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Hollywood Movie Memories » warner oland

Posts Tagged ‘warner oland’

The Jazz Singer

Monday, July 30th, 2012

The Jazz Singer (Three-Disc Deluxe Edition)

Tagline – See him… and hear him sing!

Starring – Al Jolson (Jakie Rabinowitz), May McAvoy (Mary Dale), Warner Oland (The Cantor), Eugenie Besserer (Sara Rabinowitz).

Released – October, 1927

Directed By – Alan Crosland

Produced By – Warner Brothers

Distributed By – Warner Brothers

Description – In the Jewish ghetto of Manhattan’s Lower East Side, Cantor Rabinowitz expects his son Jakie to continue the time honored tradition of becoming a cantor at the local synagogue.

Jakie has a different dream. As he sings popular jazz tunes at a beer garden he is overheard by a neighbor who informs his father of his activity. Furious, Cantor Rabinowitz forbids his son to ever do this again. This will be their last contact for a long time as Jakie runs away.

Ten years pass and Jakie has changed his name to Jack Robin and made a name for himself singing jazz. After being asked to sing at a cabaret, Jack wow’s the crowd and has a chance to meet musical theater dancer Mary Dale who is so impressed with his performance that she offers to help with his career.

Mary helps Jack get a job with a vaudeville troop and now is constantly traveling around the country. Mary and Jack’s career paths cross again in Chicago where they spend a week together until Mary gets a lead role in a Broadway show.

About to board a train for the next stop in a never ending road trip, Jack learns that he has a chance to get a spot in a Broadway review which would bring him closer to Mary and his mother, who he dearly misses.

Jack surprises his mother with a visit and an expensive piece of jewelry. It happens to be his father’s 60th birthday on this day and Jack sings Blue Skies for his mother at the piano. She loves it. Now, he sings it again with a jazz edge to it, the way he will sing it on Broadway.

It is now that his father enters the room and shouts for him to stop. Jack is banished from the house.

From this point on in his life Jack will be forced to make many difficult choices in regard to his relationship with Mary, his family, and his career as a jazz singer.

NOTABLE: Warner Brothers received an honorary Academy Award for producing the pioneer talking picture that would revolutionize the motion picture industry. The Jazz Singer also received an Oscar for Best Writing, Adaptation.

In 1996, The Jazz Singer was selected for preservation in the National Film Registry by the Library of Congress.

The Jazz Singer was the first full-length motion picture with synchronized dialogue sequences. Warner Brothers used its Vitaphone sound-on-disc system.

The stage version of this production starred George Jessel, who along with Eddie Cantor, refused to play the role in the film.

The famous line “you ain’t heard nothin’ yet” was ad-libbed by Al Jolson. Originally, the sound recording was to be used only with music and not speech.

Soon to be extremely popular actress Myrna Loy played a chorus girl in one scene.

The Jazz Singer was the first full-length musical motion picture.


Charlie Chan At The Opera

Sunday, November 6th, 2011

Charlie Chan At The Opera

Tagline – A fiendish killer lurks at the opera. The masterminds of crime match wits against each other!

Starring – Warner Oland (Charlie Chan), Boris Karloff (Gravelle), Keye Luke (Lee Chan), William Demarest (Sergeant Kelly), Guy Usher (Inspector Regan).

Released – December, 1936

Directed By – H. Bruce Humberstone

Produced By –  Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation

Distributed By – Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation

Description – Opera star Gravelle, an amnesia patient at Rockland State Sanatorium, reads a newspaper article that causes his memory to begin to return. And the memories are not pleasant.

Gravelle remembers that his wife Lilli and her lover tried to murder him by locking him inside a burning theater. Enraged with thoughts of revenge, Gravelle kills a guard and escapes from the sanatorium.

Charlie Chan is called in to help find the escaped killer, and is discussing the case with Inspector Regan, when Lilli and her fellow singer and lover Enrico Barelli enter to report a threat Lilli has received stating that she will die that night. Chan and Sergeant Kelly agree to attend the opera that evening to investigate.

That evening at the opera, Phil Childers and his girlfriend Kitty try, but are turned away, to see Lilli. Chan and the Inspector arrive and overhear Enrico and Lilli’s husband arguing over Lilli. Around the same time, Gravelle appears in the dressing room of Enrico’s wife Anita. Terrified having believed Gravelle dead, Anita, furious at her husband Enrico, agrees to keep Gravelle’s presence a secret.

It is Gravelle’s plan to sing Enrico’s role this evening with his wife Lilli. When it is time for the duet, Lilli, unable to see Gravelle’s face, recognizes his voice and collapses after leaving the stage. The others rush to Enrico’s room only to find that he has been stabbed. Phil Childers checks on Lilli in her room and finds that she too has been killed.

Phil is arrested for the crime, but when questioned by Chan it is revealed that Kitty is Lilli’s daughter from her previous marriage to Gravelle and that the couple had been there to ask permission to marry.

Their conversation is heard by Gravelle who is stunned to find out that Kitty is his daughter. Phil leaves to see Inspector Regan and Gravelle enters the room. Although Gravelle speaks very gently to Kitty and plays the piano for her she does not remember him and faints from fright just as Chan enters.

Gravelle tells Chan the story of Lilli and Enrico trying to kill him and says that he did not kill the couple. Chan believes him and puts into action a plan to catch the real murderer.

NOTABLE: Warner Oland was the first actor to portray Charlie Chan, as he is most familiar, and appeared in sixteen films as the famed detective.

Boris Karloff’s singing voice in the film was that of Tudor Williams.

Composer Oscar Levant wrote the entire opera used as the background of this story.

Personal Note: Charlie Chan at the Opera is considered to be the best of the Chan series starring Warner Oland. This is due, in no small part, to the strong performance of Boris Karloff.

Charlie Chan In Paris

Thursday, February 17th, 2011

Charlie Chan In Paris (Region One USA DVD)

Starring – Warner Oland (Charlie Chan), Mary Brian (Yvette Lamartine), Thomas Beck (Victor Descartes), John Miljan (Albert Dufresne), Keye Luke (Lee Chan).

Released – January, 1935

Directed By – Lewis Seiler

Produced By – Fox Film Corporation

Distributed By – Fox Film Corporation

Description – Detective Charlie Chan is going to Paris on vacation. At least that is what he would like people to think. Chan is actually in Paris to investigate claims made by some London bankers and customers regarding a bond-forgery scheme involving the Lamartine Bank.

This “vacation” is not without extreme risk, as repeated attempts have been made on Chan’s life. Already murdered are Chan’s Paris assistant Nardi, and the ex-boyfriend of Yvette, the daughter of Mr. Paul Lamartine the current head of the Lamartine Bank. Yvette his been falsely accused of the murder.

It appears as though the murderer is a man named Xavier, a blind beggar and a disturbed veteran of World War I. Chan’s investigation leads him to believe that Xavier may not even really exist and that it is someone, or more than one someone, that assumes that identity in order to commit the murders.

With the help of young Victor Descartes, the ward of banker Paul Lamartine, Chan discovers the location where the forged bonds are being printed, when suddenly the lights go out followed by gunfire.

NOTABLE: Charlie Chan in Paris marked the first appearance of one of Chan’s children.

For many years it was thought that this film had been lost until a print was discovered in Czechoslovakia in the 1980’s.


Charlie Chan In London

Thursday, October 28th, 2010

Charlie Chan In London (Region One USA DVD)

Tagline – When all others failed…she turned to Charlie Chan!

Starring – Warner Oland (Charlie Chan), Drue Leyton (Pamela Gray), Ray Milland (Neil Howard).

Released – September, 1934

Directed By – Eugene Forde

Produced By – Fox Film Corporation

Distributed By – Fox Film Corporation

Description – Pamela Gray’s brother Paul has just been convicted of murdering a weapons inventor and sentenced to be executed. She refuses to believe that Paul is guilty in spite of the doubts of his own lawyer Neil Howard, and her own fiancee.

Distraught over the disclosure of their feelings, she breaks off her engagement and asks for the help of visiting detective Charlie Chan. There is not much time as Paul is scheduled to be executed in 65 hours.

Believing Pamela’s feelings about her brothers innocence, Charlie promises to find the real killer. This case offers quite a list of possible suspects ranging from a housekeeper to a lawyer.

At the estate of family friend Geoffrey Richmond, where the murder took place, Chan gathers together all of the suspects and sets a trap to reveal the real killer before time runs out.

NOTABLE: Charlie Chan In London was the sixth film with actor Warner Oland playing the role of Charlie Chan and is considered one of the better entries in the series.

This film was the first not based on one of Earl Derr Biggers stories featuring detective Charlie Chan.

The Hollywood Detective Movie

Monday, December 7th, 2009

The Hollywood detective film genre has consistently proven itself popular with movie-going audiences. The attraction to this type of character and the stories involving detectives actually began on radio with a number of successful detective series radio programs. In the early part of the 20th century, as the motion picture industry began to grow, people began to turn off the radio and fill the movie theaters to view the detective movies that Hollywood was producing. 

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