Series: Charley Chase
Director: Warren Doane
Producer: Hal Roach
Story editor: H.M. Walker
Photography: George Stevens
Editor: Richard C. Currier
Sound: Elmer Raguse
Stars: Charley Chase, Isabelle Keith, Dixie Gay, Barbara Leonard, Maurice Black
Released: 22 June 1929
Length: 2 reels
Production No.: C-22
Filming dates: April 29 - May 3, 1929
NOT ON DVD
Charley is a singer in a nightclub. Dressed in a tuxedo he serenades a young woman, Barbara, in attendance who bashfully admires him from nearby. Charley's song also has an impact on other women in the audience: Mrs. (Evelyn) Burns looks on in awe, leaning all over a young man sitting besides her (maybe her son, I mean, he's about thirty years younger than she), as well as another woman (Kay Deslys) who cries into her handkerchief before her husband (Rolfe Sedan) takes it from her with a look of disgust. The song ends when a cigarette girl (Dixie Gay) walks by Charley and calls out for customers. Charley walks over and sits down at Barbara's table. A drunk at the table (Ernie Adams) insists that Charley have some of his alcohol, and after Charley resists several times he finally fills up his lighter with alcohol. Unfortunately when Charley ignites it, it sets fire to the waiter's (Harry Bernard) trousers.
Barbara's mother, Mrs. Harrison (Isabelle Keith) gets off a ship and is immediately surrounded by reporters who ask her about her operation. Charley hops on to the side of an ambulance and hitches a ride to the docks to meet up with Barbara who is waiting for her mother to get off the ship. Mother and daughter are reunited as Charley runs off down the docks to enlist the help of two ambulance guys with a stretcher but accidentally knocks over an Englishman holding a huge boquet of flowers (four times, with the bouquet getting smaller and smaller with each fall!) - [see favourite scene]. When Charley is finally introduced to Barbara's mother he finds that he is instantly attracted to her. After the Englishman gets out of the sea and is floored by Charley for the fourth time, he finally lets Charley have it! The ambulance guys (Charlie Hall is one of them) carry him into the back of the ambulance.
Back at the nightclub and Charley is now conducting the orchestra when he sees Barbara enter with her mother so he jumps a railing to go and greet them both. The mother (who later identifies herself as 'Betty') greets Charley with a kiss before the three of them are seated at a table. Barbara gets up with George, the drunk and takes the dancefloor with Charley and Betty following shortly afterwards. Charley and Betty dance and compliment each other. Charley asks if he would be a good husband for her daughter, to which Betty replies that she thinks he would make anyone a good husband. It's obvious she is after him. When the dance finishes they all sit down but Charley excuses himself and seeks out the cigarette girl (Dixie) before asking her to nip down the road and buy some rock candy for him.
She gives the money to a waiter to do it on her behalf as Charley retires to the washroom to confess to the mirror that he is falling in love with the mother. Jerry (the waiter) returns with the rock candy and gives it to Dixie, who throws it away and then hands a similar looking box to Charley. He thanks her but asks her to keep away from him while he is singing. Charley takes to the dancefloor to start singing a number after taking some candy first. But it's not candy - it's alum, and Charley cannot sing; puckering his lips and pulling faces as the mother and daughter watch in astonishment. The band leader and two saxophone players help themselves to the alum and react in comical fashion. A guest comes into the club and starts speaking with Nick, the manager. The manager tells him that Charley left and married one of the two women, but wouldn't reveal which one. The final scene has Charley playing a ukelele to a woman with her back to the camera. When she finally turns round to reveal who she is.... then we find out!
Without doubt it has to be the running gag where Charley continually bumps into the Englishman on the docks, spilling the man's boquet of flowers everywhere. This happens three times and each time Charley apologises, the Englishman simply says "oh that's alright!" But it's when Charley kicks away the rolling chair, collecting the guy and dumping him into the sea that is just brilliant! Made me laugh out loud.
• Copyrighted December 9, 1929.
• The film exists but is not currently available commercially to buy on DVD (as of 2020).
• My review was made using a complete print of the film, and with assistance from the complete shooting continuity script. The sources for these will remain confidential. I was permitted to watch and review the film on the strict conditions that no screenshots or images from the film be published on this website. I can confirm that the film is in good shape and has all of its original credits (which includes Isabel Keith, Dixie Gay, Barbara Leonard, Maurice Black) and original title card presented in a framed and patterned octagon. Please do not write to me asking for screenshots or a copy of the film as I only acquired it under extremely strict conditions.
• The opening scenes take place in a nightclub not too dissimilar to the one seen in Laurel and Hardy's "Blotto". Charley's opening song lasts over 2 minutes, during which the most amount of movement he makes is the occasional lift of his eyebrows and opening his mouth!
• One source refers to Isabelle Keith's character as Mrs. Haley, but in the film and continuity script she is Mrs. Betty Harrison. For the record in the opening credits her name is spelt "Isabel".
• The name of Mrs. Harrison's plastic surgeon is Doctor Lorenzo.
• When Mrs. Harrison is being interviewed on the dock, two of the reporters are Jack Hill (on the left) and Ham Kinsey (on the right).
• There is a scene when Charley runs along the dock and bumps into an Englishman and knocks him over. Charley responds by saying "Oh am I sorry!" He uses the exact same line several times in his next movie, Snappy Sneezer.
What the experts say
• "It's a slow start to the film, with Charley dominating the entire first two minutes with a song and with very few cutaways, but it does pick up. There is one scene which is quite frankly one of the funniest I have ever seen in a Chase film where Charley continually runs into a man holding some flowers on the docks. EVen when it becomes predictable it is still hilarious. The pacing of the film fluctuates between slow and enjoyable with Charley's three songs padding out the picture. Overall a pretty decent comedy with a suspenseful and twist ending!" ~ Lord Heath.
Betty Harrison, mother
Barbara Harrison, daughter
Nick, club manager
George, the drunk
Crying wife's husband
Girl sitting at Barbara's table
Reporter who tips his hat
(click any image to enlarge)
Smile When The Raindrops Fall by Brian Anthony & Andy Edmonds (book)
Stan Taffel (poster)
Peter Mikkelsen (poster)
Jorge Finkielman (poster cleaning)
Lorenzo Tremarelli (identification of poster)
Anonymous (source of the print and continuity script)
This page was last updated on: 29 May 2020