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Chu Chin Chow (1936)

George Robey , Fritz Kortner , Karl Grune , Walter Forde  |  NR |  DVD
3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Actors: George Robey, Fritz Kortner, Anna May Wong, John Garrick, Pearl Argyle
  • Directors: Karl Grune, Walter Forde
  • Writers: Ashley Dukes, Curt Siodmak, Edward Knoblock, Emeric Pressburger, L. du Garde Peach
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Box set, Black & White, Collector's Edition, Dolby, Full Screen, NTSC, Special Edition
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 3
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: Vci Video
  • DVD Release Date: June 21, 2005
  • Run Time: 102 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00096S2LO
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #291,053 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Chu Chin Chow" on IMDb

Special Features


Editorial Reviews

VCI is pleased to present this very rare 1934 British classic, based on the original Oscar Asche stage production which set records during its initial run of 2,238 performances at His Majesty's Theatre. Chu Chin Chow is entertainment on a generous scale, with an amazing story in the style of the Arabian Nights, an exceptional cast, a splendid musical score and a bright and richly mounted production. The movie is a musical retelling of Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves, complete with fantastic tortures and half clad slave girls. The production boasted lavish sets by Ernö Metzner and cinematography by Max Greenbaum, both top artists from the German Expressionism era. The original film was 102 minutes long. It was then cut by both British and American Distributors to 93 minutes and finally to 78. VCI's release is a three-disc box set containing the restoration of the original 102 minute version, along with the American version titled Ali Baba Nights, and as a bonus, the very rare 1935 film Abdul the Damned starring Fritz Kortner, who played Abu Hassan in Chu Chin Chow. Bonus Features: Original 'Uncut' British Production - Digitally Remastered| Commentary Track by Jay Fenton| Bonus: "Ali Baba Nights" - Cut-down American Version of "Chu Chin Chow"| Bonus: "Abdul the Damned" - Rare Classic Film starring Fritz Kortner (star of "Chu Chin Chow")| Collectible 'Liner Notes' Booklet by Jay Fenton| Anna May Wong Glamour Photo Gallery| Poster & Lobby Card Gallery| Pressbook Gallery| Bonus Music Tracks - "Vocal Gems from Chu Chin Chow"| Bonus Footage of Anna May Wong. Specs: 2-DVD5s + 2-DVD9; 102 minutes; B&W; 1.33:1 Aspect Ratio; MPAA - NR; Year - 1934; SRP - $29.99.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
25 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Chu Chin Chow? Wow! June 22, 2005
A British screen musical ... from the 1930s?

Yes, and it stars Anna May Wong!

VCI Entertainment has released an incredible 3 DVD collectors set containing restorations of the original (102 minute) version of the British film CHU CHIN CHOW (1934), along with the shorter 1953 American release of the same film (re-titled ALI BABA NIGHTS and targeting a "kiddie matinee" audience, it cuts out most of the spice--and the music). The set also features generous photo galleries, artist bios, an Arabian Nights-themed Popeye cartoon, loads of other extras and another British feature film of the 1930s, Karl Grune's ABDUL THE DAMNED, starring Fritz Kortner who plays the bandit chief, Abu Hassan, in CHU CHIN CHOW.

Ace film restorer, Jay Allan Fenton, supervised the project and it is a welcome addition to the expanding digital library of historically and artistically important films available to anyone with access to a DVD player. (Sound and image on these films can be less than pristine, but still almost miraculous considering their age and rarity.)

It is also a boon to aficionados of the sublime Anna May Wong.

Novelist Evelyn Waugh once wrote that it seemed absurd "that plays of oriental setting should have to be manufactured" for Wong, but CHU CHIN CHOW was not hatched as a starring vehicle for the Chinese American actress. Combining elements of musical comedy and pantomime, CHU CHIN CHOW was a venerable British show biz institution by the time it reached the screen in 1934. With a story by Oscar Asche and music by Frederic Norton, the stage version was first produced at His Majesty's Theatre on August 3, 1916 and ran for five years and a (then record) total of 2238 performances. There was a silent version of the musical shot in 1925 (go figure!
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Viva VCI !! July 4, 2005
This 3-DVD set is a must for Anna May Wong fans, British film fans and costume film fans. On every level it is the equal of any production made by England's top studio of the time, Alexander Korda's London Films. This film has languished in obscurity for too long; VCI has rescued it with a fine, sharp and complete print (most of those available before were missing 9-10 minutes). Besides a top-notch cast, it contains marvelous sets, lavish costumes and fine direction. Bonus features are numerous, including bios of the chief players and director, a gorgeous gallery of stills featuring Miss Wong and an added feature, Abdul the Damned (1935) starring Fritz Kortner, as well as the abridged version of Chu Chin Chow released by the U.S. company Lippert in 1953 as Ali Baba Nights, in which the musical numbers were excised. The former is another obscure film which also features imaginative sets and costumes.

VCI had done an outstanding presentation of all this material; even the menu headings move! The eye-catching cover illustration is from a British film magazine cover and an informative booklet gives the viewer much background material. Kudos to VCI for a fine job!
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
VCI Entertainment is proud to present a very rare British classic "Chu Chin Chow" (1934) (digitally remastered), musical retelling of the "Ali Baba and the 40 Thieves" Arabian Nights tale with Director Walter Forde, writing credits by Oscar Asche (play) and Sidney Gilliat...the direction is astonishing in every department, sets are astounding and songs within each scene are pure melodic passages...the cast include George Robey (Ali Baba), Fritz Kortner ( Abu Hasan ), Anna May Wong (Zahrat), John Garrick (Nur-al-din Baba), Pearl Argyle (Maryana, servant girl), Lawrence Hanray (Kasim Baba)...special thanks goes to the restoration by Jan Wahl, filmmaker Elaine Mae Woo, film scholar Philip Liebried and memorabilia collector Ed Manwell for their gracious contributions to this project and Jay Allan Fenton (liner notes and commentary)...VCI is presentlng for the first time since its original release the complete 102 minute British version in digital format for the 70th anniversary of film's premier and 100th anniversary of Anna May Wong's birth...this is a real treat with a clear and crisp audio and video very much collectible for all the "film-classic-buffs" out there.

1. Title
2. "Here Be Oysters"
3. Inspection
4. Young Lovers
5. Mistress Chambers
6. Send a Message
7. "Where are the Robbers of the Wood"
8. "I Shiver I Shake with Fear"
9. Raid
10.Ali Baba Owes
11.Here is Chu Chin Chow?
12.Magic Fountain
13.Guest Room
14 "Corraline"
15.Two Little Words
18.Loot for Your Lives
19.Rewards of Honest Labor
20.The Wheel Awaits You
21."Scimitar Song"
22.Desert Flower
23.Rough with the Smooth
24."The Cobbler's Song"
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11 of 15 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars For die-hard fans or the very curious July 28, 2005
For those of you out there who adore Anna May Wong (and there seem to be quite a few), or have an interest in early 20th century British musicals (!?), this should be a fun way to spend a couple of hours. I'm neither, however, so I found it pretty tough going. Neither the material nor the acting is particularly distinguished, and the "direction" is non-existent. (This is one of those films that looks almost entirely made up of first takes.) It may be a bit harsh to judge "Chu Chin Chow" by today's standards, but this WAS the era of Astaire & Rodgers, the Broadway Melody films and countless other wonderful movie musicals. Perhaps the British film industry was less interested in financing this type of thing. There seems to be some discrepancy amongst reviewers as to the quality of the DVD transfer. I'm on the side of pretty awful. I'm not sure why any distributor would go to the trouble of issuing a deluxe 3-disc (!) set of an obscure film curiosity without doing a better job of cleaning it up. And the soundtrack is hopelessly compromised, particularly during songs, the lyrics of which fly by unintelligably. (Subtitles would have helped a lot, but sadly they don't exist.) All in all "Chu Chin Cow is a must see...but only if you must.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Not the best movie, but Anna May Wong is in it.
It boasts a 3 disc special edition, but it's exactly special features. It's 3 movies. It has "Chu Chin Chow" and the American cut down version (with less singing) called "Ali Baba... Read more
Published on May 29, 2012 by Jonathan
2.0 out of 5 stars A Musical Museum-Piece
Oscar Ashe and Frederic Norton's musical retelling of "Ali Baba and the 40 Thieves," "Chu Chin Chow," made into a 1934 British film by Walter Forde, doesn't withstand the test of... Read more
Published on February 22, 2007 by Robert Payne
3.0 out of 5 stars Good But pretty Tame
I saw nothing in this Film that should of merited any sort Banning. In fact, I think for Kids, It might be a bit on the "slow side" of things for thier enjoyment, but as a adult, I... Read more
Published on August 29, 2006 by D. Fancher
5.0 out of 5 stars Great transfer; Great extras
I contributed in a small way to this set so I may be biased but I found the transfer excellent and I particularly enjoyed the extras. I thought Mr. Read more
Published on July 29, 2005 by Edmund R. Manwell
4.0 out of 5 stars VCI Entertainment's version of "Chu Chin Chow" is enthralling
I wonder if the previous reviewer saw the same film I did. This VCI Entertainment release of Chu Chin Chow is anything but "grainy" and "flickering. Read more
Published on July 23, 2005 by Denise Noe
1.0 out of 5 stars Interesting period piece, godawful DVD release
Although this DVD says it's "digitally remastered," that only means that it was transferred from film to the digital medium of DVD. Read more
Published on July 15, 2005 by ssmithee
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