Category: Charlie Chan
Release Date: 1938
Sidney Toler bought the film rights from Fox studios and released this as the first of more than 20 Charlie Chan films, featuring himself in the title role. Mr. Toler is actually an American of Scottish descent, so once again the title role of a Chinese character is played by a non-Asian character.
While these films continued to be successful, they were possibly even more racially offensive than those of Warner Oland's era, due to the inclusion of a character for the purpose of comic relief named Birmingham Brown, who as you can well imagine was an African American. So, between the Asian stereotypes and self-deprecating African American character, the Charlie Chan films continued to reinforce the social ineptitudes of the times.
In defense of Mr. Toler, he played the role of Charlie as a bolder, stronger character, who wasn't afraid to show contempt for others. The times were slowly changing and while having a non-Caucasian leading character was a bold step in the first place, allowing him to have pride, self-respect and not shrink in fear of Caucasians was something entirely new.
Created: 25 Aug 2012 11:39
Updated: 16 Sep 2012 13:26
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