Series: Charley Chase

Director: Warren Doane
Producer: Hal Roach
Story Editor: H.M. Walker
Photography: Art Lloyd
Editor: Richard Currier
Sound: Elmer Raguse

Stars: Charley Chase, Thelma Todd, Anita Garvin, Edgar Kennedy
Company: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Released: 02 November 1929
Length: 2 reels
Production No.: C-25
Filming dates: July 16-22, 1929
Rating: 5/10

Stepping Out

Available on DVD:

Charley is at home with his wife (THELMA TODD) reminiscing about how much he misses the life he had before they were married, five years ago. When Thelma surprises him by suggesting that Charley ought to go out he gets up and takes her pulse! Thelma insists that she is fine with Charley going out and further encourages him to do so. Charley is suspicious but he accepts his wife's offer and immediately goes to get his tuxedo out of the closet before heading off to the nightclub. When he arrives Charley tries hard to make an impression, beginning by offering the manager (EDGAR KENNEDY) a cigarette and then going on to introduce himself to the patrons. When Charley flashes a badge on his jacket everybody quickly disposes of their liquor because they think he is a cop. The manager forces Charley to aplogize to his customers and when he reveals he is not a cop they all quickly retrieve their bottles from the dancefloor. After order is restored Charley asks for a table but the manager tells him that a new law says he has to be with a woman so Charley leaves.
As he walks home Charley sees a young lady (ANITA GARVIN) in a salon and stops to make eyes with her. She comes outside and the two of them flirt. Charley asks if she would like to go for a dance and Anita agrees. As they get to the nightclub Anita tells Charley that she has a jealous boyfriend who likes to beat up any man whom he catches her with. Charley quickly ushers her inside. Anita orders oysters, along with half the menu as Charley sits with exasperation over her rude and greedy behaviour. They get up to dance where Anita is a bit over friendly with everybody on the dance floor much to Charley's sudden embarrassment.
Anita's behaviour worsens when they sit down as she begins throwing food across the room and hitting the other guests (I'm pretty sure the recipient is the same guy with the flowers whom Charley keeps bumping into in Leaping Love). Charley has to apologize to the man on Anita's behalf but even though he accepts the apology Anita continues to misbehave. Eventually the guest smashes a jug over Charley's head to show his annoyance. Anita excuses herself and a man called Clarence comes over to Charley's table looking around. Charley suspects he is Mickey - Anita's boyfriend, but it turns out to be a random customer. The head waiter (PAT HARMON) gives Charley a drink to "fix him up" and Charley ends up getting sleepy and emotional. When Anita returns he confesses he left his wife at home and of his regret at having met Anita, who then walks out on him.
A crying Charley takes refuge at a nearby table and begins telling the guests of his woes. When Charley asks the guests what they would do if they were in his shoes one of the gentlemen suggests he goes and sings a song. So Charley gets up on the dancefloor and begins singing ("My Wild Irish Rose") - at the exact moment his wife turns on the radio to hear a live broadcast from the nightclub (what were the odds, seriously?!) Charley slurs his words through hic-cups and being in a general state of being drunk. When one of the dancers bumps into Charley he falls onto the stage and crashes into the orchestra. When he finally gets up on his feet he announces he is going home and everybody applauds the decision. The next morning over breakfast Thelma asks is he had a nice time and Charley tries to play it down. She gets up and leaves, whilst reciting the drunken song Charley was singing. When Charley understands the reference he takes out his anger on the radio by destroying it with his feet.

Favourite bit
It has to be the scene where Anita Garvin orders half the menu and the reactions Charley makes in response to her.

Copyrighted September 23, 1929.
The film made its debut on DVD, albeit missing its original soundtrack, in October 2022 thanks to Kit Parker.
The moth-proof garment bag that Charley gets out of his closet is from I.C. Jones, Inc. in St. Louis, Missouri.
There is a badge on the inside of Charley's tuxedo that says Chicken Inspector, badge 23.
This was the first Hal Roach film to feature both Thelma Todd and Anita Garvin together.
This was the second Hal Roach film to be called "Stepping Out". The first was a Dippy Doo Dads film from 1923.
Charley's home address is 7522 North Sycamore.
My opinion
It's an okay film I guess but it seems to be lacking in terms of pace. Anita Garvin is the stand out performance here with her bizarre character and general fun-girl image. Charley and Thelma continue to work well in their scenes though their screen time together is very limited. It's not a great film but I have seen a lot worse. About average.

Charley Chase
Thelma Todd
Charley's wife
Anita Garvin
Charley's date
Edgar Kennedy
Nightclub manager
Pat Harmon
Head waiter
Baldwin Cooke
Charles Sullivan
Clara Guiol
Nightclub patron


CREDITS (click image to enlarge)

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Smile When The Raindrops Fall by Brian Anthony & Andy Edmonds (book)
Peter Mikkelsen (poster)
Jesse Brisson (identification of Charles Sullivan)
Kit Parker (for getting the film released on DVD)

This page was last updated on: 07 October 2022