Series: Charley Chase

Director: Leo McCarey
Producer: Hal Roach
Titles: H.M. Walker
Photography: Floyd Jackman

Stars: Charley Chase, Virginia Pearson, Martha Sleeper, Anders Randolf
Company: Pathé Exchange
Released: 09 May 1926
Length: 2 reels
Production No.: B-7
Filming dates: January 4-14, 1926
Rating: 7/10

Mum's The Word

Available on DVD:

Charley's mother (VIRGINIA PEARSON) has recently re-married but she has not bothered to tell her new husband about Charley. Charley is travelling on his way over by train when a nervous young girl (MARTHA SLEEPER), who is sleeping in a berth opposite him, falls victim to a failed robbery attempt. In her panic she pulls out a gun and fires aimlessly across the carriage, hitting Charley. He falls out of his bunk but is forgiving of the girl when he sees her lovely face. There is a comical moment when Charley tries to get back into his upper berth but ends up putting his foot into the face of a sleeping passenger (EVELYN BURNS). When Charley arrives at his mother's house she tells him that he will need to earn the respect of her new husband before she can introduce him as her son and so instead she tells her husband Charley is his new personal valet. Gilroy, the husband (ANDERS RANDOLF) gives the new valet his first assignment: to clean his shoes for him. Charley takes the shoes and finds young lady from the train in the kitchen, working at the house as the maid.
The maid offers to help clean the shoes by putting them on her feet but she is then summoned by Charley's mother and has to leave whilst wearing the shoes. Of course, at the same time Gilroy demands his shoes from Charley, who has to think quickly by taking off his own to hand over to him. Charley and the maid run upstairs so that Charley can put on the father's shoes after the maid takes them off which leads to a mission for Charley to get his own shoes back from the father and give him his own. Gilroy sits in his barber's chair and orders his valet to give him a shave. This gives the maid an opportunity to crawl around on the bathroom floor in an attempt to take Gilroy's shoes off from Charley's feet so that the switch can be made. This continues for a minute of so with the maid yanking Charley backwards and forwards whilst Charley holds a a razor blade in his hand whilst attempting to shave his master. [see favourite bit]
Charley's shaving of Gilroy doesn't quite go to plan when he manages to cut off half of his moustache. There is a look of disbelief and confusion when Gilroy sees himself in the mirror before he decides to remove the rest of it himself! Charley makes a quick exit outside and grabs a hose to water the grass despite the fact there are already a dozen sprinklers doing the job already. That night the suspicious Gilroy stalks Charley across the upstairs of the house. Charley finds this photo of him as a baby and shows it to his mum in her bedroom but when her husband hears their voices he storms in, causing Charley to nervously make his escape through the balcony window. He is caught out when Gilroy walks in front of the blinds, casting his reflection which doesn't match that of Charley on the other side (a good scene).
Despite her husband's warning that he will murder someone if he sees anything else suspicious, Charley's mother continues to reminisce with her son with momentos from his childhood. Poor Charley has to think fast again when the husband bashes on the bedroom door, so he quickly conceals his mother in a blanket and uses her as a chair. Gilroy eventually leaves (with Charley's lighter) and then it's an odd couple of minutes of everybody (the master, the mother, Charley and the maid) all creeping around on the landing trying to avoid one another. When the maid twigs that Charley is the woman's son she goes to tell the husband (I think?) Charley hides in the husband's bed because he thinks the maid is messing about with the husband but when the man gets into the bed Charley jumps up and runs out in shock. His mother sees the maid going into her husband's bedroom and confronts them together. Gilroy reveals that the maid is actually his daughter. Finally, Charley's mother also makes her own confession that the valet Charley is her son. Realising there is no longer a need for his gun, the husband fires one shot off... and hits Charley who has been hiding in a trunk.

Favourite bit
Martha Sleeper trying to get Charley's shoe off whilst he is trying to shave his master. That razor blade doesn't look at all safe!

Copyrighted March 29, 1926.
The film was recently preserved by the Library Of Congress.
Some issues of the film on DVD have recreated intertitle cards which differ very slightly from the originals. I have posted the original cards on this page at the bottom, which were taken from the Image Entertainment DVD from 2007.
Martha Sleeper is almost robbed by somebody on the train. But how stupid is it to try and do this because the robber is on a moving train. He can't get off and so could easily be found and identified if she had pursued him with help.
The framed photo Charley's mother keeps is signed "To my sweet mama from Charlie". Interesting that he spells his name as Charlie as opposed to Charley.
The maid is seen standing with her feet pointing in opposite directions. Seriously, who stands like this?
Martha Sleeper was 15 years old at the time of filming.

My opinion
Charley Chase was able to stretch his legs much more in his two-reelers and allow time to build the story. This is a decent enough story and has a very good running theme with the two pairs of shoes that need to be returned to their respectful owners. There is a slightly sinister feel to the story, particular in the second half of the film where the suspicious husband is seen to be controlling and dominant over his wife, showing her fear of his obvious authority. I didn't care much for that. But this was the 1920s when the world was.... well, different! But the twist ending is worth waiting for. Probably.

Charley Chase
Virginia Pearson
Martha Sleeper
Anders Randolf
Gilroy, husband
Clara Guiol
Train passenger
Evelyn Burns
Sleeping woman on train
Jack O'Brien
Baggage man
Harry Bowen
Train thief
Hope Harper
Train passenger

CREDITS (click image to enlarge) INTERTITLES (click image to enlarge)

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Smile When The Raindrops Fall by Brian Anthony & Andy Edmonds (book)
Ed Watz (lobby cards)
Jorge Finkielman (glass slide)
Craig Calman (identification of Evelyn Burns)
Jesse Brisson (identification of Harry Bowen, Hope Harper)

This page was last updated on: 20 July 2023