CHAN SONG D’AMOUR

It occurs to me that the subject of my last post, Charlie Chan, may be a mystery to those of you to whom such things are a mystery (things such as antique detective stories). Charlie Chan is a fictional Chinese detective (created by Earl Derr Biggers in a 1925 novel), played in movies by various actors, most famously and memorably by Warner Oland (16 films) from 1931 to 1937 and Sidney Toler (22 films) from 1937 to 1947.

I loved those movies when I was young and still enjoy watching the better ones now and then. As for the title of this post, it’s a play on the closest song title I could come up with to express that affection:

That title (being French) leads seamlessly — or should I say shamelessly — to this clip from Charlie Chan In Paris (1935):

1935 was also the year the Marx Brothers made A Night At The Opera, which has nothing to do with Charlie Chan, but serves to lead us equally shamelessly to Charlie Chan At The Opera (1936), one of the best films in the series. This movie also starred Boris Karloff and featured a “mock opera” composed by Oscar Levant, the pianist, actor and wit who was a close friend of George Gershwin. Here is the entire film:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IeV5YBDs2tc

Of course, no Charlie Chan piece would be complete without citing some of his famous aphorisms:

Owner of face cannot always see nose.

Bad alibi like dead fish — cannot stand test of time.

Detective without curiousity is like glass eye at keyhole — no use.

Grain of sand in eye may hide mountain.

It takes very rainy day to drown duck.

Smart rat know when to leave sinking ship.

Bye now.

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6 comments on “CHAN SONG D’AMOUR

  1. ladysighs says:

    I love Charlie Chan. Thanks for posting his famous words. 🙂 And enjoyed both videos.

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  2. mistermuse says:

    I don’t know if Charlie Chan ever said it, but “The pleasure is all mine.”

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  3. arekhill1 says:

    Never been a Chan fan, but thanks for taking note of the Manhattan Transfer. “Birdland” one of my favorite numbers ever.

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  4. mistermuse says:

    At first I thought you were referring to “Lullaby of Birdland” (one of my favorite jazz numbers), but they’re not the same. However, I do dig Manhattan Transfer, though I’m much more “expert” about the music of earlier decades. Someone once said there’s no such thing as “old” music – there’s only “good” music and “bad” music….which is probably true, though that makes all music merely A MATTER OF TASTE (which, as someone else said, there’s no accounting for).

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  5. Don Frankel says:

    I’m listening to this and I’m thinking Edith Piaf. But then I’m saying no her famous song was La Vie En Rose. But then I’m saying no I hear Edith Piaf. Thank God for youtube and that I still have some memory cells left.

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  6. mistermuse says:

    Don, I think you’re right – when you listen to one clip right after the other, the Manhattan Transfer rendition certainly sounds like Edith Piaf. I thought the M.T. sounded familiar, but unlike you, I couldn’t connect the two and they did the lip sync so well, I didn’t even try to jog my memory cells. Good work!

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