When Warner Oland passed away in 1938, 20th Century Fox needed to find a new actor to portray Charlie Chan. They had already done some rewrites on the latest Chan script and teamed Keye Luke as Chan’s number one son with Peter Lorre’s Mr. Moto and the film was released as Mr. Moto’s Gamble as opposed to Charlie Chan at Ringside.
Next up came character player Sidney Toler who assumed the role in Charlie Chan in Honolulu. Toler would play the famed sleuth a total of 22 times up to his death in 1946. He also made the move from 20th Century over to Monogram when the series switched studios. The first film at Monogram came in 1942 with Charlie Chan in the Secret Service.
My enjoyment of these films with both Oland and Toler never waivers. See a gallery of Warner Oland titles here.
“If befriend donkey, expect to be kicked.”
“Elusive offspring, like privacy, sometimes hard to find. ”
“Mice only play when cat supposed to be in bed.”
“Slippery man sometimes slip in own oil.”
“Three murders. All different. Dog cannot chase three rabbits at same time. Manning Case like modern highway. Sooner or later come to detour. ”
“Number Two Son like flea on dog – always must have fine tooth comb to find same. ”
For the Toler films special mention must go to both Victor Sen Yung and Mantan Moreland.
I really like Toler as Chan – well, the Fox films anyway, which are really dripping in atmosphere for the most part. The lower budget Monogram movies are, let’s say, scrappy.
The monogram films in general fit that bill. So yes his earlier efforts are far more “classy” with 20th Century behind them.