Series: All Stars

Director: Richard Wallace, Stan Laurel
Producer: Hal Roach
Titles: H.M. Walker
Photography: Len Powers
Editor: Richard C. Currier

Stars: Ethel Clayton, James Finlayson
Company: Pathé Exchange
Released: 01 August 1926
Length: 2 reels
Production No.: S-10
Filming dates: February 19 - March 9, 1926
Rating: 4/10

The Merry Widower

Available on DVD:

Rudy (Tyler Brooke) is a 'He Flirt' who jumps on the opportunity to woo a lonely, middle-aged housewife (Ethel Clayton) who lives next door. When he sees her through an open window he does his best to impress her by putting on a gramophone record whilst miming the tune with his violin. She is delighted with his apparent musical skills but she warns him that she is married and cannot entertain his flirting before dropping her curtain. The woman's husband Julius (James Finlayson), a hunter, returns home to discover his smoking pipe on the floor. When he bends down to examine it, Rudy takes aim with his bow and arrow from across the way and fires right into Julius's rear. Attached to the arrow is a love note intended for his wife, notifying her that she is soon to expect a visit from her admirer.
Julius arms himself with a shotgun and hides himself away in the base of a clock whilst observing his wife with her new apparent love. When she rejects his advances, he pulls out a gun and threates to end it all, in over-the-top spectacular fashion. The gun accidentally discharges several bullets, as they fire all over the place, including through the clock where the husband is hiding. Panic ensues as everybody in the building evacuates their rooms, and Finlayson comes jumping out of his hiding place on fire. A crowd of people have gathered in the lobby to witness the spectacle and Fin asks their advice. He soon wishes he didn't, when they turn on him; telling him to go jump off the dock. Julius heads for the docks to contemplate suicide. There he finds as man who kicks Julius before jumping into the sea himself!
Julius is then drowning his sorrows in a bar when a hobo (Charley Chase) decides to wake him up by shoving an oyster down his throat. Charley tells Julius that it was a mouse he swallowed, and a panicking Julius asks for help ("give me a piece of cheese ~~ or a mousetrap!") News of Julius's apparent demise reaches his wife, who telephones Rudy to tell him the "good" news but wants to know where the bosy is. But of course Julius isn't dead yet and is seen on the street having an altercation with a horse before he is approached by a fake-beared fortune teller named Mahatma the Magnificent (Jerry Mandy) who gives Julius his card, which has Julius's address on the reverse of it. Julius overpowers the fortune teller in a horse-drawn taxi, dons his costume and heads off to his own home.
Julius - dressed as the expected fortune teller shows up at his wife's home to find his wife and Rudy waiting. He begins predicting her future with the assistance of a magic ball. He makes himself appear in the ball and convinces the two of them to assist him in finding the husband's body. Julius leads them to the cart and drives off. Along the journey Julius appears at the carriage windows and his wife thinks she is seeing his ghost. They ride into a cemetery and dump the fortune teller out onto the ground before Julius is bumped out into the air and into a vat of whitewash (that just happened to be there!) Now covered in white - and being in a cemetery at night... you can guess the rest. Julius runs around trying to catch his wife's attention until their carriage crashes. They reunite until a ridiculously tall man appears to escort them off the premises.

Favourite bit
Right at the very end... I mean just how tall IS that guy anyway?!

Copyrighted July 26, 1926.
Originally written as production C-9 with Clyde Cook in the lead, but as of February 18th it became an All Star comedy.
This film was released by Alpha Video in October 2014. The print derives from the personal collection of film-maker John Carpenter. The transfer was done by Tommy José Stathes.
The first record that Tyler Brooke puts on is called "A Cup Of Coffee, A Doughnut And You" (a violin solo by Mischa Harbaugh).
James Finlayson finds a smoking pipe lying on the floor when he first enters his house. It is the same pipe as seen in the photograph of him shortly before that scene.
The love note on the arrow reads, "Dear Lonely One, I am coming right over. My heart goes out to one so beautiful, and so neglected. Rudy. PS. How can you stand that goat-faced husband of yours?"
The oyster bar is called "The Forty Thieves", according to an intertitle card. Charley Chase has a brief scene as the man who tormets James Finlayson with the oyster.
From other sources the following actors are listed as being in the film: Jack Ackroyd and Sammy Brooks and Helen Gilmore. I wasn't able to find any of them, so these credits should be treated with caution.

My opinion
"Absolutely ludicrous from start to finish. Honestly, I don't know where to start when thinking of how to rate this one!"

Ethel Clayton
The hunter's wife
James Finlayson
Tyler Brooke
Jerry Mandy
Charley Chase
Hobo in oyster bar
Charlie Hall
Man in the crowd
Evelyn Burns
Crowd extra
Charles Lloyd
Apartment tenant
Ham Kinsey
Oyster bar clerk
Lyle Tayo
Crowd extra
Hope Harper
Crowd extra
Milton Fahrney
Crowd extra
Chet Brandenburg
Stunt double


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

(click any image to enlarge)

(click any image to enlarge)

(click any image to enlarge)

(click any image to enlarge)

(click image to enlarge)

John Carpenter/Alpha Video
Jorge Finkielman (removing watermarks from title card; lobby card)
Rob Stone (information, including shooting dates)
Craig Calman (identification of Evelyn Burns, Lyle Tayo)
Jesse Brisson (identification of Hope Harper, Chet Brandenburg, Milton Fahrney)

This page was last updated on: 01 August 2023