Behind that Curtain
August 8, 2010 9:32 AM   Subscribe

"He leaped from one rooftop to the next, like a “human fly.” When he reached for his whip, thugs scattered and miscreants wept. He once arrested forty gamblers in their lair, single-handed. He was a master of disguises..."
Chang Apana, the real Charlie Chan.
posted by griphus (7 comments total) 11 users marked this as a favorite

 
There has to be a market for a Chang Apana film. Do it like a Polynesian version of Guy Ritchie's Sherlock Holmes. Don't tell me you wouldn't go see that.
posted by mightygodking at 10:07 AM on August 8, 2010 [3 favorites]


Interesting to note that Warner Olund, often derided as "The Swede who played Charlie Chan" was ethnically Asian, on his mother's side - she was from Russian Mongolia.

His continental upbringing and serious dramatic resume - he married a famous playwright and they translated many of August Strindberg's plays into english, and he had a successful career on Broadway - allowed him to "pass," especially for "ethnic" roles. (He was Cantor Rabinowitz in "The Jazz Singer" for instance.) As racial attitudes in Hollywood began to harden in the '30s, he was usually cast as an "oriental" villain of some stripe if he was able to get work at all outside the Charlie Chan franchise.
posted by Slap*Happy at 10:08 AM on August 8, 2010


Am I the only one who thought it was odd that the article didn't even mention Sidney Toler, the guy who took over the Chan role after Oland died?

Also, am I the only one who loved Peter Sellers as Sidney Wang in Murder by Death?
posted by Gator at 10:49 AM on August 8, 2010


In the printed article, there's a full-page photo of Toler referring to him as the best-known actor to play Charlie Chan.
posted by griphus at 11:54 AM on August 8, 2010


...and people mock the idea of a real life superhero...
posted by Jimmy Havok at 2:27 PM on August 8, 2010


He once arrested forty gamblers in their lair, single-handed.

I'm uh...puzzled. Gambling was seen as bad?
posted by telstar at 3:40 PM on August 8, 2010


mightygodking: There has to be a market for a Chang Apana film. Do it like a Polynesian version of Guy Ritchie's Sherlock Holmes. Don't tell me you wouldn't go see that.

If you described a movie to me as "Like Guy Ritchie's Sherlock Holmes," then no, I wouldn't go see it.

Definitely rich source material for a bio-pic, though.
posted by paisley henosis at 10:59 PM on August 8, 2010


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