Series: Charley Chase

Director: Leo McCarey
Producer: Hal Roach
Titles: H.M. Walker

Stars: Charley Chase, Martha Sleeper, William Gillespie, Sammy Brooks
Company: Pathé Exchange
Released: 04 January 1925
Length: 1 reel
Production No.: D-76
Filming dates: October 14-19, 1924
Rating: 5/10

The Rat's Knuckles

Available on DVD:

Jimmy Jump (Charley Chase) is the inventor of a perfect mouse-trap. His sweetheart, 'Flirty' McFickle (Martha Sleeper) works in a diner where she serves Jim's rival (William Gillespie) coffee. Jimmy makes his way to the diner, assisting a couple of piano movers along the way by offering them advice on how to get the piano safely off their truck and down onto the sidewalk safely. However, the piano falls through an unseen trapdoor in the sidewalk and Jimmy quickly runs off! Jimmy arrives at the diner and tells his girl that once his mouse trap invention gets off the ground they will have millions of dollars. Together they envision their future through a dream sequence; living in a big mansion, wearing fine clothes and being photographed by the press. They have completely turned into snobs and Jimmy is mean to everybody. They are driven off down the street by their chauffeaur and see Prince Edward of England sitting in his car.
Back in the present and Jimmy makes his way downtown to try and sell his invention to an investor, avoiding the piano movers he encountered earlier and a blind man begging for money. Jimmy starts rambling on to the investor (Jules Mendel) about how wonderful his rat trap invention is and how it is going to revolutionize the rat and mouse industry as the bored man sits there impatiently listening. Jimmy waffles on for so long he doesn't notice that the investor has gone to lunch. Dejected, Jimmy leaves the building and tries to hand his invention to the blind man but not even he wants it! Jimmy's girlfriend gets off work and meets him outside the diner. She asks him if he sold his invention but when he says no she quickly runs off with the coffee-customer from earlier (wow, what a money-grabbing little gold digger she turned out to be!) That night Jimmy finds himself down by the docks at a place called "The River's Edge" where he contemplates suicide but just as he is about to jump into the water he is saved by a well-dressed man who claims to be a financier. Jimmy shows him his invention and gives a demonstration, which works successfully. When the mouse tries to take the cheese from the trap it triggers a jack-in-the-box doll which scares the creature into a matchbox-like casing and causes the mouse to feel ashamed. The guy considers the idea and decides Jimmy should have gone ahead with his original plan... and helps him on his way!

Favourite bit
The final scene where Jimmy's invention idea is fully revealed to a total stranger who then regrets talking him out of jumping into the water!

Copyrighted December 26, 1924.
The version of the film issued on the Becoming Charley Chase DVD is missing some footage, which includes Prince Edward of England. This version is a 35MM print restored by local film historian Joe Rinaudo and it was screened at the final meeting of the Sons of the Desert Early To Bed tent group in 2016 then at the Cinecon Film Festival in 2017. This sequence takes place at the end of the dream scene as Charley and Martha are driving off. Martha then says (by title card) “look - there’s the Prince”. Then we see Prince Edward onscreen who turns and smiles slightly followed by a title card where Charley says “morning Ed”. Apparently this sequence was deleted by the Roach studio editors as there was somewhat of an unwritten rule at that time that footage of the royal family would only be used in newsreels and such to avoid potential embarrassment to the royal family. There is also a sequence in the beginning of the film where Charley decides to help some guys unloading a truck, with disastrous results, that was also deleted from production prints. Don’t know why - in fact in the film there is a brief sequence where Charley comes upon the same guys again unloading their truck. He stops to help, then realizing who these guys are, quickly goes on his way. Without the earlier scenes that were cut this sequence really just falls flat. Apparently this particular print was a work print at the Roach studio and that’s why it didn’t get cut by the editors. It is believed Joe restored the print for the Library of Congress.
[1] After THIS SCENE at round 01:24 when Charley walks off camera we cut to William Gillespie at the bar in the diner smiling and Charley walking in in the background. But there is a whole sequence missing here which runs exactly 40 seconds. After Charley leaves the previous scene we stay on him as he walks down the street and sees a couple of piano movers struggling to unload a piano from their truck and offers to help them. There is this intertitle card before the guy in the truck lowers the piano down a ramp Charley has put against the side of the vehicle but the piano then falls into the hole in the ground. Jack Gavin (the piano mover on the sidewalk) expresses his fury and Charley runs off down the street. THEN we cut back to where the DVD picks up again in the diner with Gillespie at the bar and Charley walking in behind him. With the inclusion of this scene with the piano movers, it makes much more sense when Charley bumps into them again later on in the film.
[2] At around the 4 minutes mark on the DVD after THIS SCENE we cut to Charley and Martha in the diner holding hands at the bar. But the scene missing between these two points has Charley and Martha being driven off in their luxury car by their chauffeur. Along the way they see the Prince and with this intertitle card. Charley waves to the Prince and we see this intertitle card followed shortly by this intertitle card. This whole chunk of extra footage last 25 seconds.
In total, there are 4 intertitle cards missing from the DVD version and two scenes with a combined time of 65 seconds missing.
It's almost incredible to think that during the filming of this Martha Sleeper had only recently turned 14 years old.
In the scene where Martha Sleeper sees a rat on the floor and all the diners panic, I think Martin Wolfkiel can be seen at the counter.
Sammy Brooks plays the blind man and is also one of the diners in the cafe.
This was Clara Guiol's first film for Hal Roach. She can briefly be glimpsed as the waitress beind the counter in the cafe.
Martha Sleeper's character works at the Boulevard Cafe.
My opinion
Short and sweet comedy, not a whole lot of plot or character development but relatively satisfying none the less.

Charley Chase
Jimmy Jump
Martha Sleeper
'Flirty' McFickle
William Gillespie
Jimmy's rival
Sammy Brooks
Blind man/Diner
Jack Gavin
Piano mover
Dick Gilbert
Piano mover
Jules Mendel
Patent office clerk
Ed Porter
Helen Gilmore
Diner who stands on chair
Jack O'Brien
Clara Guiol
Andy Samuel
Boy with newspapers


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

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Bob Duncan (still and additional information)
Jesse Brisson (identification of Ed Porter)
Dave Glass (complete print of the film)
Matthew Lydick (identification of Andy Samuel)

This page was last updated on: 14 June 2020