The Golf Bug  
 
Hal Roach series with Paul Parrott
Production No. C-59
29 October 1922
Pathé Exchange
silent short
1-reel

 

Director: James D. Davis Cinematography: ?
Producer: Hal Roach Editor: ?
Titles: ?

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As with all Roach silents, this one begins with a title card: News Item ~ Thousands were bitten by the Golf Bug last year ~ Many went "cuckoo" from other causes. We see a miniature statue with its back to us, the base of which reads "The Golf Bug." A hand turns the statue sideways, revealing it to be a cartoonish depiction of a mustached man leaning over a ball with his golf club. The shot of the statue crossfades to a similarly-stanced older man (Wallace Howe) who swings. His daughter (Jobyna Ralston), as a card tells us, "had a big day ~ Went around the course in 308." Teeing off, she warns her father but he is occupied with his own ball. Nonetheless, she swings and the ball hits her father in the back; he picks up her ball and tosses it away in retaliation.
We then meet "the padded-cell variety": a straitjacketed George Rowe. He makes up for his lack of free arm movement by kicking his golf ball; in a very clever visual gag, he has different golf club heads on a rotating belt connected to the bottom of his shoe, which he switches around (as one with free arms would switch golf clubs) by stepping on a sort-of lever for stabilization. He then kicks again, and walks to the ball near the hole, from which he removes the flag from with his leg; he switches heads again, and gently sinks the ball into the hole.  Satisfactory.
After this brief interlude, we meet "Beginners ~ Have only been playing ten days ~ Won't become violent for another week." We meet a quartet of golfers (Roy Brooks, Sammy Brooks, Marvin Loback, and a very slender unidentified man) taking their turns on the green. They make their way onto a driving green, to the chagrin of a fairly large group of golfers standing at the edge. The foursome wave them off, and they are summarily pelted with multiple balls.
Enter "The Professional ~ Doesn't like to talk about himself ~ Unless he can get somebody to listen." The Professional (Eddie Baker) performs a trick for a crowd including the girl (whom he briefly flirts with), her father and the four golfers. The trick involves his club, a lit match and a cigarette; whatever it is, he performs it successfully. Enter Paul (James Parrott), "Only one drawback to his game ~ He can't hit the ball." Clad in top hat and tails, he talks with the girl and removes his top hat -- into which the Professional flicks his cigarette. He places it back, only to (of course) remove it again upon contact and dump a pail of water from the ball-washing station into it. He chastises the Professional, who in turn tells him to "Stop beefin' ~ Be a gent!" He places the hat back on and douses himself, the crowd laughing all the way and the girl helping dry him off with a small towel. The Professional sets up as Paul brags to the girl, "I do all that trick stuff, too." Paul challenges and gets up to the platform; he tees off (smacking the girl's father's hand in the process), only to completely miss and twirl, his top hat flying off, again to the amusement of the crowd. Paul storms off to collect his hat, the Professional smacking mulitple golf balls into his rear end -- including one hit off the nose of a lying caddy.
  Back at his house, Paul practices ("His game has improved ~ He now knows the difference between a mid-iron and a bunker") on an ersatz course with netting around it, two butlers and a maid tensely standing to the side. One of the butlers (Mark Jones, with a false elongated nose) serves as caddy while Paul attempts a shot which, according to a card, "only the experts can pull . . ." He sets the ball onto a statue and swings, completely busting the statue. Frustrated, Paul hatches an idea to recreate the Professional's "off the nose" trick with his butler/caddy, who objects ("I have a family, Sir ~ Many, many children!"). Nonetheless, after a false start where the servant sits up, Paul performs the trick. However, he has warped and dented the servant's nose which Paul presses back into shape.

Paul's father (a grayed-up Charles Stevenson), a top-hatted old man who "cares no more about golf than Sitting Bull did about shorthand," walks through a door and behind a sheet which Paul is swinging a line of balls at -- and apparently, through. After meeting contact with several errant balls, the father goes back out and tries to enter through a window, through which a dissatisfied Paul has tossed his golf club (guess what happens!). He then climbs through another window, covered by another target sheet which Paul has turned his attentions to. He peeks out and gets hit with a ball, and eventually top-hat-less thanks to an errant ball, he exits out once again. Paul has a scrambled mess of balls on the floor which he begins randomly swinging at, scaring off his three servants and hitting his old man multiple times. Eventually, the father reenters in a suit of armor and takes several swings of Paul's club to the stomach before he unmasks himself and briefly chases after Paul. His wife (Paul's mother) intervenes, however, telling her husband that "It keeps his mind off o' work!" The father sulks off as mother and son hug.

The Championship Game - The winner gets the Royal Cup. The loser gets the royal razz. At the game, The Professional lands a good shot. Now it's Paul's turn; he swings and hits the ball, and everyone looks into the distance without any idea as to where the ball landed. Paul and all of the crowd go and search, and while the crowd goes off, Paul calls over a dog. Paul puts a golf ball in the canine's mouth and it takes off to Paul's dismay. Ultimately, Paul finds the ball -- but they are separated by a river. After some futile efforts to reach over, Paul actually lengthens his golf club to reach over and yells fore; only he misses and twirls right into the drink. After several more futile attempts to hit the ball, Paul angrily throws down his club and tosses the ball himself.

Meanwhile, the Professional calls over one of the other golfers (Loback) and executes a shady-looking deal, handing him a ball and something else before sending him off. The golfer walks over to Paul's ball on the green, and reveals in close-up that the Professional handed him a hallow ball and a frog, which the golfer puts into the ball and replaces the existing ball before everyone walks over. After the Professional effortlessly puts his ball into the hole (and shakes hands with the girl's father), Paul grabs a club from his caddy (the same golfer -- Loback -- who replaced the ball) and as he prepares to swing, the ball bounces away. He attempts again, only the ball moves the other way. Thus begins Paul's ball troubles (!), with Paul repeatedly swinging and the ball jumping over his club, at one point even hitting Paul in the chest. Paul attempts to smack the jumping ball, but it evades every smack even as Paul tries to act sneaky. Paul steps on the ball, but it bounces up and Paul winds up smacking his foot. The ball bounces a bit away as Paul attempts to sneak up on it; in a visual that is for this reviewer's money, the funniest little bit in the film (running neck-and-neck with George Rowe's small scene), he repeatedly and rapidly puts back and forth as the ball keeps jumping over his club. The ball then travels onto and up his club and slinks around on Paul himself. Ultimately, the errant ball leaps onto Paul's head; Paul readys his club, and the expected happens. The ball bounces back to its original spot as Paul crawls after it. Paul grabs another club from his caddy and finally, he successfully puts the ball, which absurdly twirls around and into the hole, giving Paul the win.

Cut to the suddent appearance of a Cupid-like figure, back to the camera, with a golf ball in his hand which he mushes into the shape of a heart. Cupid turns around and... well, I don't feel I should ruin the surprise, but he puts the heart on a bow as Paul flirts with Jobyna, and they lean in to kiss -- however, right before their lips make contact, and without seeing what Cupid does with his arrow, the film (or at least the extant print) cuts to the "THE END/PATHEGRAMS" card.

FURTHER NOTES:
- After Loback replaces the ball and everyone enters: in the shot of the caddy (the unknown slender man) handing Baker his club, it looks like Sam Lufkin may be behind them (in the middle of the screen, between the caddy and Baker, wearing a porkpie hat).
- A few shots later, when Paul's ball dilemma begins, it looks like Chet Brandenburg may be observing in the background in a white shirt; framewise, of the background observers (not counting Jobyna, Paul, Loback), he is third from left, almost right behind Paul's right (screen left).

  Favourite bit
X

Facts
Production C-59 - Hal Roach series with Paul Parrott.
Copyrighted November 11, 1922.
Re-issued June 13, 1926.

Filming dates
July 11-17, 122, with retakes July 24 and August 1, 1922.

Trivia
According to a title card, Jobyna Ralston cleared the course in 308 strokes.  However, an 18-hole course should be cleared in a maximum of 204 strokes.  Each player is permitted to take a '12' per hole.
You have to admit, that was still quite a shot from George Rowe to kick the golf ball into the hole despite wearing the contraption on his foot.
After the golfers conclude their play and wave the players behind them to play, about 100 balls come flying onto the green.  That's all well and good, but how on earth are they going to identify whose ball is whose?

James Parrott
Paul
Jobyna Ralston
Daughter
Wallace Howe
Father
George Rowe
Golfer in straightjacket
Marvin Loback
Golfer
  Roy Brooks
Golfer
Sammy Brooks
Golfer
Eddie Baker
The Professional golfer
  Mickey Daniels
?
   
UNIDENTIFIED CAST
 

CREDITS POSTERS & LOBBY CARDS
(None) (None)

SHOT ON THE LOT
The following scenes were filmed on the Hal Roach Back Lot and are included in the TOUR
(None)

Thanks to: David GlassJesse Brisson (review and notes*) (*except "Favourite bit")

This page was last updated on: 29 October 2015