Charlie Chan is a fictional Chinese-American detective. Earl Derr Biggers created the character in 1919. He loosely based the character on Chang Apana, a Honolulu detective. He created Charlie Chan with the intention of combating the Yellow Peril stereotypes that were common in films and other media at the time. He made his great detective benevolent and honorable. Many movies of the time had Asians cast as the cruel villains. Chan, often accompanied by one of his sons, was able to solve incredible mysterious that would often leave the police baffled. He was first featured in the novel The House without a key, which was published in 1925. The character was first featured in a ten-part serial of the same name in 1926. In 1929, the Fox Film Corporation acquired the rights to the character and set about producing a film starring the great detective.
These early films met with little success. It was not until a white Swedish actor, Warner Oland, was cast in the lead role, that the films became popular. The first film, Charlie Chan Carries On, was released in 1931. This film and several other Chan movies are now considered lost. Fortunately, for mystery movie fans, many others survived, and several are public domain. In several films, the copyright notice was omitted. At this time in history, a copyright notice was necessary for the film to be copyrighted, which means they can be watched on this site legally for free. Here is a list of movies featuring Charlie Chan. The ones that are believed to be public domain have a link to where that can be watched on this site.
·The House Without a Key (1926)
·The Chinese Parrot (1927)
·Behind That Curtain (1929)
·Charlie Chan Carries On (1931)
·The Black Camel (1931)
·Charlie Chan's Chance (1932)
·Charlie Chan in London (1934)
·Charlie Chan in Paris (1935)
·Charlie Chan's Secret (1936) ·Charlie Chan at the Circus (1936)
·The Scarlet Clue (1945)
·The Jade Mask (1945)
·Dangerous Money (1946)
·Dark Alibi (1946)
·The Trap (1946)
·The Chinese Ring (1947)
·The Golden Eye (1948)
Charlie Chan was also the subject of many radios shows and was featured in a short-lived TV series The New Adventures of Charlie Chan. Fifteen movies were made starring Warner Oland. When he died in 1938, Sidney Toler was brought in as a replacement. He made another 22 movies until 1947 when he died. Roland Winters played Charlie Chan is the last six films made by Fox.
Although the Charlie Chan films are still very popular, opinion is divided on the character of Charlie Chan. Some people find the character to be a good role model, while others see it as an offensive stereotype. Many argue that the character was created in response to negative stereotypes of the time, and that he had a positive impact on the culture of that era. I hope that we can still enjoy these films for what they are, good classic mystery movies.