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, Peggy Howard, James Finlayson
Company: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Released: 23 May 1931
Length: 3 reels
Production No.: C-39
Filming dates: February 18 - March 2, 1931
Rating: 5/10

One Of The Smiths

Available on DVD:

Tubas and trombones are being sold in the region, but customers are making the first payment and then not making any more. The company who manufacture the instruments send Charley by train to collect the due money from the people who owe. As he attempts to board, the porter informs Charley that his luggage is too big to fit on the train.  Charley declares that the items (which include a large tuba) must not leave his sight. He calculates where his sleeping berth will be and knocks on the window next to his from the outside. A sleepy passenger (LYLE TAYO) opens the window, and Charley asks her if he can pass his tuba to her through the window and collect it from her in the aisle when he boards the train. She takes the instrument in through the window but then promptly falls asleep again.
On the train, Charley calls out to the lady to pass the tuba through the curtain to him in the passageway, but he has the wrong woman. An argument ensues before Charley realises he has made a mistake:
There is a very risque scene with Charley Chase and Louise Carver as he tries to get his tuba from her. He stands in the aisle whilst she is behind the curtain, where he cannot see her:
Charley: "Can I have my horn please?"
Woman behind curtain: "What horn?"
Charley: "Why, the horn I just gave you, lady"
Woman behind curtain: "You didn't give me any horn."
Charley does finally find his berth and after loading all of his bags into the confined space, he manages to get his foot stuck in the tuba!  As Charley sleeps, his mouth makes contact with the large instrument and he unwittingly begins to blow it.  The alarming sound wakes everybody up and the train is brought to a halt as the conductor investigates.  The passengers complain and Charley is ejected with his tuba.
A passing woman on a horse inadvertently comes to his rescue and takes him to a den where men smoke pipes, dance and play music.  She tells the crowd that he is the son of respected man around those parts, but a group of rough-looking guys are suspicious of Charley and ask him to play a song to prove his singing voice.  The highlight of the film is when a drunken onlooker (Harry Bowen) watches the performance, seeing four Charley's, singing as a quartet.
The angry mob chase Charley from the room, but he disguises himself with a wooden leg to avoid detection.  He escapes by jumping out of the window.  It's then he discovers where all the tubas have been going - a room full of them on the wall, being used to brew home made wine.
Charley and his female companion flee on horse and cart and catch up with the train, but when the conductor sees them he steams off ahead so that Charley cannot get on board.
Favourite bit
The entire train is brought to a standstill after Charley falls asleep with the mouth piece of his tuba stuck to his mouth. His breathing causes the loud blowing horn sound which wakes everybody up!

Copyrighted April 20, 1931.
The building in the background as seen through the window of the board room in the opening scene has the large lettering of Union Oil on it.
The featured song is "Handsome Jim".
Charley's berth on the train is at location "Upper 8, 3rd on the right".
Charley works for the Murdoch Company, manufacturers of musical instruments.
Lyle Tayo (the sleepy woman on the train) looks really cute when we first see her - especially that look she gives to the camera!
After Charley does his double-take on the train (when he sees Louise Carver), look at the porter's reaction behind him! His face says, "whoah, was that woman's face real?!"
After seeing Laurel and Hardy being squashed like sardines in their train berth in Berth Marks, I didn't think it was possible for anyone to be any more uncomfortable in the same setting. I was wrong! Charley has to share a berth with so many cases that he is literally pinned against the side of the wall!
At 7:46 - as Charley is struggling with the tuba in his berth, a sound is heard that is reminiscent of a ship's horn! It's a very funny moment. This is followed by a fantastic piece of comic timing when Chase removes his right shoe and ends up with his leg in the horn!
The number 3529 is on the side of the train.
A large map of South America hangs on the wall in the barn.
The dog is none other than Laughing Gravy.
The very last scene of the film shows Charley's carriage trying to fit through the narrow gap between the train track and the side of the building on the right. It looks as though it was a genuine accident as the wheels of the carriage get locked into the tracks as the picture fades out into the end titles.
My opinion
Standard Chase comedy, nothing special. The scenes on the train are the best, especially with Charley getting his foot stuck in the tuba before waking everybody up by breathing into it when he is sleeping. There is a cute gag later on when Charley is singing and we see four of him on screen at the same time. Clever. But a couple of highlights do not compensate for a relatively weak entry in the series.

Charley Chase
Charley Chase/
Zeb Smith Jr.
Peggy Howard
James Finlayson
Wine brewer
Louise Carver
Harrassed woman on train
Leo Willis
Leo Sulky
Harry Bowen
One-legged drunken onlooker
Eddie Baker
Dick Gilbert
Robert Milasch
Silas D. Wilcox
Broderick O'Farrell
Board member
Frank Holliday
Board member
Howard Truesdale
Board member
Lyle Tayo
Sleepy woman on train
Charlie Hall
Harry Bernard
Train passenger/
Dance spectator
Buddy McDonald
Hayes Robertson
Pullman porter
Jimmie Adams
Buster Adams
Artye Folz
Chet Brandenburg
Train passenger/
Joe Forte
Train passenger
William J. O'Brien
Train passenger
Grace Woods
Train passenger
Clifton Young
Charles Dorety
Jack Hill
Ham Kinsey
Train passenger/Smoker
Clara Guiol
Pete Gordon
Venice Lloyd
Train passenger
Cy Slocum
Jackie Williams
Harry Wilde
Edna Hall
Bob Minford
Russell Custer
Hope Harper
Laughing Gravy


CREDITS (click image to enlarge)

(click any image to enlarge)

Peter Mikkelsen (help locating a copy of the film)
Smile When The Raindrops Fall by Brian Anthony & Andy Edmonds (book)
Richard W. Bann (identification of Peggy Howard; Hayes Robertson)
Brent Seguine (help with identification of cast)
Jesse Brisson (identification of some cast including Cy Slocum, Joe Forte, Jackie Williams, Harry Wilde, Edna Hall,
Bob Minford, Hope Harper, Ham Kinsey, Broderick O'Farrell, Howard Truesdale, Frank Holliday, Russell Custer)
Matthew Lydick (identification of Artye Folz)

This page was last updated on: 60 April 2024