Film Detail

Charlie Chan at the Olympics / In Conversation with Yunte Huang

H. Bruce Humberstone / USA / 1937 / 71 min


The selection of a Charlie Chan film for an Asian American film festival might have been inconceivable until the recent publication of Yunte Huang’s remarkable book, "Charlie Chan: The Untold Story of the Honorable Detective and His Rendezvous With American History." Huang’s investigation into this most problematic of racial icons starts with the original novels and their author, Earl Derr Biggers, and then moves to Honolulu and the real detective (Chang Apana) on whom the character is based. Huang weaves in the history of the various film incarnations, especially the 20th Century Fox portion of the series, which starred Warner Oland as Charlie and Keye Luke as “Number 1 son” Lee. With dry humor and irony, Huang, himself a Chinese immigrant to the United States, explores a history of multiple layers and perspectives, allowing readers a rare opportunity to discover new dimensions to a story some may have dismissed too soon. CHARLIE CHAN AT THE OLYMPICS is one of the best and most interesting of the 16 films in which Warner Oland played the title character. The mystery centers on an airplane’s stolen radio-controlled “black box,” but greater interest is supplied by the film’s setting, the 1936 Berlin Olympics, at which America’s diversity, embodied by Jesse Owens and his four gold medals, undercuts Hitler’s case for Aryan superiority. (Most famously in film history, it’s also the setting of Leni Riefenstahl’s TRIUMPH OF THE WILL). Also notable is the genuine warmth between Oland and Luke, one of the key ingredients to the series’ success. The screening will include a conversation between Stephen Gong, Executive Director of the Center for Asian American Media, and Yunte Huang, author of "Charlie Chan: The Untold Story of the Honorable Detective and His Rendezvous With American History," followed by a book signing. Stephen Gong In Attendance: Yunte Huang, Author (The Untold Story of the Honorable Detective and His Rendezvous with American History)


  • Director: H. Bruce Humberstone
  • Cinematographer: Daniel B. Clark
  • Writer: Paul Burger
  • Editor: Fred Allen


Sun 03.13 600pm


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