*. A real shame. In many ways Charlie Chan at the Race Track was one of the best Chans yet. It has a script that, while complex, I actually managed to follow pretty well. There’s the interesting introduction of technical matters like blood-spatter evidence and light-triggered photo guns at the track. Charlie’s folksy wisdom is colourful and direct (“Man who flirt with dynamite sometimes fly with angels”). Director H. Bruce Humberstone uses some delightful whip pans in the final act to add to the sense of a swiftly approaching climax.
*. But I say it’s a shame because of the character of the indolent and cowardly Black groom Mainline, who is clearly a stand-in for Stepin Fetchit from Charlie Chan in Egypt. He doesn’t have any essential role to play but is only included for comic relief. And I suppose audiences at the time got some laughs out of him. But he sure doesn’t play well today.
*. What makes this all the more difficult to take is the way Keye Luke’s Number One Son on two separate occasions makes fun of Asian stereotypes to get out of trouble, with lots of bowing and “oh, vely solly!” apologies. So Asian stereotypes are to be turned on their head while Black stereotypes are fully indulged. It’s jarring.
*. Of course there are other cultural assumptions that are easy to glide by too. When Charlie tells the young man at the end that “Good wife best household furniture” we’re meant to laugh along with that as well. But at least that’s meant as a joke. I think.
*. The plot is a bit far-fetched, though apparently there really was a problem at the time with substitute horses being used as ringers that was only solved by tattooing IDs onto their inner lip. In any event, it’s basically a straight lift from Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes story “The Adventure of Silver Blaze,” and there’s nothing wrong with that. Production values are relatively high, with some good race track stuff mixed in and a fire in a horse stable (on a ship) that’s pretty impressive. Apparently Warner Oland was drinking heavily and was barely awake in some of his scenes but Humberstone found some workarounds so you don’t notice too much. It’s a shame about Mainline but I don’t believe in cleaning these things up so you’ll either have to put with him or pass.
For what purpose do you take so many screen-shots?
Were you shocked to find racism in a 1930’s Charlie Chan film?
To illustrate the film I am discussing.
No. Only pointing it out.
Those were easy.
Can you describe the devices you are using to do this? You watch a tv, right? What device plays the films? How do you get the image onto your computer?
Was the original title Charlie Chan at the Racist Track?
*sigh* *face palm*
I watch the movies on TV. Then I make the screen captures using a computer. Back before there were tablets and people watching movies on cellphones, all computers used to come with a disc drive that could be used to play DVDs.
So you see an interesting newspaper headline, bottom or bus. You then remove the disc from the tv, start your computer, copy the image, then put the disc bakc in the tv and continue watching? Every single time? Does that not drive you to distraction?
I make a note of the chapter the image appears in. Then, using my notes (which are usually made on the back of an envelope or a grocery receipt) I can find the images quickly later, either for posting with my reviews or for the quizzes. You see how quickly I’ve adapted to the technology?
It sounds like a felony. So why were you collecting ‘cinematic’ images of bare buttocks? How many have you collected? What percentage are for your own enjoyment?
In Canada and the rest of the modern world it falls under “fair use.” In Scotland it’s a perversion.
Off to the bins. Don’t bother to sigh. Not much to put out this morning.
Fair use of illicit screen-shots of bare buttocks?
You’ll need to explain this to me when your trash-humping session is over.
Try not to spill any bin-juice!
Trash is all curbed. Don’t you wish every day was garbage day?
On your blog, every day is garbage day. Hahahah, Bunty! You walked right into that one!
I never thought I’d have to explain the meaning of Silent Night Deadly Night 2 to anyone. And yet, here we are.
You’re the corpse lying beside the bin, Bunny. I’m just leaving you out there to be recycled with the organics.
hahah, I’ve been using your writings as a form of organic manure, so snap!
I can’t believe they made so many, it’s a bigger franchise than the MCU! Are you really collecting bare bum pictures or is that Dix just being Dixy?
I don’t know if I’ve even done half of them yet. They were basically like a serial and the studio just kept churning them out.
Dix is definitely being Dixy. I think he’s angling to be the lead singer for the Dixy Lads. Plus he seems to really want another man-ass quiz. I’ll see what I can pull up from my files.
I can give you a preferred man-ass list anytime you need one.
May be better than the usual line-up of random bums.
I watched Murder by Death that had a parody of Chan, along with other great detectives. If I liked that, would I probably like the original thing?
Anything that gets Dix going about woke issues can’t be all bad after all…
Well, if you like those golden age detectives then I’d recommend it. But the movies themselves are pretty slight and mainly of historical interest today. And parts of them, like the obvious racism, haven’t aged well. I think you mainly have to be a fan of ’30s B-movies generally to be into these.
I don’t care enough about movies to care one way or another 😀
So I’m guessing it will never happen….
Ah. Charlie’s a sexist. I may have to delete every comment I’ve ever praised him with. You know what the media are like.
He’s old school, and believes in the traditional ways. Remember China still had an Emperor at the time.
Are you excusing sexism, Alex? After the whole women fighting fiasco yesterday? Better not let the media see that either.
You’re going to have to remind me what the fiasco was yesterday. Not liking women fighting, or liking women fighting too much?
I’ll go for the latter.
So much for any plans on reviewing women-in-prison movies. And I was so looking forward to revisiting Caged Heat and Reform School Girls.
Afraid you’re going to have to take one for the team there. Yes, there are some masterful women-in-prison films, but, as Charlie would want, you’re going to have to wait it out with some men-in-prison films for a while. Not my decision!
Actually there are some men-in-prison movies coming up. But a couple of other theme weeks to go through first.
Ooh, exciting indeed. How far ahead do you plan the films you’re going to watch?
It’s more a question of when I get around to posting notes I’ve already made. The notes for tomorrow’s post were actually written over five years ago. That’s the last time the draft was updated. Some of the Shakespeare posts go back a long way.
Woah. That is impressive. Ok, a few more questions. Number one: how many films do you watch a year? Or, maybe easier, a week? Or even a day? Secondly, how many drafts do you currently have? As in, posts waiting to be published or touched up?
In a week maybe four. Drafts I’m not sure. Enough to tide me over the slow days, or at least until I decide to shut things down.
No! Don’t say such a thing, Alex! You’ll give me nightmares!
OK. I *say* nothing.