Roland Winters in The Chinese Ring (1947)

     The Chinese Ring (1947) is Roland Winters’ first outing as Inspector Charlie Chan for Monogram Pictures.  Winters so badly wanted the role that he died his blonde hair black for the screen test.  Winters did an adequate  job as Charlie Chan although he is clearly third behind Warner Oland and Sidney Toler for the best screen Charlie Chan to date.

     At the beginning of the film, a Chinese princess has sought assistance from Charlie Chan at his home.  Before she is able to speak to Inspector Chan, she is murdered by the dart from a blow gun.  Inspector Chan cannot allow such a happening at his own home, so he assists Sgt. Bill Davidson in the investigation.  Inspector Chan and Davidson are pursued by reporter Peggy Cartwright, who is also Sgt. Davidson’s girlfriend.

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Roland Winters as Inspector Charlie Chan from the Public Domain

     Mantan Moreland reprises his role as chauffeur Birmingham Brown.  Victor Sen Yung also returns in this series but for some reason he is “No. 3 Son Tommy” in this film.  Benson Fong played Tommy in the earlier Charlie Chan films for Monogram Pictures, which starred Sidney Toler as Charlie Chan.  Why Victor Sen Yung did not play his normal role of “No. 2 Son Jimmy” is not really clear.

     If you feel like you have seen this film before, you have if you watched Mr. Wong in Chinatown (1940).  W. Scott Darling was the screenwriter on both films.  The Chinese Ring is an almost scene by scene reproduction of the earlier Mr. Wong film.

     Roland Winters was born Roland Winternitz on November 22, 1904 in Boston, Massachusetts.  Winters was both an actor and writer.  He was 43 years old, when he took on the role of Charlie Chan.   Prior to landing the role as Charlie Chan, he had a handful of uncredited film roles.  After starring as Charlie Chan in the Monogram Pictures “B” series, he was steadily employed in films and television.

     Winters made his last screen appearance in 1982.  His Internet Movie Database (IMDB) filmography lists over a 100 credits although some of these were for multiple television appearances, so he acted in many more.  Roland Winters died at 84 years of age on October 22, 1989.

     The Chinese Ring runs about 68 minutes.  It is a must for Charlie Chan fans.  You can watch it free on YouTube by clicking here.

     What did you think about Roland Winters’ portrayal of Charlie Chan? You can leave a comment or ask a question about this or any post on my Facebook pageTwitter profile and Google+ page.

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