We generally devote our much heralded Monday Quiz to real subjects and not fictional characters. Today we make, in our view, a much justified exception.

If Charlie Chan is not one of classic movies’ most beloved detectives, then he’s certainly not far from top of the list. Our cherubic, inscrutable character — who cheerfully mangles the language as he spouts pointed aphorisms — began his adventures on the big screen in 1926.  Some 50 films and at least a dozen tv editions later, Charlie Chan lives on.

He is, writes Yunte Huang, author of Charlie Chan (W.W. Norton &Co., 2010), America’s first beloved Chinaman.  As a ubiquitous cultural icon, whose influence on the twentieth century remains virtually unexamined, Charlie Chan does not yield easily to ideological reduction. ‘Truth,’ to quote our honorable detective, ‘like football — receive many kicks before reaching goal.’ 

Let’s see how much you know about the screen life and origins of this great character.  As usual, answers tomorrow.

1) Question:  The character of Charlie Chan first appeared in novel form at the hands of which one of the following authors?  a) Raymond Chandler; b) William Faulkner; c) Earl Derr Biggers; or d) S.S. Van Dine.

2) Question:  The character of Charlie Chan was based on the antics of a real police detective of Chinese extraction. a) True; or b) False.

3) Question:  Which of the following actors did NOT play Chan on the big screen?  a) Warner Oland; b) Sidney Toler; c) Roland Winters ; or d) J. Carrol Naish.

4) Question:  Chan shared the screen with two prominent black actors who were later criticized for racial stereotyping.  Can you identify them?  a) Paul Robson; b) Stepin Fetchit; c) Mantan Moreland; or d) Herbert Jeffrey.

 5) Question:  What does Life With Luigi, the CBS radio program of the late Forties, have in common with Charlie Chan? a) Nothing; b) Both were played by J. Carrol Naish; c) Both were samples of ethnic programming in mid-20th century America; or d) Both were hugely popular.

6) Question: The character of Chan was largely inspired by the beauty of a key American location.  Was it?  a) Hoboken, New Jersey; b) The Hawaiian island of Oahu; c) Santa Monica, California; or d) Nice, France.

7) Question: One of the actors who played Chan on the big screen (see question three) made a notable appearance in the first “talkie” ever made in Hollywood.  Can you name the actor, and the role he played in that picture?

8) Question:  When Hollywood-produced Charlie Chan movies first played in China, audiences there felt patronized and insulted causing the hasty withdrawal of the movies.  a) True; b) False.

9) Question: Which of the following was NOT uttered by Chan onscreen?  a) ‘Action speak louder than French’; b) ‘Door of opportunity swings both ways’; c) ‘Falling hurts least those who fly low’; d) ‘Check, please.’

10) Question:  Chan’s nasty screen opposite was the Dr. Fu Manchu character best played by which of the following? a) Boris Karloff b) Warner Oland; c) Bella Lagosi; or d) Sessue Hayakawa.

Did you like this? Share it: