Series: Charley Chase

Director: Charley Chase, Walter Stevens
Producer: Hal Roach
Photography: Francis Corby
Editor: William H. Terhune
Sound: Harry Baker

Stars: Charley Chase, Betty Mack, Dell Henderson, Arthur Housman
Company: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Released: 08 September 1934
Length: 2 reels
Production No.: C-25
Filming dates: ?
Rating: 6/10

Something Simple

Available on DVD:

An ambulance rushes through town to deliver a patient to the local hopsital. They rush him inside on a stretcher and drop him on the floor before rushing upstairs to fetch Dr. Brown. Two man from the state sanitarium arrive to say they are looking for a man who escaped from the asylum suffering from a complex in which he believes he is a doctor. He is described as "tall, thin, has dark hair and is always reciting nursery rhymes". Charley is the patient, dumped on the floor by the ambulance men who is approached by a 'doctor'. Charley tells him that he gets a strange sensation with dizzy spells. The 'doctor' tells Charley he has tetraethyl and advises him to think of a nursery rhyme in order to clear his thoughts. Charley recites "Mary has a little lamb" and is supposedly cured. He thanks the 'doctor', who asks one favour of him in return: to deliver a letter to his friend J. Wilberforce Tanhauser, at the Mansion House hotel.
Mr. Tanhauser and his daughter arrived by taxi at the Knights of the Brown Derby annual conclave where a party is already in full swing. After a heated confrontation with the taxi driver of the fare, and receiving an accidental punch in the face from the well-meaning Charley who tries to calm the situation down, Tanhauser checks into the hotel. The desk clerk tells him that his room is not yet ready on account of the guest, Housman, who hasn't yet checked out. Meanwhile outside, Charley accidentally knocks out the taxi driver whilst demonstrating his fighting skills. He quickly enters the hotel but has one of his dizzy turns and sits down on Tanhauser's lap to recite another nursery rhyme.
Charley then goes to the front desk to enquire about giving his letter to Mr. Tanhauser in room 312 which prompts the clerk to offer a bizarre and confusing dialogue over Mr. Housman, the current occupier of that room, who then appears at the desk asking for his room key (see favourite bit). The drunken Mr. Housman offers an explanation as to how he ended up at the desk, then promptly tells Charley that he is the ugliest man he has ever seen. Charley siezes an opportunity to flirt with Betty, Mr. Tanhauser's daughter, until her father returns suffering from a dizzy spell, similar to the ones Charley suffers from. Charley tells him to recite a nursery rhyme, but as Tanhauser begins his "who killed cock robbin" speech two police officers come in and take him away believing him to be the escaped patient.
Charley and Betty get a taxi where she reads in the newspaper of an escaped patient who recites nursery rhymes. Just then Charley starts with "hey diddle diddle, the cat and the fiddle..." Betty twigs, as the taxi driver overhears it and jumps out of the moving taxi! Charley and Betty finalluy realise after some time that they have no driver, which also alerts a motorcycle cop to chase after them. The cop manages to pull alongside the taxi and jump in to take control of the vehicle before delivering the passengers to the court house. They arrive to find Tanhauser there, already pleading his innocence and offers the letter given to him by Charley as proof of his identity. The chief cop opens it and reads it: it is a nursery rhyme. Just as the cop is about to throw Tanhauser in jail, the bearded, spectacled judge shows up and confirms that neither Charley or Tanhauser are the escaped lunatic. All is forgiven and Tanhauser walks off with the two cops. The judge notices that Charley and Betty are interested in one another and offers them a book as a present.... a book of nursery rhymes. The judge removes his facial disguise to reveal that he is in fact Lew Kelly, the man everybody has been looking for all along.

Favourite bit
Oh my god this made me laugh out so loud the first time I saw it!! Arthur Housman - pissed as usual - approaches the front desk and asks for the key to room 312. The desk clerk tells him, "I'm very sorry sir, but Mr. Housman is in 312." Housman responds, "I beg your pardon, but I'm Mr. Housman - I just fell out the window." Harry Bowen and Charley Chase do double-takes. It is hilarious!

Copyrighted November 13, 1934.
The municipal hospital facade seen at the beginning of the film is actually the Hal Roach Admin building, covered in ivy.
When the two ambulance crew unload their patient and carry them up the steps at the beginning of the film, James C. Morton trips and falls over. You can clearly hear laughter in the background when this happens. This was most probably the film crew. To be honest, it is quite funny!
The doctor utters the title of the film when he tells Charley to "sit down and think of something simple". Charley also uses the phrase later on when he is talking to Mr. Tanhauser.
Harry Bowen plays the hotel desk clerk and wears a badge on his suit which says "Ohio 83". He introduces himself as "Bowen" on the telephone to Arthur Housman, who also confirms his name is "Housman" during the brief phone conversation.
The room occupied by Arthur Housman, is the same room booked by the hotel for Mr. Tanhauser - room 312.
When Charley and Betty are in the taxi, Charley is on the left and Betty is on the right, but after the driver bails out and the taxi veers off towards the train tracks when we see them again they have switched positions. Strange?
This was the first film of the 1934-35 season in the Charley Chase series.
Well, we now have a contender to Laurel and Hardy's awful rear-projection finale from County Hospital for WORST REAR PROJECTION SEQUENCE EVER!

My opinion
A basic storyline involving mistaken identity offers some witty dialogue but not much in the way of memorable or outstanding scenes. Betty Mack's contribution is rather minimal, but Dell Henderson has a meaty part as a central character who dominates every scene he appears in. Worth a watch.

Charley Chase
Betty Mack
Betty Tanhauser
Dell Henderson
J. Wilberforce Tanhauser
Arthur Housman
Housman, drunk conventionaire
Lew Kelly
Lew Kelly (a.k.a. 'Doc')
Harry Bowen
Bowen, hotel chief clerk
James C. Morton
Ambulance driver
Harry Bernard
Asylum attendant
Charlie Hall
Asylum attendant
Fred 'Snowflake' Toones
Taxi driver
Charles Sullivan
Taxi driver
Jack Cheatham
Police officer
Eddie Baker
Motorcycle cop
Joseph Young
Taxi driver
Cy Slocum
Ambulance attendant
[*not Eugene Pallette]


CREDITS (click image to enlarge)

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Smile When The Raindrops Fall by Brian Anthony & Andy Edmonds (book)
The Charley Chase Talkes 1929-1940 by James L. Neibaur (book)
Movie Publicity Showcase Volume 23: Charley Chase In "Nurse To You" And Other Selected Shorts by Irv Hyatt (book)
Brent Seguine (identification of Joseph Young)
Jesse Brisson (identification of Cy Slocum, and Eugene Pallette's non-appearance)

This page was last updated on: 15 January 2024