Poker At Eight  
 
09 March 1935
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
sound short
2-reels

 

Director: Charley Chase  Producer: Hal Roach
Cinematography: Art Lloyd  Editor: William H. Terhune  Sound recording: William Randall

The guys are are at the poker table, awaiting Charley's arrival when Baldwin Cooke calls him on the phone.  Charley tells him he won't be attending; instead, he is staying at home with the wife (Constance Bergen).  Charley breaks out into song for some reason, pouring out his woes down the line to his poker buddy.
We see in a flashback what led up to Charley's banishment from the poker game: Charley, his wife and another couple are playing a round of golf.  Charley sinks an incredible putt in front of his opponent Tommy (Tom Dugan), who inquires as to how Charley did it so perfectly?  Charley confesses he hypnotised the ball.  Intrigued, Tommy asks Charley to do likewise on him.  Charley obliges but no sooner does he begin the ritual, one of the women hits her ball and knocks Tommy on the back of the head with it, knocking him out.  When he comes round, Tommy believes his hypnosis was the result of Charley's doing and is impressed.
That evening, Charley is frustrated at home and decides to use his unusual powers on his wife.  She fakes being under his spell and gives him permission to go to the poker game as he had planned.  Charley excitedly gets dressed for the evening, oblivious to the trap he is about to walk into.
The deceiving wife also gets dressed up in her best clothes and reveals her scheme to the maid.  Mrs. Chase leaves the house and hails a cab to take her around the block, before getting out again close to her house where Charley cannot see her.  She sneaks back into the house to find Charley, who has also popped back after a brief encounter with new-cop-on-the-block Harry Bernard.  This process has to be repeated again because the wife is caught in the middle of her scheme even though Charley is oblivious to the fact.
The cop and Charley repeat their awkward encounter, as do the cabbie and Mrs. Chase.  Charley leaves the house for a third time, now dressed in a raincoat - much to the startled bemusement of the cop.  Meanwhile, Mrs. Chase gets cautious about being discovered so calls up Tommy's wife and asks if she can go out with her husband for the night, though Tommy is pre-occupied with trying to hypnotise the cat into pretending it's a dog.
Outside, whilst Charley and the cop crawl around a post box, Tommy hails the cab driven by Bowen and asks to be driven up the road to where Mrs. Chase is standing.  Charley hails his own cab and tells the driver (James C. Morton) to follow the cab in front, with his wife and Tommy in.
Eventually they all meet up at a nightclub and Charley discovers that his wife is out with Charley's best friend, Tommy.  She flirts outrageously with Tommy right under Charley's nose whilst Charley looks puzzled.  The maitre d' (Ben Taggart) isn't happy with the woman's behaviour when she begins dancing with Tommy and asks Charley to calm her down.  Charley, believing he has hypnotised her from earlier that evening tries to help.  Charley also tells Tommy to leave Mrs. Chase alone and carries out yet another hypnotic episode on his friend.
Tommy pretends to be hypnotised just as the waiter comes to collect the bill for Tommy's wine, which Charley almost ends up having to pay.  The maitre d' steps in and un-hypnotises Tommy with a kick in the pants.  A psychiatrist (Jerry Mandy) is called to the nightclub (his entrance is pretty good!) and explains that the woman who is apparently hypnotised can only be un-hypnotised by the one who put her in that state. Even so, he takes a shot at trying to bring her out of her trance and ends up sending himself to sleep!
Mrs. Chase comes out of her supposed hypnotised state and confronts her husband by trying to convince him that he is now under her power. Charley flips and runs for the exit, sending everybody in his path, as well as plates, flying.

Favourite bit
Unusually, I have chosen Charley's song routine from the beginning of the film as my favourite moment in the film.  Good words, well sung and doesn't slow the film down at all.  Unfortunately, there are not too many stand-out scenes in the film to choose from.

Facts
•Production C-30 - Charley Chase series.
•Copyrighted May 7, 1935.
Did you notice?
•Baldwin Cooke has the first line of the film, "it's nearly eight o'clock, I wonder if that guy's coming?"
•The song Charley sings over the phone is "I'm In The Dog House".
•When Charley and his company are playing golf, the sign next to them says "Echo Valley".  Also, the lady on the left (Bernadene Hayes) is holding her club wrong, and swinging incorrectly as well.  In the next scene where Charley and Tommy are on the putting green, the pin (hole) is too close to the edge of the green to be credible.  And whilst we're on the subject, when Charley plays his putt shot, he is entitled by the rules of golf to ask his opponent to remove (and mark) his own ball as it lies in a direct line between Charley's own ball and the hole.  When the woman plays her shot she is entitled by the rules to have the pin (flag) in because she is playing her stroke from off the green.  The fact she manages to hit her ball and have it strike a person in the head whilst he is standing on the green indicates a very poor shot.  The ball should be landing on the green, and not at head-height.
•The game of golf takes place on a Sunday, according to Charley.
•Charley is standing by the road minding his own business when a policeman approaches and asks him if he lives around here?  Seriously - what has it got to do with you whether he does or not?  The cop implies that Charley is in some way breaking the law?
•The poker game that Charley is on his way to begins at 8pm.  When he leaves his house it is dark outside and presumably before 8pm.  If this was "for real" then that would suggest it was winter.  Given that the film was released in March 1935, it can be presumed it was shot around November/December 1934, which fits nicely into that scenario.
•When Tommy gets into the cab he instructs the driver to go to 602 Harper Avenue (Charley's house).
•When Charley pushes Tommy backwards in the nightclub foyer, Tommy unintentionally kicks up the carpet from underneath him.
•No poker is actually played during the film, despite the title.

Charley Chase
Charley Chase
Constance Bergen
Charley's wife
Bernadene Hayes
Tommy's wife
Tom Dugan
Tommy
Harry Bernard
Cop
Harry Bowen
First taxi driver
Baldwin Cooke
Poker player
Lester Dorr
Nightclub dancer
Mildred Gover
Hattie, the maid
Carlton Griffin
Head waiter
Charlie Hall
Waiter
Jerry Mandy
Professor Bing
James C. Morton
Second taxi driver
Ben Taggart
Maitre d'
Don Brodie
Poker player with newspaper
  Jack Raymond
Poker player
   





Acknowledgements:
Smile When The Raindrops Fall by Brian Anthony & Andy Edmonds (book)
The Charley Chase Talkies 1929-1940 by James L. Neibaur (book)
Richard Finegan (3 stills)

This page was last updated on: 12 March 2015