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Nordic Film Cultures and Cinemas of Elsewhere$
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Anna Westerstahl Stenport and Arne Lunde

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9781474438056

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: May 2021

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9781474438056.001.0001

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Charlie Chan’s Last Mystery, or the Transcultural Disappearance of Warner Oland

Charlie Chan’s Last Mystery, or the Transcultural Disappearance of Warner Oland

(p.42) 3. Charlie Chan’s Last Mystery, or the Transcultural Disappearance of Warner Oland
Nordic Film Cultures and Cinemas of Elsewhere

Kim Khavar Fahlstedt

Edinburgh University Press

This chapter investigates the transnational film persona of Warner Oland. Alongside Anna Q. Nilsson and Greta Garbo, Oland was one of Sweden’s first, and internationally most beloved, Hollywood film stars. During the 1920s and 30s, Oland gained global popularity for roles as Orientalist characters such as Dr. Fu Manchu and Charlie Chan. This case study probes into the last two years of Oland’s life, in which his fame rose to a career high while he was also struggling in his personal life from years of alcohol abuse. It investigates how a range of fleeting conceptualizations of national and ethnic identifiers, such as “Swedishness” and Orientalism, were utilized as heuristic tools to make sense of Oland's public disintegration. In the present study, Oland’s racialized and ethnic personae were reproduced and renegotiated within three geographical locations (Hollywood, Europe, and China) of that period’s transnational film culture.

Keywords:   Charlie Chan, Warner Oland, Swedish, Transcultural, Transnational, Mystery, Orientalism, Dr. Fu Manchu, China

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