Tuesday, March 14, 2006
Charlie Chan Returns Again
Can actress Lucy Liu (who scored big as one the angel detectives in the big screen remake of Charlie's Angels) single-handedly revive the Charlie Chan film franchise? Well, here's one movie fan who hopes she can. As a child, the Charlie Chan mystery movies were always a source of enjoyment for me whenever they played on The Late Movie. I was a pretty dedicated Charlie Chan fan back then. I collected Charlie Chan comics and even watched the Saturday morning animated series Charlie Chan and the Chan Clan. The character of Charlie Chan, who was created by writer Earl Derr Biggers, first appeared in a talking film, portrayed by E.L. Park, in Behind That Curtain in 1929. The most famous actors to play the great Chinese detective were Warner Oland, Sidney Toler and Roland Winters, in the popular film series of the 30s and 40s. Television star Ross Martin (The Wild Wild West) took a turn in 1973's The Return of Charlie Chan. That film was releases theatrically in Europe, but wasn't seen in the U.S. until 1979, amidst protests that a non-Asian actor was once again playing Chan. The character did return to the big screen in 1981, portrayed by (once again, a non-Asian) Peter Ustinov, in Charlie Chan and the Curse of the Dragon Queen. Now comes word that Lucy Liu will star as Charlie Chan's granddaughter in Charlie Chan, which is scheduled to be released by 20th Century Fox in 2007. The film has been described by screenwriter Dan McDermott as "a credible passing of the baton" from one generation of Chan detectives to the next. Liu will also be executive producer on the project. Jennifer Klein will produce. For more information on the original 20th Century Fox/Monogram film series check out www.CharlieChan.net.