19 March 2008 | eschetic-1
Still lost as of 2008, but a shadow found
Who wouldn't want to find a lost Chan film? ...especially one from the early Warner Oland years when Fox was lavishing first rate writing talent on the solid Biggers inspired films.
No one has yet unearthed an actual print (in '34 at the end of the circulating run of a film more than a few well worn prints made their way into the private collections of local projectionists, so there may still be hope), but in issuing the original Chan films still in their vaults on lovingly restored DVDs, 20th Century Fox has included a "recreation" of this lost film (studio actors reading from the production script while production stills are shown of the scenes being read) as a "Bonus Feature" on the first of the Sidney Toler Chans, CHARLIE CHAN IN HONOLULU (in the 4th set of Fox Chan DVDs). They had done this once before with a "reading" of CHARLIE CHAN'S CHANCE on the DVD of THE BLACK CAMEL in the third set.
As was the case on the ...CHANCE reading, the actors for the reading are not remotely appropriate to the original actors shown or characters as written (hence the low ranking), but based on this bare bones reading and the photos, the actual film - based on the Biggers novel "The Chinese Parrot" - should be a solid addition to the canon when eventually found. Chan is hired to deliver "the Cavanaugh Pearls" from Honolulu to a San Fransisco jeweler's and on to the buyer (despite ambiguous directions as to his location) when the reluctant seller's son's poor management has left her estate nearly bankrupt.
Naturally complications ensue in scenic locales - especially in San Fransisco, a ranch in the desert and various planes, trains and automobiles. No parrot seemed to be mentioned in the film version, but as was frequently the case, not everyone is who they seem and Charlie too passes himself off as "a poor Chinese laborer" to observe events - and become a suspect in a murder.