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100+ Charlie Chan Sayings and Proverbs. A surprisingly good selection of truisms and insights
Archdiocese of Washington ^ | March 24, 2012 | Msgr. Charles Pope

Posted on 03/24/2012 11:49:57 AM PDT by NYer

My Father was a great fan of Charlie Chan movies, a series of detective movies from the 1930s featuring a fictional Chinese-American detective. My father had every one of them on video tape. Not only did he watch them often, he also collected Charlie Chan sayings. For in every movie there would be dozens of wise, witty, and insightful sayings. He jotted them down as he watched and once presented me with a collection of the sayings.

On Friday’s I like to blog on lighter fare and this Friday evening is no exception. I simply want to present the list my father gave me with later additions by me. This list is long, but many of the sayings are well worth the read. Not all of them are of equal value, but there are some real keepers in the list. Many indeed are in deep conformity with the biblical tradition.

If you want to print a convenient list, I have put this in PDF version of them here: Charlie Chan Sayings

But for light reading and edification enjoy this list of Charlie Chan sayings:

  1. Admitting failure like drinking bitter tea. (Charlie Chan in Egypt)
  2. After dinner is over, who cares about spoon? (Docks of New Orleans)
  3. Always happens – when conscience tries to speak, telephone out of order. (The Black Camel)
  4. Ancient ancestor once say, “Even wise man cannot fathom depth of woman’s smile.” (The Shanghai Cobra)
  5. Ancient ancestor once say, “Words cannot cook rice.” (Charlie Chan in Reno)
  6. Ancient proverb say. “Never bait trap with wolf to catch wolf.” (Shadows Over Chinatown)
  7. Ancient proverb say, “One small wind can raise much dust.” (Dark Alibi)
  8. Anxious man hurries too fast and stubs big toe. (Charlie Chan’s Courage)
  9. Bad alibi like dead fish – cannot stand test of time. (Charlie Chan in Panama)
  10. Best to slip with foot, than with tongue. (Charlie Chan at the Circus)
  11. Biggest mysteries are not always crimes. (1935 Pennsylvania Referendum Message)
  12. Blind man feels ahead with cane before proceeding. (Charlie Chan’s Courage)
  13. Boy Scout knife, like ladies’ hairpin, have many uses. (Charlie Chan’s Secret)
  14. Can fallen fruit return to branch? (Docks of New Orleans)
  15. Cat who tries to catch two mice at one time, goes without supper. (Charlie Chan’s Greatest Case)
  16. Charming company turn lowly sandwich into rich banquet. (Charlie Chan in Reno)
  17. Chinese funny people; when say “go,” mean “go.” (Docks of New Orleans)
  18. Confucius has said, “A wise man question himself, a fool, others.” (Charlie Chan in City in Darkness)
  19. Confucius say, “Sleep only escape from yesterday.” (Shadows Over Chinatown)
  20. Cornered rat usually full of fight. (Shadows Over Chinatown)
  21. Curiosity responsible for cat needing nine lives. (Charlie Chan at the Circus)
  22. Deception is bad game for amateurs. (Shadows Over Chinatown)
  23. Deer should not toy with tiger. (The Golden Eye)
  24. Detective without curiosity is like glass eye at keyhole – no use. (Charlie Chan in the Secret Service)
  25. Dreams, like good liars, distort facts. (Charlie Chan in Shanghai)
  26. Drop of plain water on thirsty tongue more precious than gold in purse. (Charlie Chan in Egypt)
  27. Easy to criticize, more difficult to be correct. (Charlie Chan at the Race Track)
  28. Elaborate excuse seldom truth. (Castle in the Desert)
  29. Even draperies may have ears. (Charlie Chan at Treasure Island)
  30. Every fence have two sides. (Charlie Chan’s Greatest Case)
  31. Every front has back. (Charlie Chan in London)
  32. Every man must wear out at least one pair of fool shoes. (Charlie Chan Carries On)
  33. Every maybe has a wife called Maybe-Not. (Charlie Chan Carries On)
  34. Favorite pastime of man is fooling himself. (Charlie Chan at Treasure Island)
  35. Fear is cruel padlock. (Charlie Chan at the Wax Museum)
  36. Foolish rooster who stick head in lawn mower end in stew. (Charlie Chan at the Race Track)
  37. Foolish to seek fortune when real treasure hiding under nose. (Charlie Chan at the Race Track)
  38. Front seldom tell truth. To know occupants of house, always look in back yard. (Charlie Chan in London)
  39. Good detective always look for something unusual. (The Red Dragon)
  40. Good tools shorten labor. (Charlie Chan at the Circus)
  41. Grain of sand in eye may hide mountain. (Charlie Chan in Paris)
  42. “Great happiness follows great pain.” (Charlie Chan at Treasure Island)
  43. Guilty conscience always first to speak up. (The Feathered Serpent)
  44. Guilty conscience like dog in circus – many tricks. (Castle in the Desert)
  45. Guilty conscience only enemy to peaceful rest. (Charlie Chan at the Circus)
  46. Guilty mind sometimes pinch worse than ancient boot of torture. (Dangerous Money)
  47. Hastily accuse – leisurely repent. (Charlie Chan’s Greatest Case)
  48. Hasty conclusion easy to make, like hole in water. (Charlie Chan in Egypt)
  49. Hasty deduction, like old egg, look good from outside. (Charlie Chan’s Secret)
  50. Have two ears, but can only hear one thing at time. (The Shanghai Chest)
  51. He who squanders today talking about yesterday’s triumphs, have nothing to boast of tomorrow. (Docks of New Orleans)
  52. He who takes whatever gods send with smile, has learned life’s hardest lesson. (Docks of New Orleans)
  53. Honorable father once say, “Politeness golden key that open many doors.” (Charlie Chan at the Opera)
  54. Hours are happiest when hands are busiest. (Charlie Chan’s Murder Cruise)
  55. Humbly suggest not to judge wine by barrel it is in. (Charlie Chan’s Greatest Case)
  56. Humility only defense against rightful blame. (Charlie Chan at the Opera)
  57. Ideas planted too soon, often like seeds on winter ground – quickly die. (The Sky Dragon)
  58. If request music, must be willing to pay for fiddler. (Charlie Chan at Treasure Island)
  59. If strength were all, tiger would not fear the scorpion. (Charlie Chan’s Secret)
  60. Illustrious ancestor once say, “Destination never reached by turning back on same.” (Charlie Chan at Monte Carlo)
  61. It is difficult to pick up needle with boxing glove. (Charlie Chan’s Chance)
  62. It takes very rainy day to drown duck. (Charlie Chan’s Chance)
  63. Kind thoughts add favorable weight, in balance of life and death. (Charlie Chan in Egypt)
  64. Law is honest man’s eyeglass to see better. (Charlie Chan’s Greatest Case)
  65. Long road, sometimes shortest way to end of journey. (Charlie Chan at the Race Track)
  66. Man cannot drink from glass without touching. (Charlie Chan in Paris)
  67. Man has learned much, who has learned how to die. (Dead Men Tell)
  68. Man is not incurably drowned – if still knows he is all wet. (Charlie Chan’s Chance)
  69. Man who fears death die thousand times. (Castle in the Desert)
  70. Man who flirt with dynamite sometime fly with angels. (Charlie Chan at the Race Track)
  71. Man who improve house before building foundation, apt to run into very much trouble. (The Feathered Serpent)
  72. Man who ride tiger, cannot dismount. (The Chinese Ring)
  73. Man who seek trouble never find it far off. (Charlie Chan at the Circus)
  74. Man never born who can tell what woman will, or will not, do. (Charlie Chan in Reno)
  75. Mind, like parachute, only function when open. (Charlie Chan at the Circus)
  76. More fear, more talk. (Charlie Chan in London)
  77. Most mysterious thing is what mankind does to itself for reasons difficult to understand. (1935 Pennsylvania Referendum Message)
  78. Much evil can enter through very small space. (Charlie Chan at the Circus)
  79. Must harvest rice before can boil it. (Docks of New Orleans)
  80. Necessity mother of invention, but sometimes stepmother of deception. (Charlie Chan’s Secret)
  81. No one knows less about servants than their master. (Charlie Chan in Shanghai)
  82. Optimist only sees doughnut, pessimist sees hole. (Charlie Chan in Paris)
  83. Owner of face cannot always see nose. (Charlie Chan in Shanghai)
  84. Patience, big sister to wisdom. (City in Darkness City in Darkness)
  85. Patience lead to knowledge. (Charlie Chan in Panama)
  86. Sharp wit sometimes much better than deadly weapon. (Castle in the Desert)
  87. Silence best answer when uncertain. (Charlie Chan in Shanghai)
  88. Silence big sister to wisdom. (Charlie Chan in Paris)
  89. Silent witness, sometime speak loudest. (Charlie Chan at the Circus)
  90. Smart fly keep out of gravy. (Charlie Chan at the Race Track)
  91. Smart rats know when to leave ship. (Charlie Chan in Shanghai)
  92. Talk cannot cook rice. (Charlie Chan in Shanghai)
  93. The ignorant always loud in argument. (Docks of New Orleans)
  94. The impossible sometimes permits itself the luxury of occurring. (Charlie Chan’s Chance)
  95. Theory like mist on eyeglasses – obscures facts. (Charlie Chan in Egypt)
  96. Tongue often hang man quicker than rope. (Charlie Chan at Monte Carlo)
  97. To speak without thinking is to shoot without aiming. (Charlie Chan’s Murder Cruise)
  98. Trouble, like first love, teach many lessons. (Dead Men Tell)
  99. Trouble with modern children, they do not smart in right place. (Charlie Chan in The Secret Service)
  100. Truth, like football – receive many kicks before reaching goal. (Charlie Chan at the Olympics)
  101. Truth sometimes like stab of cruel knife. (Charlie Chan at the Race Track)
  102. Two ears for every tongue. (Charlie Chan in Shanghai)
  103. Under strong general there are no weak soldiers. (Charlie Chan’s Chance)
  104. Unhappy news sometimes correct self next day. (Charlie Chan at Treasure Island)
  105. Useless as life preserver for fish. (Charlie Chan’s Chance)
  106. Useless talk like boat without oar – get no place. (Charlie Chan at the Race Track)
  107. Very difficult to believe ill of those we love. (Charlie Chan in Reno)
  108. Very wise know way out before going in. (Charlie Chan at the Circus)
  109. Waiting for tomorrow waste of today. (Charlie Chan in Egypt)
  110. When money talk, few are deaf. (Charlie Chan in Honolulu)
  111. When pilot unreliable, ship cannot keep true course. (Charlie Chan’s Secret)
  112. When player cannot see man who deal cards, much wiser to stay out of game. (Charlie Chan at the Race Track)
  113. Willingness to speak, not necessarily mean willingness to act. (The Golden Eye)
  114. Woman’s tongue like sword that never gets rusty. (Charlie Chan’s Greatest Case)
  115. Woman’s voice like monastery bell, when tolling, must attend. (Charlie Chan’s Greatest Case)

TOPICS: General Discusssion; Humor
KEYWORDS: charliechan; charliechansayings; msgrcharlespope
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1 posted on 03/24/2012 11:50:01 AM PDT by NYer
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To: netmilsmom; thefrankbaum; Tax-chick; GregB; saradippity; Berlin_Freeper; Litany; SumProVita; ...


2 posted on 03/24/2012 11:51:13 AM PDT by NYer (He who hides in his heart the remembrance of wrongs is like a man who feeds a snake on his chest. St)
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To: NYer
Great! Thanks!

Daughters and I have been watching some of these on Netflix...

3 posted on 03/24/2012 11:55:18 AM PDT by gettinolder (Smashed lips save ships.)
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To: NYer

Thanks for that, have watched all of the movies i could find, but not all of them,

4 posted on 03/24/2012 11:58:10 AM PDT by captmar-vell
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To: NYer

Yep, I fondly remember Charlie Chan movies.

You can get some heated debates among Chan fans by asking who they prefer: Warner Oland, Sidney Toler, or Roland Winters, in the title role.

5 posted on 03/24/2012 11:58:21 AM PDT by Dilbert San Diego
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To: captmar-vell

I have not seen any Chan movies on TV in recent years.

I’ve heard that they have been pulled due to political correctness. There are so many other old movies on AMC, TNT, and other channels, it makes you wonder how they could overlook every single one of these Chan movies.

6 posted on 03/24/2012 12:00:21 PM PDT by Dilbert San Diego
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To: NYer
I am a fan of the Sidney Toler movies. He was a better Chan. Warner Oland was alright, but Toler was better.

You gotta love Netflix. Most of the Chan movies are streaming so I can watch them whenever I want. I had not seen one in decades. Channel 17 in Philly used to run them real late on a Saturday night. The good old days of antenna TV.

7 posted on 03/24/2012 12:01:56 PM PDT by Lazlo in PA (Now living in a newly minted Red State.)
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To: captmar-vell

Actually, two or three of the earlier Chan films are “lost,” with no known prints in existence.

Always enjoyed the Chan films, even the el-cheapo later ones from Monogram (which are actually pretty dire). I even own a copy of an original one-sheet movie poster from one of the Chan films, circa 1939.

8 posted on 03/24/2012 12:03:07 PM PDT by greene66
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To: NYer

Thanks for the dad loved CC. Reading this brought him back to if but for a moment.

9 posted on 03/24/2012 12:11:52 PM PDT by phatus maximus ( John 6:29. Learn it, love it, live it.)
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To: Dilbert San Diego
I read once that the movies were banned by FOX for quite a while because the wife of some network bigwig found them "offensive". But the demand led to very profitable DVD releases instead. They are almost all available on commercial DVDs...pretty cheaply too if you shop online. I like all of the actors who played Chan...although, yes, Warner Oland's films are the best. In part due to better production values as well as the actor.

10 posted on 03/24/2012 12:12:50 PM PDT by LostInBayport (When there are more people riding in the cart than there are pulling it, the cart stops moving...)
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To: LostInBayport

By the way in reference to FOX I meant 20th Century FOX, not FNC. Although I bet Alan Colmes and Geraldo would find them “offensive” too.

11 posted on 03/24/2012 12:15:40 PM PDT by LostInBayport (When there are more people riding in the cart than there are pulling it, the cart stops moving...)
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To: NYer

That inscrutable Chinaman!

12 posted on 03/24/2012 12:21:18 PM PDT by Oratam
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To: NYer

Thank you—these are wonderful! Thanks to the monsignor’s father, as well.

13 posted on 03/24/2012 12:25:02 PM PDT by Mach9
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To: NYer

Lots of full length Chan films here.

14 posted on 03/24/2012 12:26:03 PM PDT by Bobalu (It is not obama we are fighting, it is the media.)
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To: NYer
I love Charlie Chan! My family and I have been making short films for years and last year we did a Chan film. I played Chan and my daughter played "#1 daughter, Sue Chan". Sidney Toler is my favorite Chan, but I love 'em all. Here is the lobby card we made of our movie:
15 posted on 03/24/2012 12:26:14 PM PDT by Kharis13 (That noise you hear is our Founding Fathers spinning in their graves.)
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To: Dilbert San Diego

Wasn’t there a fourth (and I don’t mean whoever played Chan in that 80s movie (Peter Falk was Sam Spade . . .)?

16 posted on 03/24/2012 12:28:20 PM PDT by Mach9
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To: Kharis13

17 posted on 03/24/2012 12:28:37 PM PDT by Kharis13 (That noise you hear is our Founding Fathers spinning in their graves.)
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To: Kharis13
Here's me with my daughter, mugging for the camera on "Charlie Chan in Transylvania".
18 posted on 03/24/2012 12:32:54 PM PDT by Kharis13 (That noise you hear is our Founding Fathers spinning in their graves.)
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To: Kharis13


I loved CC movies ever since I first saw them 6 or 7 years back.

19 posted on 03/24/2012 12:33:50 PM PDT by wally_bert (It's sheer elegance in its simplicity! - The Middleman)
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To: Mach9

I cannot remember a 4th Charlie Chan. If he’s out there, it would be a good trivia question to ask knowledgeable Chan fans about.

20 posted on 03/24/2012 12:35:35 PM PDT by Dilbert San Diego
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