Series: Charley Chase

Director: Charles Parrott
Producer: Jack White

Stars: Lloyd Hamilton, Bee Monson, Otto Fries, Charley Chase
Company: Educational Pictures (Mermaid Comedies)
Released: 21 November 1920
Length: 2 reels
Production No.:
Filming dates:
Rating: 5/10

April Fool

Available on DVD:

A group of ladies have raised money to send a brave missionary to the cannibals on the Cafetaria Islands. Ham (Lloyd Hamilton) is outside celebrating the 4th of July with an oversized firework which blows up and leaves the impression of his body on the garage door. Except it's actually April Fool's Day, according to his girlfriend (Bee Monson), who then takes him back indoors where he is further embarrassed by his mother who shows him off to all her lady friends. The missionary leaves for the boat but without the money needed to get on it, so Ham's mother sends Ham off with the money to deliver to him. When Ham reaches the docks a group of men play a prank on him with a purse attached to a string on the ground. As Ham and the men laugh off the prank together they decide to try the trick again on another unsuspecting passerby - none other than Charley Chase, who outsmarts them all before walking off with the purse.
Ham gives chase (no pun intended there) and doesn't see the thief drop the wallet through a hole in his trousers. He sees the wallet lying on the ground and then spends the next two minutes chasing it around a wall because he didn't realise it is attached to him with a piece of string. When he does eventually pick it up he loses his trousers! Dumb, but a clever routine. Meanwhile the missionary and his daughter arrive to board the boat but are prevented from doing so by the burly captain (Otto Fries) until Ham hands over the money to the missionary. Ham distracts a lifeguard into diving into the sea to retrieve a mannequin so that he can board the boat undetected but he is seen by the captain who then gives chase and then orders Ham to get to work.
Three sailors threaten mutiny against the captain if their demands for extra pay are not met. After a brief struggle the men jump overboard to escape a beating from the captain. Ham spends a whole minute trying unsuccessfuly to place a block of ice in a freezer and then another few minutes desperately trying to shave whilst the boat is rocking violently on the sea. After seriously pissing off the captain, Ham has to hide from him as the captain picks up the ship's anchor and chases him on deck with it. When a crew member calls for lunch, Ham and the captain postpone their fight and retire to the mess hall but it soon escalates after Ham serves the captain soap-filled tea.
The captain then orders Ham to catch him some fish for his lunch. As Ham waves the bait out of a porthole, each catch gets bigger and bigger. He then starts firing his gun at a rat, missing each time and piercing the wooden decking with the bullets causing the boat to slowly flood. The captain gets into a tussle with the girl but he quickly turns his attentions to dealing with the sinking ship on account of the now waist-high rising water level. It's every man for himself as the crew flee overboard (there's a great gag where a sailor sees a life ring with a sign above it which reads In Case Of Drowning Break Glass - so he breaks the glass and then jumps overboard!) Ham and the girl escape to the upper (dry) deck and conveniently find boxes of explosives. They lock themselves into the room as the captain tries to break down the door with an axe. Naturally, he sets off the explosion and blows up the ship. All that is left is a small platform with the wheel, the birdcage and our two heroes. How convenient.

Favourite bit
Lloyd Hamilton chasing a wallet attached to a string around an enclosure for two minutes.

Lloyd Hamilton film with Charley Chase in supporting role.
The crew mate with the moustache is Stan Laurel's brother, Teddy.
At least one website lists Thelma Percy as being in the film but doesn't state which character she plays. As Percy would have been around 17 years old at the time she could only have been the leading lady - which is actually Bee Monson. So I think this is a mistake and as such I have not included Thelma Percy in my listing.
In the scene where the captain orders a crate be lifted onto the ship from the dock, are we to believe the guy operating it and thus observing where to place the crate did not see Ham sitting on top of it?
When Ham is trying to shave on the boat, the cutaway shots of the ship on the sea are just laughable!
My opinion
To be fair, this isn't too bad.

Lloyd Hamilton
Bee Monson
The missionary's daughter
Otto Fries
Nasty Harold
(a.k.a. 'The Sea Lion')
Charley Chase
Thug who steals Ham's wallet
Teddy Jefferson
Crew member
Owen Evans
Don Maines


CREDITS (click image to enlarge)

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(used with permisison; click image to enlarge)

Acknowledgements: (still)
Smile When The Raindrops Fall by Brian Anthony & Andy Edmonds (book, pages 40-41)
Dave Wyatt & Dave Glass (effort)
Tommie Hicks (help; identification of Don Maines)
John Benson (help)
Jesse Brisson (identification of Owen Evans)

This page was last updated on: 07 June 2022