Series: Charley Chase

Director: James Parrott
Producer: Hal Roach
Dialogue: H.M. Walker
Photography: Art Lloyd
Editor: Richard C. Currier
Sound: Elmer Raguse

Stars: Charley Chase, Thelma Todd, Dorothy Granger, Kay Deslys, Carlton Griffin
Company: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Released: 21 March 1931
Length: 2 reels
Production No.: C-37E
Filming dates: November 20-28, 1930
Rating: 7/10

The Pip From Pittsburgh

Available on DVD:

See also La Señorita De Chicago

The film opens with Griff (Carlton Griffin) emerging through a trapdoor in the sidewalk to a waiting Dorothy (Granger) who tells him that her friend (Thelma Todd) from Pittsburg has just arrived and needs a partner to go to the dance with. Dorothy warns Griff that if her friend doesn't go then she won't either. Griff tells her he will get his flat-mate Charley to take her friend. Unfortunately, Charley isn't interested and reminds Griff that the last girl from Pittsburg that he took out on a date turned out to be a disaster. Dorothy phones Griff to confirm Charley will be going to the dance and Griff assures her that he is, despite Charley's protests. Charley and Thelma talk on the phone and he is deliberately rude to her.
Knowing that Charley isn't keen to go, Griff suggests that Charley wears an old suit and let Griff wear Charley's new suit instead. Charley agrees and decides not to shave, look his worst and eat garlic all in order to try and make the worst possible impression on the blind date. The girls get ready (a must see scene if you enjoy ample cleavage being displayed!) The boys arrive at the girls' apartment and Charley goes up to get them. Charley deliberately avoids looking at Thelma but when he finally he does he ends up falling through a door and into a bathroom where a woman (Clara Guiol) is taking a bath! The car ride to the nightclub is awkward with Charley conscious of his deliberate bad breath and trying not to breathe on Thelma. When they arrive Charley argues with Griff and accuses him of setting him up by not telling him that the blind date was so attractive, whilst Dorothy questions why Charley looks so shabby, as it is not usually his style.
Charley sees a woman buying a scented spray from a 10 cents machine and so decides to use it for himself, except that the spray keeps squirting him in the face instead of in the mouth. He gets it right on the fourth attempt. Now he is in need of a shave and manages to distract a patron (Baldwin Cooke) into reading a newspaper aloud to him whilst Charley steals some shaving accessories on the counter to shave with whilst using the back of a gentleman's jacket as a mirror to see himself with. At this point he is surprised by his former date, the "Pip from Pittsburg", Kay (Deslys) who asks Charley for a dance. An auction for a bunch of luncheons which have been submitted by the ladies is about to commence and he tells her if she can identify the one from Thelma then he will grant her wish.
As the auction is in full swing, Kay signals to Charley the luncheon from Thelma, so Charley bids for it only to discover that it is in fact Kay's all along. The dance begins and Charley hooks up with Thelma whilst still trying to relieve Griff of his suit. One of the band members keeps turning off the lights during which Charley makes several attempts to change into Griff's clothes, which results in them getting mixed up (at one point they even share the same trousers). This state of undress plays havoc with the other dancers, as Charley's braces attach themselves to others which ends up with other dancers getting whacked, clotheslined and punched in the face! In the last scene Charley puts too much money into gumball machine causing the small round balls to spill out all over the floor. Inevitably all the dancers fall over on them, with arms and legs flying up into the air as Charley and Thelma continue to dance around them all until they both fall over a small balcony and into a vat of whitewash.

Favourite bit
During the dance routine Charley's braces get caught on Kay Deslys and as they dance in opposite directions, they suddenly get catapulted towards one another, sending a dancing couple (Ed Brandenburg) stumbling in the middle. Great timing.

Copyrighted February 2, 1931.
This was the tenth film that Charley Chase and Thelma Todd appeared in together.
Also filmed in Spanish as La Señorita De Chicago.
A trapdoor in the middle of a sidewalk? The PC-brigade and health & safety establishment would be all over that nowadays!
The title of the film refers to Thelma Todd's character. Griff calls her "a pip" and tells Charley she is from Pittsburg. Also, it is a reference to Kay Deslys's character, whom Charley actually calls her "the pip from Pittsburg" later in the film.
Charley reminds Griff of the last girl from Pittsburg he took out on a date and produces a signed photograph of her. The lady is Kay Deslys and the inscription reads, "To Charley, Lest you forget your little girl friend. Katie."

Charley's phone number is Hempstead 9581.
When we first see Thelma Todd she is in a state of undress. Now there's a surprise, I say sarcastically.
The battle of the cleavage between Dorothy Granger and Thelma Todd is simply eye- and mouth-watering for all film perverts.
Notice how when the group are in the car driving to the nightclub how Thelma sits much higher than Dorothy and slightly sideways so that her cleavage (if that's what you call it) can be seen. Very deliberate.
According to the auctioneer, Charley is wearing a red neck tie.
When the gumballs spill out all over the floor the first casualty is a woman who falls over. This is clearly a man dressed up doing the stunt.
In the final scene that is neither Charley nor Thelma who fall over the balcony into that whitewash but rather, stunt doubles. And by the looks of the wall they weren't the first to do it either.
My opinion
Comedy and cleavage shoved into a very enjoyable twenty minutes, with Dorothy Granger outshining Thelma Todd in just about every scene.

Charley Chase
Thelma Todd
Dorothy Granger
Kay Deslys
Carlton Griffin
Clara Guiol
Woman in bathtub
Venice Lloyd
Nightclub patron
Harry Bernard
Cigar stand clerk
Baldwin Cooke
Newspaper reader
Charles Dorety
Charlie Hall
Kay's dancing partner
Ed Brandenburg
Nightclub patron
Chet Brandenburg
Nightclub patron
Frank Holliday
Nightclub patron
Jack Hill
Nightclub patron
William J. O'Brien
Lyle Tayo
Nightclub patron
Bob Minford
Nightclub patron


CREDITS (click image to enlarge)

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The following 'cleavage' shots define the undeniable beauty of both actresses in the film.

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Smile When The Raindrops Fall by Brian Anthony & Andy Edmonds (book)
The Charley Chase Talkies 1929-1940 by James L. Neibaur (book)
Ed Watz, Stan Taffel (poster)
Randy Skretvedt (identification of Venice Lloyd; confirmation of William J. O'Brien)
Steve Wright (identification + screenshot of Lyle Tayo)

This page was last updated on: 21 March 2023