Should Second Husbands Come First?
Series: All Stars w/Max Davidson
Company: Pathé Exchange
Released: 23 October 1927
Type: silent short
Length: 2-reels
Production: H-19
Filming dates: April 11-21, 1927
Director: Leo McCarey
Producer: Hal Roach
Photography:
Editor:
Ethan Wattles: Max Davidson
Widow: Lillian Elliott
The widow's younger son: Spec O'Donnell
The widow's older son: David Butler
Wedding guest: Alice Belcher

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Recently widowed mother of two Lillian Elliott is "acting like she had birds on her aerial" whilst flirting with a rolled-up rug on her sofa. The two sons (David Butler and Spec O'Donnell) humour her when she tells them she is going to marry Mr. Wattles, who arrives at the house. Through his silhouette cast upon the blind, the widow observes his seemingly good manners when he combs his hair, his beard and files his fingernails. He enters the house and the sons take an immediate disliking to their potential new step-father and make a plan to scare him out of getting married to their mother.
The older son puts on a disguise and through an open window throws a cushion at Wattles to get his attention before handing him a note advising him not to go through with the marriage. As the widow comes into the room to sit with her husband-to-be the older son appears in the doorway and makes gestures and pulls faces at him in an attempt to appear insane. He is joined by the younger son who bounces on a pogo stick and behaving irrationally with his brother, walking back and forth in the open doorway (these gags wear a bit thin rather quickly to be honest). Distracted and clearly disturbed by what he has just witnessed, Wattles gets scared when the two boys enter the room with one attached to a rope and bouncing all over the furniture. The widow catches them in the act and reprimands them severely before telling her sons to entertain Wattles whilst she goes to make dinner. The boys sit either side of him on the sofa and begin messing with him; brushing his jacket, sweeping hands through his hair, plucking hairs out of his moustache... until Wattles gets fed up with the uncomfortable situation and gets up to walk around the room.
Wattles asks the son how his father died? The sons tell him that their mother poisoned his food. At that moment the widow announces that she has made Wattles some green-pea soup especially. The four of them sit down at the table to eat, with Wattles reluctant to take a spoonful. He notes a painting hanging on the wall of the departed husband and envisions him making gestures in his direction to imply that Wattle's fate will soon be the same. Suspicious that his food has been laced with gasoline, Wattles begins spooning his soup into the nearby gas fire, which ignites violently with each spoonful thrown onto it! His beard then catches fire from the candle on the table and the two brothers helpfully try to extinguish it by smashing cushions into Wattle's face.
Then comes the day of the wedding. As guests bring up their gifts for the happy couple, the two boys devise their wicked plan to compromise the event by bringing a black baby to the wedding and offer it as the result of the groom's affair with another woman (Spec O'Donnell dresses up as such). When the priest asks if there is any reason why the couple shouldn't be married - in storm the two sons in disguise and tell the guests that the groom had fathered a love child with another woman. The sons portray a father and daughter and tell the alleged story of the groom as a travelling salesman who stayed at their house one night, impregnated the daughter and married her, all the while Wattles protests his innocence. The ruse is ended when the boys inadvertently show the baby's brown backside to the guests. All is forgiven but the two sons get the last laugh by offering Wattles a gift which mocks him one last time.

Favourite bit
Okay, so that's not dodgy at all, is it?

Trivia
Copyrighted July 8, 1927.
According to the opening intertitle card the widow in the film is aged 40. Lillian Elliott was in fact 53 years old when this film was made.
The hand written note that the older son gives to Mr. Wattles reads, "Beware! Don't marry the widow. Her sons are dizzy in their domes. ~ One who knows."
During the scene where Max Davidson is sitting on the couch and observing the two sons behaving strangely, you can clearly see the gaps in his mouth where his teeth once were.
They keep a container of gasoline under the table with several lighted candles on top of it. Yeah that was a good idea, I don't think.
Can you just imagine in today's world of the over-sensitive outrage that would be created by powdering down a black child to make it look white for a film storyline?

What the experts say
"Tedious, overlong and unfunny." ~ Lord Heath.

Max Davidson
Mr. Ethan Wattles
Lillian Elliott
Widow
Spec O'Donnell
The widow's younger son/
Gloria
David Butler
The widow's older son
Edgar Sherrod
Fake wedding priest
Alice Belcher
Wedding guest
   
UNIDENTIFIED CAST

INTERTITLE CARDS

CREDITS LOBBY CARD

Acknowledgements:
Jorge Finkielman (poster cleaning)
Jesse Brisson (identification of Edgar Sherrod)

This page was last updated on: 28 June 2018