Series: Charley Chase

Director: Warren Doane
Producer: Hal Roach
Story editor/Titles: H.M. Walker
Photography: George Stevens
Editor: Richard C. Currier
Sound: Elmer Raguse

Stars: Charley Chase, Thelma Todd, Anders Randolf
Company: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Released: 27 July 1929
Length: 2 reels
Production No.: C-23
Filming dates: May 25-30, 1929
Rating: 8/10

Snappy Sneezer

Available on DVD:

Getting off a train, Charley and Thelma are two strangers who have formed a friendship during their journey and plan to meet up later in the day at Thelma's house. She gives Charley her address, and after an extended amount of flirting between them they go their separate ways. Charley leaves with the seat of his trousers missing, thanks to a caged goat which he has stood a little too close to on the platform. After Charley leaves the station he boards a streetcar and suddenly begins an uncontrollable bout of sneezing, brought on by hay-fever. One of the passengers (Anders Randolf) takes objection to being sneezed upon by Charley and does his best to move down inside the carriage to avoid him but everywhere he goes Charley seems to follow him, sneezing all over him. The man reacts angrily by slowly destroying Charley's straw hat with each sneeze. Charley makes a quick exit from the moving vehicle, followed by Randolf in comical fashion, as he flies out onto a slippery road whilst the rest of the passengers break out in sneezing fits.
Charley offers to help the man brush down his wet suit, claiming "accidents will happen" but then quickly pushes him out of the way of an oncoming car and straight into a wet ditch by the side of the road! The man takes Charley's hat and punches a hole right through it. And just when you think it couldn't get any worse for the poor guy, Charley pushes him into a vat of whitewash to avoid being hit from above by a falling safe. Of course, Charley then hands the man his hat for complete destruction and runs off. We discover that Charley's unfortunate victim is Mr. White - the father of Thelma, the woman Charley met on the train. After Mr. White returns to his house to freshen up, Charley - with a new hat - arrives for Thelma moments later. After sneezeing on her he explains how he had to buy it after an encounter with "an old pelican" on the streetcar.
The new car arrives and an excited Thelma takes Charley outside to examine it. Mr. White has freshened up and comes outside to see his new car and meet his daughter's new boyfriend whom he instantly recognises! To keep the peace Thelma asks Charley to teach her father how to drive. After Mr. White attaches a rubber band across Charley's nose to prevent further sneezing, Charley sits in the back of the car with Thelma and instructs the father. Off they go in the car as the father drives along a deserted lane before coming upon a road-closed sign. Charley instructs Mr. White to make a hand signal but as he sticks his left hand out of the car his glove comes off and gets stuck in a horse's arse on the side of the road. Naturally Charley is told to retrieve it - somehow, so he gets out of the car and tries desperately to relieve the horse of the glove but each time Charley reaches to grab it, the animal flinches or puts up resistance.
Charley employs a number of distracting tactics with the horse, including whispering in its ear, sneaking up on it and even FLIRTING with it!! A ditch digger by the side of the road begins a food fight after Charley steps on his lunch. Charley finally coerces the horse to release the glove after he tickles its back. Unfortunately, the father has already instructed his daughter to drive off, leaving poor Charley behind. Thelma drives off and comes to a large rollercoaster circuit of endless ramps. Charley grabs a nearby motorcycle cop and tells him that the driver of the vehicle (Thelma) is inexperienced. He hops on the front of the bike and they follow the car as Thelma cries out for help. Eventually Charley gets close enough to jump off the front of the bike and grab the back of the car, bringing it safely to a stop. Charley receives a grateful handshake from the father, who asks what he can do to show his gratitude? Charley asks that the rubber band be taken off his nose. It is removed and promptly causes him to sneeze on the man! Charley doesn't care - he gets to kiss Thelma, finally!

Favourite bit
Just imagine the scenario. One minute you are minding your own business on a streetcar. And within the next few minutes a stranger comes along, sneezes all over you, destroys your newspaper, causes you to fall off the streetcar into a wet road, pushes you across the road causing you to land head first in a puddle before ending up in a vat of whitewash. It's a tremendous sequence with Anders Randolf being the sport and Charley dishing out the treatment. Priceless. Absolutely priceless.

Copyrighted August 12, 1929.
Some sources give a release date of July 29, 1929.
To date, this film has been the hardest one for me to acquire through personal friends and favours in reviewing it for the site.
There were two versions of the film originally released: a silent and a sound version. They are identical with the exception of the opening credits:

There are 63 intertitle cards in the silent version of the film.
A three minute segment from the film is shown in Laurel And Hardy's Laughing 20s.
Thelma gives her address as 22 Berkely Square. The exteriors used for her house were that of Hal Roach's actual home. Regarding the Roach home, the silent Our Gang One Terrible Day, Charley Chase's One Of The Family, and Stan Laurel's Mother’s Joy all show the front of 22 Berkeley Square. The silent Our Gang film Mary Queen Of Tots, and Chase's Crazy Like A Fox, were filmed on the front walkway leading to the home even though the home does not appear. This is not an exhaustive list, but the few I could quickly find. [John Bengston]
The opening scene shows a train pulling into Santa Fe Station. The number on the side of the train is 3727.
When Charley rides the streetcar there is an advert for a 1928 film called "Street Angel", which starred Janet Gaynor.
There are 15 intertitle cards within the first 3 minutes of the (silent version) film. That equates to one every 12 seconds.
Charley sneezes a total of 8 times during the film. 7 times on Anders Randolf and 1 time on Thelma Todd.
The car that Anders Randolf buys is apparently blue.
In the scene where Anders Randolf is making the telephone call in his house he must have rubbed against Thelma because you can see a white patch on her right breast which looks like it came from his whitewash-covered jacket.
When Anders Randolf lets his foot off the pedal in the car, the vehicle jolts forward so quickly that Charley and Thelma are flung backwards in the back seat. Thelma shows an awful lot of leg!
The horse's name is Milton.
The shots of the cars riding an elevated wooden rollercoaster were filmed at a recently-opened amusement park in Los Angeles.
My opinion
Definitely one of Charley Chase's best sound comedies of the era.

Charley Chase
Thelma Todd
(Mr. White's daughter)
Anders Randolf
Mr. White
Baldwin Cooke
Streetcar conductor
Harry Bowen
Streetcar passenger
Pete Gordon
Streetcar passenger
Jack O'Brien
Streetcar passenger
Sammy Brooks
Streetcar passenger
Charlie Hall
Streetcar passenger
Ham Kinsey
Streetcar passenger
Rolfe Sedan
Streetcar passenger
Hayes Robertson
Clara Guiol
Giggling woman at station
Eddie Dunn
Jack, the ditch digger
Buddy McNeal
Newspaper boy
Sam Lufkin
Car delivery man
Charles Lloyd
Goat owner


CREDITS (SOUND VERSION) (click image to enlarge) INTERTITLES (SILENT VERSION) (click image to enlarge)

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Smile When The Raindrops Fall by Brian Anthony & Andy Edmonds (book) (poster) (still)
Randy Skretvedt (lobby card)
Richard W. Bann (identification of Hayes Robertson; information)
Jesse Brisson (identification of Charles Lloyd, Pete Gordon, Jack O'Brien, Ham Kinsey, Rolfe Sedean)
John Bengtson (locations information; rollercoaster details)
Matthew Lydick & Drina Mohacsi (identification of Buddy McNeal)
Kit Parker (4 stills from DVD)
And a big thank you to the two gentlemen who helped me secure the two copies of the film for review.

This page was last updated on: 20 January 2023