Series: Charley Chase
Director: Leo McCarey
Producer: Hal Roach
Titles: H.M. Walker
Stars: Charley Chase, Martha Sleeper, William Gillespie, Sammy Brooks
Company: Pathé Exchange
Released: 04 January 1925
Length: 1 reel
Production No.: D-76
Filming dates: October 14-19, 1924
The Rat's Knuckles
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Jimmy Jump (Charley Chase) is the inventor of a perfect mouse-trap. His sweetheart, 'Flirty' McFickle (Martha Sleeper) works in a diner where she serves Jimm's rival (William Gillespie) coffee. As he leaves Charley enters and embraces her and tells her that once his mouse trap invention gets off the ground they will have millions of dollars. Together they envision their future, living in a big mansion, wearing fine clothes and being photographed by the press. They have completely turned into snobs and Jimmy is mean to everybody. Back in the present and Jimmy makes his way downtown to try and sell his invention to an investor, completely ignoring a man struggling to move a piano and a blind man begging for money. Jimmy starts rambling on to the investor (Jules Mendel) about how wonderful his rat trap invention is and how it is going to revolutionize the rat and mouse industry as the bored man sits there impatiently listening.
Jimmy waffles on for so long he doesn't notice that the investor has gone to lunch. Dejected, Jimmy leaves the building and tries to hand his invention to the blind man but not even he wants it! Jimmy's girlfriend gets off work and meets him outside the diner. She asks him if he sold his invention but when he says no she quickly runs off with the coffee-customer from earlier (wow, what a money-grabbing little gold digger she turned out to be!) That night Jimmy finds himself down by the docks at a place called "The River's Edge" where he contemplates suicide but just as he is about to jump into the water he is saved by a well-dressed man who claims to be a financier. Jimmy shows him his invention and gives a demonstration, which works successfully. When the mouse tries to take the cheese from the trap it triggers a jack-in-the-box doll which scares the creature into a matchbox-like casing and causes the mouse to feel ashamed. The guy considers the idea and decides Jimmy should have gone ahead with his original plan... and helps him on his way!
The final scene where Jimmy's invention idea is fully revealed to a total stranger who then regrets talking him out of jumping into the water!
• Copyrighted December 26, 1924.
• It's almost incredible to think that during the filming of this Martha Sleeper had only recently turned 14 years old.
• In the scene where Martha Sleeper sees a rat on the floor and all the diners panic, I think Martin Wolfkiel can be seen at the counter.
• Sammy Brooks plays the blind man and is also one of the diners in the cafe.
• This was Clara Guiol's first film for Hal Roach. She can briefly be glimpsed as the waitress beind the counter in the cafe.
• Martha Sleeper's character works at the Boulevard Cafe.
• There exists one print of the film that includes an extended sequence that involves Prince George of England. This version is a 35MM print restored by local film historian Joe Rinaudo and it was screened at the final meeting of the Sons of the Desert Early To Bed tent group in 2016 then at the Cinecon Film Festival in 2017. This sequence takes place at the end of the dream scene as Charley and Martha are driving off. Martha then says (by title card) “look - there’s the Prince”. Then we see Prince Edward onscreen who turns and smiles slightly followed by a title card where Charley says “morning Ed”. Apparently this sequence was deleted by the Roach studio editors as there was somewhat of an unwritten rule at that time that footage of the royal family would only be used in newsreels and such to avoid potential embarrassment to the royal family. There is also a sequence in the beginning of the film where Charley decides to help some guys unloading a truck, with disastrous results, that was also deleted from production prints. Don’t know why - in fact in the film there is a brief sequence where Charley comes upon the same guys again unloading their truck. He stops to help, then realizing who these guys are, quickly goes on his way. Without the earlier scenes that were cut this sequence really just falls flat. The earlier sequence may have been cut because the film ran long - who knows. Apparently this particular print was a work print at the Roach studio and that’s why it didn’t get cut by the editors. It is believed Joe restored the print for the Library of Congress so it’s unlikely that this print will ever be duped by anybody. As a consequence we’ll not see this version screened any time soon but it does exist.
What the experts say
• "Short and sweet comedy, not a whole lot of plot or character development but relatively satisfying none the less." ~ Lord Heath.
• "Speaking as a rather obsessed fan I find Martha’s work in this film to be absolutely adorable. The very charmingly named “Flirty McFickle” always brings a big smile to my face when I see this film." ~ Bob Duncan.
Patent office clerk
Diner who stands on chair
Bob Duncan (still and additional information)
Jesse Brisson (identification of Ed Porter)
This page was last updated on: 05 January 2019