Sunday, March 29, 2009

The International Chan of Mystery (8/24/06)

Midnight in Monte Carlo. A shot rings out! Who do the local police call to solve the murder? Why, Charlie Chan! Chan was created in 1925 by Earl Derr Biggers, and soon became a phenomenon. Known for his ice-cream suits, huge family, and timely aphorisms (delivered in broken English), Charlie was modeled on the real-life detective, Chang Apana. Based in Honolulu, Charlie traveled the world solving cases in London, Paris, Egypt, and even the Berlin Olympics! Despite his popularity (6 novels, 47 motion pictures, and an animated cartoon series), Chan was a controversial figure. Asian American activists claimed he was a stereotype, but Charlie was invariably the most honest, decent, and smartest character in any of the stories. An upcoming film will star Lucy Liu as Charlie's granddaughter, upholding the family business of crime-busting. Such cross-casting may seem odd, but as Charlie himself once said, "Woman's intuition like feather on arrow: May help flight to truth."

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