days were behind it. MGM/UA's Chanthology ofers the first six of these Monogram releases in an extras-free set that offers decent albeit not outstanding copies that are more than acceptable considering how poor the public domain copies floating around for years have been

Not that it got off to a good start with Charlie Chan in the Secret Service, which has all the hallmarks of a picture the studio had no confidence in and just churned out as a fast and cheaply as possible to see if there was any life left in the old dog without risking too much. Most of the film plays out on just one location aside from a now infamous sequence of Toler walking through a hotel lobby and hailing a cab that drives him slowly to the murder scene while insistent dramatic music blares on the soundtrack: it's the closest thing the film has to n action sequence, but it's all too typical of the kind of padding Monogram threw into their cheapies to get them up to feature running time. Worse is to come when Chan arrives and delivers some of the most horribly unsubtle on the nose dialogue crudely setting up character background to the cop on the case you're likely to hear outside of a home movie or un film de Robbie Moffatt.

Thankfully once Chan is on the case, things pick up, but this is still weak stuff thanks to poor writing, a lack of any real introduction to most of the suspects and a less than compellingly constructed mystery. Chan's been slightly reinvented, or at least reassigned as a Secret Service agent just to reassure the more xenophobic audience members that he's on the right side, with his remit to investigate cases with national security implications, in this case the murder of a scientist and the disappearance of the blueprints for his latest potentially war-winning invention. This time he's assisted by Number Three Son Tommy Chan (a stilted Benson Fong, nicknamed Confucius Junior here) and Number One Daughter Iris Chan (Marianne Quon), as well as - most controversially - Mantan Moreland's Birmingham Brown. A brilliant nightclub comedian, here he's cast as a cowardly servant in the murdered man's house, and it's a role that would see him criticised as an Uncle Tom figure playing a racial stereotype that would make work increasingly hard to find n the 60s. Yet for all the criticism, he's no Stepinfetchit caricature, his screen persona owing more to a Bob Hope-style comic relief cracking wise to hide his fear. Despite a couple of unfortunate gags involving a tribal mask and blackface here, his part could just as easily be played by a white actor, and - as a valued star of no-budget films on the Monogram lot - even after he went to work for Chan on a regular basis in later entries he's never treated as racially inferior.

There are a few aphorisms along the way ("If man places self in way of finger of suspicion, must not be surprised when receives poke in the eye"), but some of them are incredibly heavy handed and overwritten: "Suspicion like rain - fall upon just and unjust" is fine until the writers have Charlie go on with "You protect self with umbrella of innocence. But at moment your umbrella have big leak." It doesn't help that Toler's health problems are occasionally apparent, not least in his substantial weight loss. Thankfully, while things would never be as good as the Fox days, the series did show significant improvement in his follow-ups.

Sidney Toler's second Monogram Charlie Chan film, The Chinese Cat, is a huge improvement over his first, with a noticeably bigger budget that gets the action out of the house and into various locations, and a much better plot that zips along very pleasingly to a fairly satisfying conclusion. Along the way many of the classic ingredients are thrown into the mix: an unsolved locked room murder, a challenge from a rival criminologist, a looming 48 hour deadline to solve the case, secret passages, hidden compartments, fun houses, an ever increasing body count and the obligatory attempt on Charlie's life in a case the detective can, and does, solve with his hands tied behind his back, all put together with much more pace and wit than Charlie Chan in the Secret service could muster. Unfortunately he's assisted by Number Three Son Tommy Chan, played again with the grace of an alternately bored and overexcited chimpanzee by Benson Fong, the weak limb to which no family tree may point with ride who's largely there to give his father someone to amiably insult ("Your assistance about as welcome as water in a leaking ship"), though he does stand up to torture surprisingly well. A more welcome return is Mantan Moreland's Birmingham Brown, now employed as a cabby reluctantly ferrying the Chans from corpse to corpse and no longer required to stand in front of African tribal masks. There's even a marked improvement in the quality of aphorisms ("Expert is merely man who makes quick decision and is sometimes right"), which were in noticeably short supply last time round. The budget doesn't quite stretch to making the funhouse finale work too well, but there's more than enough to enjoy along the way to make this perhaps the best of Toler's Monogram Chans.

"Shadey business do not make for sunny life."

As the obligatory baffled cop on the case says, Meeting at Midnight aka Black Magic is dime novel stuff involving hypnotism, séances, mindbending drugs and murder from beyond the grave. The lazy writing makes itself apparent in the lack of interest it shows in the mundane business of uncovering clues. In one climactic confrontation Charlie describes the motives of everyone at a séance, but the film gives us no clue as to how he found them out: they're simply dropped in as clumsy exposition, but too late to have the desired effect. For much of the film one person's guess is as good as another's when it comes to who could have dunnit. Yet for all that it's an enjoyable enough entry, perhaps not as much fun as its reputation among fans of the more supernaturally inclined mysteries implies, but more than good enough to pass muster as a programmer.

At times Toler seems to be doing his best to hide his physical discomfort, his face flushed in some scenes even when sitting down, at others he seems to be genuinely having fun with a more playful performance. This time he's assisted by both Birmingham Brown (who, with his usual run of bad luck, has just started a job in the house the murder takes place) and Charlie's cheerful Number Two Daughter Frances Chan, played by one Frances Chan, who probably had the part as soon as they saw her name in the casting directory (although she'd already played Warner Oland's youngest daughter in the now-lost 1933 Charlie Chan's Greatest Case). Though she's not much more capable than her brothers, without the usual exasperated putdowns his various sons endured there's a much more easygoing chemistry this time round that makes a pleasing change from the formula that sadly wasn't repeated.

"My boy, if silence is golden, you are bankrupt."

The Jade Mask sees Charlie trying to find who murdered a scientist loathed by all who met him - he even made his own family work as his servants - to get their hands on his latest formula in a case involving sealed rooms, poison darts, ventriloquists' dummies, poison gases and life masks. This time he's aided by Number Four Son Eddie (Edwin Luke), a very expensively educated bookworm with less common sense than his elder brothers ("Every time you open your mouth, you put in more feet than centipede"), with Birmingham Brown tagging along even though he has next to nothing to do until a silly sight gag after the even sillier revelation to a mystery that sees corpses walk and anyone who knows the identity of the murderer conveniently waiting to get killed rather than telling Chan. If Eddie and Brown are just along for ballast, Al Bridge makes more of an impression as the bucolic local sheriff on the case ("Seems to me when folks asked me to run for sheriff, I missed a fine chance to keep quiet") and it's a pleasing enough Monogram entry in the series even if the solution is particularly outlandish.

"You're stupid thinking these people would murder anyone. They're too busy murdering the English language."

The Scarlet Clue may well be the best of Sidney Toler's Monogram Chan films, seeing him on the trail of a gang of murderous foreign agents after secret radar plans who are operating from a radio and TV station located in the same office building being used for radar tests and where murder victims fall eight stories up. It benefits from a novel location, though not one greatly different from the radio stations used in other 40s films like Abbott and Costello's Who Done It?, and a decent list of suspects including a blackmailing actress who sees knowing the killer's identity as a ticket to better roles (no prizes for guessing how that turns out), a theatrical ham called Horace Karklos, a Svedish janitoress and a crabby sponsor. We know who the underlings are early on, but the mastermind who communicates only by teletype and who probably taught Ernst Stavro Blofeld everything he knew about dealing with employees who fail to reach their performance targets remains veiled in mystery until the final unmasking. Benson Fong's Number Three Son is much less irritating this time round, though still the but of Charlie's retorts ("I had an idea, but it's gone now." "Possibly could not stand solitary confinement.") and Mantan Moreland gets the chance to do two great but brief routines with is nightclub partner Ben Carter that are terrific bits of wordplay.

Unlike the previous entries, which used US prints complete with wartime savings bond tags, this title is sourced from a UK print with some scratches, but nothing too distracting.

"Cannot sell bearskin before shooting bear."

Unfortunately, The Shanghai Cobra is a step down. At it's heart there's a decent yarn about a suspect who escaped custody during the bombing of Shanghai that left him in dire need of plastic surgery who might just be involved in a series of murders involving cobra venom that are related to a plot to steal radium from an American bank. Unfortunately the plotting is overly complicated enough to make you lose track of who is doing what to who and the execution pedestrian enough for you to not care that much. It feels like it's been rushed before the cameras while it's still being written in another room, the romantic subplot being given a bit more screentime than the usual take-it-for-granted attitude of other entries to pad out the running time - you even get to see that thrilling footage of Charlie hailing a taxi from Charlie Chan in the Secret Service again. Surprisingly Mantan Moreland and Benson Fong are given little to do this time round: they're just hanging around the sidelines waiting for someone to give them something to do, but no-one seems to know quite what to do with them aside from one clumsily executed u-turn/you turn gag. There are a few memorable images thrown up, not least a bizarre jukebox setup which is linked to room where the customers can be spied on by a giant television screen, but like so much else it's never very clear how this is supposed to work. There is one nice in-joke where Charlie finds the hidden mechanism to open the door to a badly hidden room and things pick up a bit for the explosive raid itself, but it's all too scrappily put together to work that well.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Six of the best Chan's from the Toler/Monogram era..., 21 May 2011
By 
Robster (Watford, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Charlie Chan - Chanthology [DVD] (DVD)
This is an absolutely cracking anothology. Brilliant stuff for movie buffs...

Here you get 6 of the best Chan's from the Monogram era with Sidney Toler at the helm and I think he's perfect for the part. He's assisted by Mantan Moreland as the constantly spooked Chauffeaur, Birmingham Brown, who is outstanding throughout and often steals the show with his comic routines.

Picture quality is exceptional given the age of the source material, the audio crackles a bit at times, but that's all part of the enjoyment, isn't it?

Basically, you're getting six doses of murders, secret passageways, trap doors and bags and bags of atmosphere.

This is perfect rainy Saturday afternoon or late night viewing. Essential.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good, but one fault, 22 May 2011
By 
MARK C. BALE (SWANSEA, WEST GLAM UNITED KINGDOM) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Charlie Chan - Chanthology [DVD] (DVD)
I always enjoy the Chan films - in fact unlike most fans I prefer Sidney Toler over Warner Oland. This set which I bought of Amazon recently is good fun with generally good prints for Monogram poverty row products.

Only downside of this set is that I cannot get disc 2 to play at all. I get the MGM DVD home entertainment logo, but then the screen goes black and freezes. No remote control button pressing will proceed to the menu. I have emailed MGM home entertainment. One other annoying thing about the set is the each movie menus are just chinese symbols (eg ">" for play) with no English words. I had to fathom out what they meant.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Chan, 27 April 2012
This review is from: Charlie Chan - Chanthology [DVD] (DVD)
Chantology is a first-rate set of DVDs. The box set was delivered quickly, and complements the two Chan sets I already own (Toler and Oland). To modern tastes the whole series will seem dated (obviously), but with this proviso, I can thoroughly recommend all the Chan films.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good and enjoyable, 26 Mar. 2012
By 
Ms. Nicola J. Booth "Nicola" (Guildford, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Charlie Chan - Chanthology [DVD] (DVD)
My own personal opinion, each actor playing Charlie Chan, brings their own slant on how to play Charlie Chan, each is just as enjoyable as the other - all down to personal taste really. I have taken to the comedy relief character Birmingham Brown. I've watched 2 of the films so far, and note there seems to be a bit more comedy in these, it adds to the charm of the films. I'm sure we will stumble across Number 2 son in the films. Worth the price. Good clean honest entertainment.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Bring back Chan, 1 April 2008
By 
J. Southern (London) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Charlie Chan - Chanthology [DVD] (DVD)
A trip down memory lane from when these films were shown on Sunday afternoons in my childhood. This is a good quality reproduction and features all the capers that are typical of Chan. Not the best mystery plot you'll see iin a film, but if you enjoyed Chan or like black and white classics then you should enjoy this.
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Charlie Chan - Chanthology [DVD]
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