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rover27

The 'colorization' of TCM

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If it takes Dr. Peter X. Feng coming on TCM every time a Chan film is shown, so he can introduce them, then that?s fine with me. Bring on Dr. Feng and the Chan films. :)

 

As a matter of fact, the more I think about it, the more I think it would be an excellent idea for Dr. Peter X. Feng to introduce all the Charlie Chan movies. I wish I had thought of that before. :)

 

Edited by: FredCDobbs on Sep 8, 2010 9:21 PM

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> {quote:title=johnm_001 wrote:}{quote}

> All this waxing poetic over the old AMC days, fails to mention how they never showed films in their proper aspect ratios (except sometimes at 2:00 am) and pretty much made me never want to see a Fred Astaire/Ginger Rogers film, ever again, due to their endless scheduling of them. Their library may have been different, and I watched the channel, plenty; but it never came close to the vast amount of titles and quality presentations currently being offered by TCM.

 

And does anyone remember the series of DVDs AMC issued? All public domain material. I love this quote from someone on Amazon (no, not me) reviewing the AMC Tarzan set: "Of course these films will be lower quality--they are being released NOT by the studios that own the original prints and/or negatives, but by AMC cable network, which has had to make do with whatever they have been able to lay their hands on..." LOL!

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>>Thanks for providing the year, I apologize for being off by three years. I'll be more careful the next time I use the word "almost".

 

No apology necessary and I did say that I wasn't clarifying that just for the sake of being picky. I certainly hope that I didn't come off as being that petty. As I was linking a story dated July 2003, I thought it was worth being precise.

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A few months after Fox canceled the festival, they did have a go at screenings on one night followed by a panel discussion moderated by George Takei and there were representatives of Asian groups and Ken Hanke who authored the book "Charlie Chan at the Movies."

 

I was hoping that Hanke or Takei would make note that when the Fox Movie Channel airs ZORRO THE GAY BLADE that they don't have any panel discussions over whether it should be aired.

 

Fox has not aired a Chan or Moto title since that date.

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I just started re-watching The Chinese Cat, one of the Monogram Chans from the Chanthology boxset, and there isn't just the Asian culture to think about, there's also Mantan Moreland's characterization in the Monogram Chan films. Two races to offend at one time.

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>>I like your Rupert Murdoch story. That?s the most sensible explanation I?ve heard so far.

 

Thank you. I wouldn't be surprised if it did have a basis in truth. When I worked in an advisory capacity concerning the local TV schedules of clients, I knew of a few times when a client's wife could determine what would or would not air on the station.

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I'd bet a $100 that Wendy Murdoch hasn't seen the Chan film in their entirety and based her feeling offended on the opinions of others as well as Chan not being played by an Asian. I don't understand the ignorant thinking behind some of the racial stereotypes of old Hollywood. Fox plays THE DETECTIVE, ZORRO THE GAY BLADE (like someone else mentioned) and 1969's STAIRCASE with Richard Burton and Rex Harrison - this one eats up every British and homosexual stereotype you could think of! It's ridiculous the type of censorship people want when there are so many other channels on TV to watch. How did Fox manage to bend for the protesters yet they have animated comedy shows on Sunday nights that have offensive (albeit funny) jokes that point at all racial groups?

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To straighten out all the confusion, Warner Bros. is a big media monster owning RKO, MGM/UA, Monogram, Allied Artists etc. But they dont use WB on everything they put out as it would reveal too much. So when I say that China's Little Devils is blacklisted, WB is refusing tv play on the movie. TV play being TCM since there is only one old movie channel. Oh well the viewers of TCM are too stupid to notice anything like a blacklist. & even if they do notice there is nothing they can do about it. AMC did not show proper aspect ratio because back then the studios were not ready to remaster them for tv. In addition, TCM now shows 90% fake letterbox proving the studios today are unwilling to provide proper remasters ? no **** - they?re just faking it. Given the choice I would rather see full screen than cropped.

I know most of you love your channel & although I subscribe to it, they have decided to water down the content considerably. I guess I?ll just go along with it for the present as we are stuck with only one old movie channel ? bad as it is, Gidget twice a month there is no choice. I will continue buying stuff from England Region 2 & Germany as with TCM?s new conservative programming I am unlikely to see on TCM.

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Wendi Murdoch is producing a new movie titled ?Snow Flower and the Secret Fan? (2011).

 

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1541995/fullcredits#cast

 

http://www.imdb.com/name/nm3684595/news#ni2431168

 

Original book:

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/product-description/0812980352/ref=dp_proddesc_0?ie=UTF8&n=283155&s=books

 

I think we old-timer Americans can hold a wake for our dearly departed friend, Charlie Chan.

 

"Zhang Ziyi to build a film empire with Mrs. Murdoch"

 

http://www.china.org.cn/entertainment/2008-03/12/content_12413549.htm

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>>Oh well the viewers of TCM are too stupid to notice anything like a blacklist. & even if they do notice there is nothing they can do about it.

 

You owe all of us an apology for that. I won't call for you being banned, but I won't say it wouldn't be deserved if it happens. Blanket statements such as that are not going to win you any allies, not that you seem to have engendered any support anyway.

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> {quote:title=Big_Bopper wrote:}{quote}

> AMC did not show proper aspect ratio because back then the studios were not ready to remaster them for tv. In addition, TCM now shows 90% fake letterbox proving the studios today are unwilling to provide proper remasters

 

Well, I won't go as far as calling you stupid, but I will call you wrong! Your statement just isn't true, for at least 95% of the scope films they showed. Almost all of them were available on letterboxed laserdiscs. Besides, AMC frequently did show them in a widescreen format. Only you had to be awake in the middle of the night, to see it. Or have your video tape set, in case they did.

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I'm glad you agree there is no need to call anyone names. We can all see what is clearly there (well really not there!).

 

I do find paranoia to this degree very funny.

 

Edited by: jamesjazzguitar on Sep 9, 2010 8:45 PM

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**I feel like I have lost an old friend and am no longer the TCM target audience*.* I have watched TCM for years and have loved the selection of movies...ALWAYS a great mix of genres. I am female over 50. However, it has been a few months now since I have truly enjoyed watching TCM. I am really tired of the war, dark and gangster/police type dramas. Where is the mix of family or more lighthearted movies I so loved??????? I, too, am sad to see newer movies popping up here and feel there has been an overall change in the programming. Very sad, indeed, when I want to curl up with a good old movie to make me feel better, there aren't any. Just depressing, heavy duty films.

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>>I think we old-timer Americans can hold a wake for our dearly departed friend, Charlie Chan.

 

I'm hoping that the new book by Yunte Huang may help to curb some of the criticism. I've only read of it on various websites, so if it was mentioned already on this board, please excuse honorable self for repetition of same :)

 

Here is the NY Times review:

 

No. 1 Sleuth

By RICHARD SCHICKEL

 

CHARLIE CHAN

 

The Untold Story of the Honorable Detective and His Rendezvous With American History

 

By Yunte Huang

 

Illustrated. 354 pp. W. W. Norton & Company. $26.95

 

Lord Peter Wimsey, Hercule Poirot, Philo Vance, many another ? they are like a drooping bouquet of exotically named flowers, withering away in one of subliterature?s deserted mansions. Once, during the 20th century?s interwar years, the first great age of detective fiction, they were the genre?s stars, often equipped with comical verbal tics or curious sideline interests, but always abiding by the ironbound conventions of classic crime fiction. Their work demanded more ratiocination than roughhouse and, in the end, a gathering of all the murder mystery?s many suspects in the country house library, where the gentlemanly investigator reveals the killer?s always surprising identity.

 

Perhaps the most exotic of these brainiacs was Charlie Chan. He was, to begin with, Chinese, the only member of a minority group in a usually WASPy crowd ? modest, even obsequious, in manner, with a gift for amusing aphorisms (?Murder like potato chip ? cannot stop at just one?) and, as it happens, for survival. He, alone, persists in people?s memories as an easily identified pop culture icon, a status attested to by Yunte Huang?s ?Charlie Chan,? a capacious, somewhat baggy, but always entertaining book about Chan and all the factors that account for his longevity. Before Huang is done, we have been treated to a vast gaggle of material about Chan?s creator, Earl Derr Biggers; Honolulu (where Chan was nominally a police detective); Chinese culture and immigration to the West; Hollywood moviemaking, not excluding Fu Manchu and Anna May Wong ? everything that might possibly shed light on the Honorable Detective?s life and times and popularity. Believe me, no one is ever going to write a book like this about Hercule Poirot.

 

Biggers, the bright and agreeable product of a small Ohio town and Harvard, had his first success with a novel, ?Seven Keys to Baldpate,? which George M. Cohan turned into a stage success before Biggers was 30. The play remained a favorite with amateur drama companies for many decades thereafter. Biggers wrote the first of his six Chan novels a dozen years later. The first Chan movie, a silent, appeared in 1926 and was followed by 46 more, mainly at Fox and low-rent Monogram, which released the last of them in 1949. Thus, the simple response to the question of Chan?s longevity is all those movies, which played on television for decades.

 

That, however, says little about their intrinsic quality. Biggers was a good writer, possessed of a simple, straightforward prose style and a gift for patient, plausible plotting. I?ve sampled some of his novels recently and can testify that they can be read today without condescension. Something similar can be said of the movies. Though inexpensively and quickly made, they were well written, sensibly directed and decently acted. From time to time young performers like Rita Hayworth and Ray Milland turned up in them, particularly in support of the first and best Chan, Warner Oland, the Swedish actor who, alas, drank himself to death (he was replaced by Sidney Toler). There are wet, earnest commentators who think Chan should have been played by an Asian actor, conveniently forgetting that Asians were then in short supply in Hollywood, forgetting as well that the issue was not Chan?s race but the respect in which he was always held. That?s another reason the Chan films continue to play so agreeably today. You don?t have to make allowances for any sort of casual racism in them; there is none.

 

Biggers is one author who would have had no complaints about the way Hollywood treated his liberal-minded work. Unfortunately, he did not live long enough to fully enjoy Chan?s growing popularity. Plagued by illness much of his life, he died at 48, around the time the fourth of the Oland pictures was released. By now, Chan?s connection to the Honolulu P.D. was becoming more and more nominal; he was turning into an international private eye, ranging from Berlin to Shanghai, solving crimes and, incidentally, calming down his comically excitable, thoroughly Americanized sons, who served as his assistants.

 

Yet Chan left one unsolved mystery behind him. That has to do with his origins, and it is one Huang does not, in my opinion, satisfactorily solve. There was, in Honolulu, a real-life Chinese detective on the police force, a man named Chang Apana, who people early on insisted was the model for Chan. It was an idea that Biggers affably endorsed.

 

In fact, however, Apana was Chan?s opposite. Far from being portly and slow moving, he was a wiry little guy, no more than five feet tall. He was also functionally illiterate and so far as we can tell from Huang, incapable of stringing together a complex chain of thought. He was a muscular street cop whose specialty was raiding opium dens and gambling dens, wielding his trademark bullwhip to newsworthy effect. It may be ? we can?t know ? that he spoke ?pidgin? English, which is how Huang insists on characterizing Chan?s diction. However, you don?t come up with all those well-turned aphorisms without having a smart and ambitious sense of language?s possibilities. On an admittedly higher level, this is the kind of thing Nabokov delightfully did with ?Pnin,? about another ?migr?struggling to master a second language.

 

But if people preferred a realistic rather than literary lineage for Chan, so be it. Biggers was happy to go along with the gag. In his report about himself for a Harvard publication, he claimed to have come across Apana in an obscure corner of a Honolulu newspaper. But Huang has gone back to the city?s two major papers of the time, and they do not support that account, a fact he honorably reports without abandoning his faith in Apana?s foundational function. In truth, Apana is of more practical use to Huang than to Biggers ? an instrument that permits him to widen his view of the Asian-American experience over the last 150 years.

 

Simply put, Chan, like all of his contemporary fictional detectives, crawled out from beneath Sir Arthur Conan Doyle?s overcoat. Sherlock Holmes was the model everyone imitated ? not very well ? during the years when mysteries were the rage. This used to drive Edmund Wilson crazy. He deemed the consumption of mysteries a form of addiction, on a level with smoking and doing crossword puzzles, while woefully wondering what the likes of T. S. Eliot and William Butler Yeats saw in them. He spared some kind words for Holmes, a pleasure of his childhood and, presciently, for Raymond Chandler, whose manner obviously shifted the ground in this field.

 

Certainly, the ease with which the more muscular romanticism of Philip Marlowe and his ilk wiped out the old gentility suggests that the ?classic? mystery had a much looser hold on the popular imagination than Wilson imagined. Cold war exigencies demanded more up-and-doing detectives, tough guys who could take it and dish it out. To his credit, Huang, Chinese born but now a professor of English at the University of California, Santa Barbara, is only mildly interested in that kind of cultural Big Think. His attention is firmly fixed on the Chinese immigrant experience and, of course, on a detective whose urbane presentation ran counter to the racism of his era. Charlie Chan remains, in himself, a sly and delightful figure, worthy of nostalgia ? and of Huang?s very original, good-humored and passionately researched book.

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> {quote:title=bevcar wrote:}{quote}

> **I feel like I have lost an old friend and am no longer the TCM target audience*.* I have watched TCM for years and have loved the selection of movies...ALWAYS a great mix of genres. I am female over 50. However, it has been a few months now since I have truly enjoyed watching TCM. I am really tired of the war, dark and gangster/police type dramas. Where is the mix of family or more lighthearted movies I so loved??????? I, too, am sad to see newer movies popping up here and feel there has been an overall change in the programming. Very sad, indeed, when I want to curl up with a good old movie to make me feel better, there aren't any. Just depressing, heavy duty films.

 

And you bothered to join this message board to post that? There is a thread for family films. Perhaps you might want to add something there?

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I?ve conducted some research on Wendi Deng Murdoch. If she is behind the sudden suppression of Charlie Chan films on TV, it?s probably because of her direct connection and influence at Fox, and most likely she did it because she is a Chinese national and she?s very strongly nationalistic. She?s a strong advocate of promoting an international progressive image of a ?Modern China?, while getting rid of all the old stereotypical images of the 1930s and ?40s.

 

She is from The People?s Republic of China (PRC), and she has many connections with government officials there. She?s sending her two new Murdoch kids to a special language school to teach them to speak Chinese and to teach them the culture of China. When the old man finally kicks off, she will be in a fairly high position within his media empire, which includes several Fox companies.

 

In the meantime, she has used Murdoch to set herself up as head of a new film production company to make China-oriented movies.

http://english.cri.cn/3086/2008/03/13/1261@333342.htm

 

Fox Searchlight Pictures will be distributing her first film next year, ?Snow Flower and the Secret Fan?, which she is producing:

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1541995/fullcredits#cast

 

According to IMDB, this film is being made by IDG China Media:

http://www.imdb.com/company/co0218651/

 

Also see:

 

?Thank goodness for Wendi, otherwise here in the West?we?d more often than not, miss out on the beauty of good Asian storytelling for the screen, that exists out of stereotyping of Asian characters.?

http://horiwood.com/2010/05/13/wendi-murdoch-asian-power-film-producer-and-snow-fower-and-the-secret-fan/

 

Here?s an interesting article about her that I found on a Chinese-language blog. Scroll down to item #82:

 

?Wendi seemed to have arrived in California in 1990 and started studying economics at California State University (CSU) at Northridge in 1991. By all accounts she cut quite a figure on campus - with her physique, her fashionable clothes, her relative affluence and her indomitable ambition to get ahead.

 

Strange, Wealthy And Well-Connected

 

According to her economics professor at CSU, Ken Chapman, "She was a strange person. You never really know what to believe about her. Here she was, straight off the plane from the People?s Republic of China with more state-of-the-art computer equipment than anyone had ever seen before. She went on exotic vacations, travelling extensively during the university holidays, and she clearly had a lot of money."

 

There is absolutely no hint from the recollections of people she knew in those years that she was a dissident of any sort or even entertained ideas critical of the Communist Party line - and this at a time immediately following the Tiananmen Square horrors, which must have been a major issue on campus during her time there. In fact, all the evidence is the other way. In California she grew close to Li Ning, one of China?s most illustrious athletes having won three Olympic gold medals at the LA games in 1984. He had set up fitness centres in the Los Angeles area and Wendi worked for him.

 

She would also regularly act as interpreter for official Chinese trade delegations when they visited California and she boasted, no doubt with good grounds, of high level contacts with Communist Chinese party officials.?

http://www.haiguinet.com/blog/index.php?p=3616

 

And this:

 

?The next 41 years could be equally dramatic. If Wendi Deng holds true to her trajectory, she could conceivably become the most powerful media mogul in the world, and the most powerful female in Asia.?

http://www.theasiamag.com/people/the-rise-of-wendi-deng-murdoch

 

According to that last article, her original first name was ?Wenge?, which translates in modern China as ?Cultural Revolution?.

 

Of course I don?t mind more artistic Chinese films coming to American theaters, since American?s domestic films have reached an all-time low, but I am concerned about the sudden loss of old classic American films such as the Charlie Chan series, especially if their current suppression in this country is the result of activity of someone who is, in effect, acting as an agent of a foreign country.

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> {quote:title=FredCDobbs wrote:}{quote}

> The next 41 years could be equally dramatic. *If Wendi Deng holds true to her trajectory, she could conceivably become the most powerful media mogul in the world, and the most powerful female in Asia*.

> http://www.theasiamag.com/people/the-rise-of-wendi-deng-murdoch

>

> According to that last article, her original first name was Wenge, which translates in modern China as Cultural Revolution.

>

> Of course I dont mind more artistic Chinese films coming to American theaters, since Americans domestic films have reached an all-time low, but I am concerned about the sudden loss of old classic American films such as the Charlie Chan series, especially if their current suppression in this country is the result of activity of *someone who is, in effect, acting as an agent of a foreign country.*

 

Fred,

 

If things about her are as possibly sinister as parts of the research allude to, I think that not seeing Charlie Chan films would be the least of our problems.

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Wow, and here I thought that maybe Murdoch found her by answering one of those "Asian girls want to meet you" ads in the NY Post.

 

Just kidding, but she is in an enviable position and I hope she is able to make some advancement in her cause.

 

What bothers me personally is that Charlie Chan is so misinterpreted. I can see the concern that he was not played by an Asian, but let's consider film history here. Prior to Chan, Oland was perhaps best known for playing Fu Manchu in a series of films for Paramount. Right here we have a significant change for the better, the actor was able to crossover from villain to hero and be accepted, indeed embraced in a period where most Asians were depicted as part of "the yellow peril."

 

No matter how the other characters perceive him in each film, there is no doubt that Chan is the smartest guy in the room. In that way he is much like the later "Columbo" character, he disarms the suspects with his seeming servitude. He's usually given enormous respect by the other police officials (who were often depicted as buffoons) as well as those in high places.

 

Keye Luke made a great defense of Chan's vocabulary, saying it wasn't "pidgin English" but what he called "stage English" and that it represented a man who thought in Chinese but spoke in English. He was also disappointed that the prevailing ill-wind toward the films was also suppressing the work of many actual Asian actors featured in the films. He thought that those actors who later enjoyed greater opportunities were in debt to those who came before.

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I agree. Chan was very intelligent and looked upon much like the Sherlock Holmes character. Everyone in America already knew about bad local police, all over the country, and Chan was like a breath of fresh air, very objective, brilliant, and never arrogant like local US cops were in the old movies.

 

Chan?s image probably helped Americans feel ok about our strong support of China in the late ?30s and early ?40s, when China was under attack by the Japanese, and we allowed a lot of Chinese immigrants into the country during the Communist purges of the late 1940s and early ?50s. Those early Chinese immigrants proudly became Americans.

 

But many of the ones coming over now still consider themselves to be Chinese and not Americans. I?m sure those kind in the US film industry will continue to try to get rid of all our old films that have old-fashioned Chinese characters in them. It?s like the way special-interest groups have already caused us to lose ?Song of the South?, the ?Our Gang? and ?Little Rascals? shorts, the ?Amos and Andy? TV series (with the brilliant comedian, Tim Moore), and now the Charlie Chan films.

 

And we dare not speak up for old-fashioned ?Americanism? in our classic movies, because we?ll be called ?racists? if we do.

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I was careful to refer to her as ?an agent of a foreign country?, rather than ?an agent of a foreign government.?

 

I think she?s working to promote her country out of nationalistic feelings. I see the same thing among a lot of Mexican immigrants and Arab immigrants. No longer do all the immigrants come over and proudly call themselves ?Americans?. Now they come over to make some money and do what they can to promote their own home country.

 

Since she was born in 1968, at the peak of the Cultural Revolution in China, I figure that name was her father?s idea, since he was a CCP member, and he didn?t want to have any trouble with the youthful revolutionaries during the purges back in ?68.

 

There are lots of people in China today who believe that within the next 50 years, China will become the most dominant and leading country of the world, leaving the US, Japan, and Europe far behind.

 

A modern parade in China:

 

A modern parade in the US:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FrnjPJU7mfQ&feature=related

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It may be small consolation but at least we can still buy the Chan films. Disney won't sell SONG OF THE SOUTH in this country, but that does not stop them from selling it in other regions.That's having it both ways and I disagree with that stance.

 

Personally I don't see AMOS AND ANDY as being any more offensive than SANFORD AND SON but it has been obscured for so long, there are hardly many of us around who can make that distinction. I think that many are probably confusing the radio show with the TV program and are not aware that the TV show has a cast of black actors and they weren't all maids, butlers or con artists.

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I never liked the radio show. My dad told me at an early age (in the late 1940s) that those guys were white, and I never cared for them or their imitation accents.

 

But the TV show was different. I saw it back in the age of Milton Berle, Jackie Gleason?s ?The Honeymooners?, ?I Love Lucy?, and even the early Bud Abbott and Lou Costello TV show. All those shows were about people who made mistakes, lost bets, had problems, and had all sorts of disagreements, etc.

 

The real star of the TV show was Tim Moore. He appeared several times on Jack Parr?s Tonight Show in the mid-1950s. He told jokes and stories and he used that famous voice, which he had developed during his days in vaudeville and as a comedy actor on the New York stage. He was so much funnier than Redd Foxx. He would tell long stories about his in-laws and about his mother-in-law, and he?d have Parr and the audience laughing like crazy. Unfortunately, he died in 1958, and I don?t know if any of the Parr shows were ever recorded.

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I don't know where you come up with this stuff, but it's certainly entertaining.

So your theory is that Wendi Deng is using her position to suppress the

dissemination of the Charlie Chan film series, and doing it as an agent of a

foreign country (China), but not its government? Huh? And if she has this

nefarious scheme, why is Fox releasing Charlie Chan movies on DVD? Is

there even a vapor of evidence for this theory or is it just random speculation?

It's not a very good idea to put forward such far-fetched theories without proof.

It certainly can't help one's credibility.

 

Sometimes old fashioned "Americanism" was just old-fashioned racism, such as

the laws that kept most Chinese emigrants out of the country from the early 1880s

to the early 1940s.

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