Series: Charley Chase

Director: Warren H. Doane
Producer: Hal Roach
Story: Leo McCarey
Photography: Len Powers
Editor: Richard C. Currier
Sound: Elmer Raguse

Stars: Charley Chase, Nena Quartero, Gale Henry
Company: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Released: 25 May 1929
Length: 2 reels
Production No.: C-21
Filming dates: April 8-13, 1929
Rating: 6/10

The Big Squawk

Available on DVD:

Charley is a musician at the Lake Merritt Country Club. Conducted by Edgar Kennedy, Charley and two other men play saxophone whilst courting couples dance but Charley is distracted by Mary (NENA QUARTERO), the woman he loves who is deliberately dancing with another man in order to make Charley jealous. A young man and woman talk as Charley continuously plays wrong notes on his instrument in frustration. When Charley can't stand it any longer he goes to confront Mary but she just continues to rub the new man in Charley's face. After Charley takes out his anger on a flowerpot, his best friend Joe (JAY EATON) comes over and suggests to Charley they he should give Mary a taste of her own medicine by making her jealous. So Joe sets up Charley and tells him to travel to Joe's cabin on the lake and pretend he has a girl with him, and then Joe will bring Mary along with him later. Charley reluctantly agrees to the scheme.
Charley drives his car in the pouring rain (and on a carousel sound stage but we're not supposed to know that) whilst his roof keeps blowing off in a storm which leaves him soaked. Meanwhile, a group of six stranded ladies have rowed across the lake in a small canoe and are also soaking wet. They spot the cabin home and take refuge inside. They enter it, make themselves at home, light a fire, get undressed (at this point the film picked up and cemented my attention!) and then go to bed for the night (all apparently knowing exactly where the bedrooms are?) Charley arrives in his drenched car moments later, minus his roof. He enters the cabin and starts taking off his wet clothes but struggles to take off his tie.
Joe and Mary make their way to the cabin with Joe winding her up about Charley's many affairs, whilst Charley gets out of his wet clothes and into a dressing gown. One of the women (GALE HENRY in a state of undress, dear god) comes downstairs and notices the front door slightly open so she slams it shut. This is the signal Charley was told to expect from Joe as to his arrival and so Charley goes to the door and begins having a mock conversation with an imaginary woman, believing that Mary is on the other side of the door listening to it. Gale Henry hears him and stands on the other side of the door, starting to get a bit milky with what she is hearing but when Charley starts getting rude she quickly gets angry with him. Charley opens the door and she clonks him with a bottle before they both run off!
Charley takes refuge in the upstairs bathroom just as one of the girls walks in and starts running a shower. As Charley hides behind the shower curtain his feet start to get wet and hot from the water and steam and he has to jump out just as the woman walks out of the room momentarily. He runs into a bedroom and hides under the covers of the bed but he is quickly discovered by two of the women. Charley runs out but bumps into another woman and again has to make his escape. He wakes up three more sleeping beauties who are sharing a bed together before he runs into Gale Henry again. She disrobes him and Charley is forced to get re-dressed in the only clothing available - the woman's. Just as he is about to make his escape Joe and Mary arrive to confront Charley. Mary sees the "woman" and blames her for stealing her Charley so Charley plays along. But when she grabs a shotgun and tries to blow his brains out Charley shows himself and reveals the entire plot. After he tells her there are no other women there, six of them suddenly creep out of the room - all in a state of undress. Mary hits Charley so hard it loosens the tie around his neck he was having trouble with undoing earlier!

Favourite bit
The final scene after Charley tells Mary that he doesn't have a girl there in the cabin with him.... and then six of them all run out of the door, with Gale Henry on tip-toes!

Copyrighted July 29, 1929.
The opening scene takes place on Wednesday August 24th. A quick check back through the real-life calendar shows that this date would have been accurate for 1927, though the film was shot in April 1929.
The scenes showing the cabin were filmed on the same set as another Chase film, What Women Did For Me (1927).
When the six ladies run to the cabin after getting out of their canoe, the lady on the left (Eleanor Fredericks, wearing the black top) reaches the porch first but in the next cut of the film she hasn't yet made it to the porch. A small continuity error.
My opinion
Well there's no shortage of seeing young women in a state of undress here! The audio often doesn't match up with the dialogue due to the way the sound discs were synched with the film but that is a minor distraction. All in all it's a fairly average comedy with a few laughs, the best being Charley's agitation when playing the saxophone in the early scenes, but it's a standard Chase film. It would be easy to get excited over seeing this film after it had been out of circulation and public viewing for almost 90 years but facts are facts - it's really an "okay" film but nothing more.

Charley Chase
Nena Quartero
Gale Henry
Stranded lady
Edgar Kennedy
Orchestra leader
Dolores Brinkman
Nightclub patron
Jay Eaton
Eleanor Fredericks
Stranded woman
Iris Nicholson
Stranded woman


CREDITS (click image to enlarge)

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Smile When The Raindrops Fall by Brian Anthony & Andy Edmonds
Jesse Brisson (identification of Dolores Brinkman, Eleanor Fredericks, Iris Nicholson)
Stan Taffel (poster)
Peter Mikkelsen (still)
Kit Parker (getting the film released on DVD)

This page was last updated on: 03 October 2022