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The Walter White Project

Randy Stakeman, Jackson Stakeman, Authors

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African American buffoons as comic relief in the movies

Hollywood's "white gaze" restricted African Americans to playing the role of menials and serving as comic relief. The Charlie Chan franchise was starting to renew and restructure itself in the 1940's. They added Mantan Moreland (who wasn't in either the first series of Chan movies nor in the books from which the character is drawn) to provide comic relief for the new series.  He was always dressed as a menial either as chauffeur or taxi driver with the appropriate hat as in Clip 1.  His character was supposed to portray the curious but easily frightened childlike figure that Chan could be fatherly to just as he was to his real son as he is in Clip 2. The son was usually grouped with Mr. Moreland. Even though Moreland was clearly much older he acted more childishly.
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