Series: Charley Chase

Director: Charley Chase
Producer: Hal Roach
Dialogue: H.M. Walker
Photography: Hap Depew
Editor: William Terhune
Sound: James Greene

Stars: Charley Chase, Muriel Evans, Carlton Griffin
Company: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Released: 18 March 1933
Length: 2 reels
Production No.: C-14
Filming dates: December 5-10, 1932
Rating: 6/10

Nature In The Wrong

Available on DVD:

A nervous Charley is visiting his girlfriend Muriel at her home and trying to explain to her mother that he would make a good husband for her daughter. The snotty mother tells Charley that due to family tradition any potential husband should have blue blood and rejects his proposals. Charley's rival Ronnie (CARLTON GRIFFIN) is next to offer his interest in Muriel and is clearly mother's favourite choice. Muriel suggests to Charley that he could pay one dollar to a company in Texas who could trace his ancestry back several generations and give him the necessary information he requires to satisfy her mother. The devious Ronnie seizes an opportunity to fake a letter from the company which informs Charley that he is a descendant of Tarzan, the ape man. An organ grinder with a small monkey on the street just adds to Charley's paranoia.
Charley telephones Muriel to give her the bad news but she is fascinated and tells him that Tarzan was a romantic figure before she grabs a book on him and reads the entire thing over the phone. Muriel's mother appears and tells Muriel to get to bed but picks up the phone just in time to hear Charley declaring that from now on he is going to act like Tarzan. Mother doesn't realise Charley still thinks he is talking to Muriel and so deems the call to be a pervert before fainting! Later, Charley parks his car on a dirt road and gets out wearing an overcoat and leopardskin underneath. He sets about tieing a rope to a tree and beings practicing his swing. He glides gracefully over the wall of a nudist colony and is met with screams from several startled ladies below (unseen, unfortunately!!) One new hat later and Charley's swinging skills seem to have improved as he swings through the jungle against the pre-recorded backdrops of some elephants and a lion - which Charley has a conversation with.
Charley does his Tarzan gimmick and swings up to his treetop house where Muriel awaits him with their newborn baby. You just have to see Muriel in that costume. Oh my god. And waaaaaait just a minute.... things go from odd to just downright strange when Charley has an argument with a chimpanzee before we see a gorilla strolling through the jungle wearing a pair of shorts. Ooookay then... Charley and Muriel discuss inviting over the chimp's father to dinner but they need to get more food so Charley - now Tarzan - has to go out to get some more chops. He simply fires a pellet at an elephant instead. The gorilla, one Mr. Chadwick no less, arrives at the treehouse to collect Junior before sitting down to play the piano (how the hell did they get a piano up in a tree?) Charley goes out to milk a yak that has bells for teets. Mind you Charley does manage to get himself a coconut the hard way. Charley takes the coconut back to the house where he extracts the milk for the baby whilst Muriel attends to her pie. Let me rephrase that... oh never mind, too late now.
The gorilla and the chimp finish playing the piano as Charley shows off his new radio to the talking creature. A warning from the radio that "the Johnson's are coming" alerts Charley, Muriel and the gorilla to be prepared. Charley gives his humorous Tarzan call to the animals and they all start running away. Charley puts Muriel and the baby on a zebra and leave in a hurry. Unfortunately Charley's zebra kicks him off into a tree where Charley bangs his head and it is revealed to have all been a dream. Just then Ronnie shows up in his car with Muriel and the concerned Muriel runs over to arouse Charley (meaning she wakes him up!) from where he is lying on the ground. Muriel offers to make sure Charley gets home okay but Ronnie objects and tells her she is going home with him instead. Charley and Ronnie get into a shoving match which Charley wins, before being driven away by Muriel.

Favourite bit
Muriel's mother listening in on what she thinks is a dirty phone caller! Although to be fair Muriel's legs in the second half of the film do completely distract the viewer's attention from everything else on screen!

Copyrighted February 27, 1933.
Strangely, the opening credits do not give any director's credit. Records from the Hal Roach Stduios indicate the film was directed by Charley Chase in collaboration with Carl Harbaugh.
The working title was "Tarzan In The Wrong".
The voice of the lion was provided by James Finlayson.
Some sources list Charlie Hall as the organ grinder. ANM's Jesse Brisson is convinced it is actually Charles Lloyd.
Ronnie's hat plays a musical tune when hit, apparently?
The fake letter that Charley receives is dated November 1st, 1932.
Muriel reads the entire Tarzan book to Charley over the phone. I wonder how much the call cost to make?!
When Muriel is talking with Charley on the phone her mother appears and asks her "aren't you in bed yet?" I mean seriously, does that question really warrant a non-sarcastic response?
Charley has a chimpanzee he calls 'Junior'.
My opinion
Rather hard to accurately assess this one! It starts okay but by the time we reach the second half it gets weird. Muriel Evans in that costume is just worth the positive rating for the film. Charley does his best and has brief moments of his typcial self. Brief support from Nora Cecil and Carlton Griffin enhance the earlier scenes but it really does feel like two very different films. I applaud the desire to try something different and for the most part it works okay but the slow pace, especially in the second half doesn't do the film any favours. In the end it's a satisfactory outing for Charley; not one of his best and not one of his worst. Weak ending.

Charley Chase
Muriel Evans
Carlton Griffin
Nora Cecil
Muriel's mother
Charles Gemora
Mr. Chadwick, the gorilla
Mary Gordon
Mrs. Clancy
Murlen Powers
Baby in Tarzan fantasy sequence
Charles Lloyd
Organ grinder
Ham Kinsey
James Finlayson
Voice of lion
Cy Slocom
[possibly stunts (?)]
Jack Richardson
[voice of Mr. Chadwick (?)]


CREDITS (click image to enlarge)

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Smile When The Raindrops Fall by Brian Anthony & Andy Edmonds (book)
Richard Finegan (3 stills)
Lorenzo Tremarelli (information)
Jesse Brisson (information; identification of Charles Lloyd and Ham Kinsey)

This page was last updated on: 31 March 2022