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I seem to be the only one who even remembers this TV show. As a matter
of fact, I used to think that J. Carroll Naish was the only person to
play Charlie Chan, but that was before I discovered the movies. Naish
seemed to be very comfortable playing anything but what he was -
German-Irish - but he specialized in "exotics" (meaning Asians - then
called Orientals - and East Indian mystics. He even played a few
Italians and even Mafiosi) I remembered one particular mystery where a
boxer dies in the ring but from a gunshot wound. I particularly
remember it because the very same mystery was used in a Mr. Moto
picture, an episode of "Burke's Law" and the 1975 Ellery Queen series
starring Jim Hutton and David Wayne. I won't spoil it for you in case
you happen to come across any of the three versions - and I suspect
there were more) As his "inscrutable" American son, I USED to think it
was actor Benson Fong who had already appeared in the movie series with
two other Chan actors as different sons but having since seen several
episodes on DVD, I found that it was actor James Hong when he was very
young. Another thing I found where my memory was faulty, was the
episode with boxing in it was a kick-boxing plot. Plus, the entire
series was filmed in England, and Naish's interpretation of Chan
differed not at all, in terms of accent at least, from the character he
played as the evil Dr. Daka in a Batman serial. There are few of the
famous aphorisms regularly spouted by Chan in any of the series films
which is somewhat of a disappointment. A minor drawback is the absence
of the famous Charlie Chan goatee and bowler hat replaced by a straight
mustache, a straight bow-tie and a fedora. The opening shot of Naish as
Chan coming from out of the London fog is still impressive, as are the
Chinese titles that change to say "The New Adventures Of Charlie Chan."
It is particularly cool that Naish also was in a couple of the Chan
entries when they were still at 20th Century Fox. I even caught an
uncredited appearance of actor Victor Sen Yung in a teaser for the show
(the opening cliffhanger) who had played number two son Jimmy Chan as
well as Hop Sing, the Chinese cook on Bonanza.
What I definitely remember it was fun and riveting at least for a 7 year old boy in front of the old Philco TV.
Later, Naish returned to TV in a comedy series called "Westward Ho" playing an American Indian named Hawkeye. Another fond childhood memory. Another great character actor who worked almost to the very end and never became a star.
I came across the other review as I was viewing the screen record of James Hong who was acting in 2008 version of The Day the Earth stood Still. Looking at Hongs' Screen Career and all the early TV series he appeared in is like looking at a Who's Who of Television? He has appeared in such revered episodes as Sugarfoot with Will Hutchins, Cheyenne with Clint Walker,Wagon Train with Robert Horton,Have Gun Will Travel with Richard Boone,Rawhide with a young Clint Eastwood and Bonanza with the late Lorne Greene and Michael Landon to name a few. In Charlie Chan with J.Carrol Naish he was always the Number One Son who helped Naish right the wrongs and I imagine Hong has NEVER been unemployed in his life.A wonderful actor,never THE star sometimes sad,funny or serious but always so watchable.
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