Series: Charley Chase

Director: James Parrott
Producer: Hal Roach
Titles: H.M. Walker
Photography: Len Powers
Editor: Richard C. Currier

Stars: Charley Chase, Edna Marion, Hazel, Howell, Frank Leigh, Tom Dugan
Company: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Released: 29 October 1927
Length: 2 reels
Production No.: C-3
Filming dates: August 12-22, 1927
Rating: 6/10

The Way Of All Pants


From the existing footage available this is what I can determine:

Charley is a salesman and is in an office trying to sell some trousers.  As he goes to leave, a woman follows him into the reception and starts feeling Charley up.  Her husband (the manager of the office) opens his door to witness her unexplained behaviour (she is 'measuring' Charley up with the intention of buying a suit for her husband), but it's too much for him to stand when Charley responds by rubbing his foot up against the woman's leg.  Charley is chased out of the office.
Outside on the street, Charley tells his girlfriend (Edna Marion) that he has to deliver some breeches and that he will be back by 8 o'clock.  The next shot has Charley travelling in a car with Ellinor Vanderveer and others.  Charley arrives at the house where he is greeted by the hostess.  His hat is taken by the butler (Al Hallett) and Charley is taken upstairs.  She asks him to try on the trousers he has brought with him to sell to her, so Charley oliges by getting undressed behind a screen.
The lady's husband (the office manager from earlier) pulls up in his car and sees Charley through the upstairs window of the house in a state of undress and naturally asumes the worst.  The husband engages a nearby detective and asks for his help in the removal of Charley from his house.
As guests begin to arrive at the lady's house, she spots her husband among them and quickly tells Charley to get out of the house the best way he can.  Cue dog, who sees - and then goes for Charley, ripping off one of the legs from the trousers.  The detective (complete with large magnifying glass) lets himself into the house and begins his sleuthing.
Meanwhile Charley sneaks up behind a curtain where the detective is standing, reaches around and removes the detective's belt from around his waist without him realising.  When the detective walks off, he has no trousers on.  Worse, Charley then catches the trousers in a closing door, rendering them useless for himself to wear  Then comes the battle for the pants...
Charley finds an ally in the butler, who throws the now-rescued trousers to Charley but they are intercepted by the detective who grabs them and puts them back on.  As he continues his search, looking under a chair, Charley is less subtle in removing them once again from his legs - he just yanks them off!!!  Unfortunately for Charley, the dog has other ideas and once again takes them from him.  Charley is then stuck under the table, sans pants as the guests begin to filter into the room and are seated at the table.  Charles reaches over to stroke the dog, only to find he is stroking a female guests' leg.
DVD screencapture - Lord Heath - Laurel & Hardy - Another Nice Mess - She thinks the affection is coming from the guy seated next to her before she deliberately tips her drink on the floor, under the table.  Charley sees another opportunity to grab another pair of trousers when the butler gets a little too close to the table; yanking them from him (again, without the owner realising?) and pulling them under the table.
The embarrassed butler is seen without his trousers by the host, as Charley puts them on within the cramped confines of under the table.  Only problem is he does it backwards!  He manages to escape from under the table but is seen when he pulls off the tablecloth and is confronted by the host, who grabs a shotgun.
The guests quickly leave when they see the detective appear without his trousers as Charley is chased upstairs by the host.  Charley makes his exit via the bedroom window and along a set of phone wires.  The host takes aim and fires and Charley falls from the wires, landing safely (and conveniently) on the open top deck of a passing bus.
The detective grabs his pants from the couple at the house and leaves.  Charley grabs a passenger's jersey which is on the seat in front of him before the bus pulls up in town to his awaiting girlfriend.  The detective happens to walk by wearing the wrong pants, tips his hat and moves on.  Charley then emerges from behind a postbox to reveal he is wearing the bus passenger's jersey as a pair of pants.

Favourite bit
Having not had the benefit of seeing the complete film it is difficult to assess which part of it is my favourite.  However, based on the footage I have seen I would nominate this scene as the one that stands out.
I have a lot of criticism for it (see "Did you notice?") but at the same time it is memorable for the reasons stated below.

Copyrighted October 17, 1927.
The full film does exist but only half of it is available for home viewing on DVD. A sequence from the film is included in Laurel And Hardy's Laughing Twenties (1965).
The film is known as The Way Of All Dress in the UK.
The opening credits on the DVD are lifted directly from Crazy Like A Fox and are inaccurate.
In November 2015, I was given a copy of the film which includes a further 36 seconds of footage which continues from where the DVD stops.  This extra piece of film is described in the notes above [last paragraph].
The name of the office manager/party host is Mr. Jones.  His name is seen on the door of his office.
Clara Guiol shows up as one of the girls in the office in the opening scene.
When Charley is talking with Edna Marion outside the building, they are next to the Hotel Hunt.
The dog's name is Buster.
When Charley removes the detective's trousers by undoing his belt, he would have had to relieve the pressure on the man's waist which was applied by the belt being loosened.  Then, Charley would have had to have taken both legs of the trousers down and got the man to step out of each leg - whilst wearing shoes.  Does it not strike the viewer as a bit odd that the detective did not notice that somebody had their hands around his waist, had loosened his belt, had taken down his trousers, made his legs cold, and somehow manages to remove each leg of the pants from underneath each shoe, all whilst the man was standing still?  I mean, you cannot take a pair of trousers off unless you physically step out from them, i.e. lifting each leg up from off the ground?  That is one stupid detective!
I think it is highly improbable that Charley could catch the leg of the trousers in the doorway, given that the door was closing away from him at the time and the trouser leg was somehow in mid-air at the time!  Possible yes, but very unlikely.  It's a simple matter of logistics.
When the butler throws the trousers to Charley (when the detective catches them in mid-air), he goes to all the trouble of stretching, rolling them up and then aiming his throw towards Charley.  Given that he was standing only twelve feet away, why wouldn't you just walk over to him?  I realise this was setting up a gag for the trousers to be intercepted in mid-air by the detective, but in real-life this just doesn't make any sense at all!
Edna Marion wears her watch on her right wrist.

What the experts say
"From the footage available for review, this looks like a proper good comedy." ~ Lord Heath.

Charley Chase
Edna Marion
Charley's girlfriend
Hazel Howell
Mrs. Jones, hostess
Frank Leigh
Mr. Jones, the boss
Tom Dugan
Ellinor Vanderveer
Clara Guiol
Office worker
Al Hallett
Eric Mayne
Dorothy Coburn
Elmo Billings
Charles Lloyd


(click any image to enlarge)


Smile When The Raindrops Fall by Brian Anthony & Andy Edmonds (book)
Tommie Hicks (extra footage)
John Carpenter (stills)
Steve Massa (identification of Eric Mayne and Ton Dugan)

This page was last updated on: 29 October 2019