Series: Charley Chase

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

Stars: Charley Chase, Virginia Whiting
Company: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Released: 15 August 1931
Length: 2 reels
Production No.: C-1
Filming dates: May 11-15, 1931
Rating: 6/10

The Panic Is On


Virginia Morgan is Charley's sweetheart but her father tries to advise her against marrying him in these times of the Depression and tells her he will not entertain such an idea until Charley has accumulated $50,000. Charley sits in his apartment playing his guitar and singing to his dog (Laughing Gravy). The dog shows his appreciation by biting Charley on the bum. Charley goes downstairs to get his mail (a book he had ordered) from the landlady who tells him she will evict him unless he pays his rent soon. Charley returns to his room and starts pacing up and down, reading the book with an aggressive determination, punching the walls and causing all sorts of mayhem for his neighbor who is trying to read his own book next door. A newspaper boy hurls a paper through Charley's window, smacking him in the face. Charley finds the willpower to go and confront his landlady. Ultimately Charley submits to her and ends up working behind the counter to pay off some of his rent.
Another lodger (Baldwin Cooke) enlists the help of a friend to help him escape the hotel without paying his rent but Charley catches them in the act and orders them both out. When the landlady finds out she violently ejects Charley from the hotel... and his little dog too! Charley walks along the street reading the newspaper, which attracts the attentions of several pedestrians who follow him and eventually take his paper to read for themselves. Things are so bad that when Charley tries to light his cigar, the cigarettes vendor doesn't have enough fuel in his pump to ignite it. Charley instead lights a match and suddenly lots of pedestrians rush to him to use his flame to light their cigarettes!
Charley is almost run over whilst crossing the road as he bumps into a motorcycle cop. The cop cannot give chase because he has no fuel. Moments later a mugger tries to hold up Charley but when Charley reveals he has no money the mugger confesses he has no bullets for his gun either! A local villain calling himself 'The Spot' (Billy Gilbert) issues a ransom demand of $50,000 to Mr. Morgan - the father of Charley's girlfriend and hires Charley to deliver the message. Charley, who has never met Morgan, doesn't realise who he is and storms into his office to order him to hand over the money. Reluctantly Morgan agrees to pay and starts to mark the money when Charley is out of the room. The crooks are spooked when two policeman stop outside their office and talk about "pulling every last one of them" (the cop is referring to his aching teeth). The crooks panic and try to escape but before doing so they tell Charley he can keep whatever is inside the envelope Morgan has handed to him. In an ironic twist of fate Charley now has the exact amount of money needed in order to get married to Morgan's daughter, who up until this point has been largely absent from the film.
Charley opens the envelope to find the money, and as the coincidences keep on going just at that moment Virginia gets out of the elevator right in front of Charley. She takes Charley to meet her father, who explodes when he realises that Charley was the guy who just robbed him. Thinking fast, Charley turns the sticky moment to his advantage by giving the money back and telling Morgan he had foiled an attempt to have him robbed. The crooks see this through a window and think they have been double-crossed and storm into Morgan's office, taking him and his daughter captive whilst Charley fights off one of their members behind a curtain. Charley pretends to be locked in a battle with the crook whilst the leader hands the money to him before fleeing. A telephone call comes through notifying Morgan he has lost everything in the stock market which causes him to go to plan 'B'. He pulls out three crates of apples from his safe and ventures off to sell them in order to make some money. Charley laughs and casually returns the money to the safe.

Favourite bit
Charley Chase reading his book and hitting the walls and causing all sorts of mayhem for his neighbor Jerry Mandy. The vase was funny; the bed was hilarious! So funny.

Copyrighted July 27, 1931.
Features the song, "Cute Little Pal".
Also released with Spanish subtitles as "Tiempos de crises".
Charley's dog is none other than Laughing Gravy.
The book Charley receives in the post is "Force And Will" by Professor Carlitos Von Harbaugh.
The hotel is situated on the Hal Roach Back Lot. The location of it is the same spot where Laurel & Hardy are busking at the beginning of their film "Below Zero". If you look to the side of the five steps which lead up to the door from the sidewalk you can see a crate which is lying on its side (note the horizontal line through the middle of it) when the paperboy throws the paper up into the window. Later when Charley is evicted the crate is now standing upright with a vertical line through the middle of it.
The title of the film dervies from a line of dialogue spoken by Charley after the men take his newspaper. Charley says, "the panic is sure on!"
This was Billy Gilbert's first film for Hal Roach.

What the experts say
"The scene where Charley reads his book and punches the wall and causes a vase falls to fall from a shelf onto Jerry Mandy's head made me laugh out loud!" ~ Lord Heath.

Charley Chase
Charley Chase
Virginia Whiting
Virginia Morgan
Howard Truesdale
James Morgan
Margaret Mann
Mrs. Mann, landlady
Billy Gilbert
Smith, Investment broker
a.k.a. The Spot
Frank Holliday
Carl M. Leviness
Harry Bernard
Cop with toothache
Chester Bachman
Second policeman
Baldwin Cooke
Mr. Cooke
Jerry Mandy
Charley's neighbor
Leo Willis
Charlie Hall
Bob Minford
Tobacco vendor
Jack Hill
Ham Kinsey
Evelyn Burns
Woman in hallway
Charles Meakin
Cy Slocum
Motorcycle cop
Gordon Douglas
Charles Lloyd
Laughing Gravy
Charley's dog



The following scenes were filmed on the Hal Roach Back Lot and are included in the TOUR

Acknowledgements & sources:
Smile When The Raindrops Fall by Brian Anthony & Andy Edmonds (book)
Jesse Brisson (identification of Evelyn Burns, Charles Meakin, Gordon Douglas, Charles Lloyd, Cy Slocum)

This page was last updated on: 26 March 2022