Series: Charley Chase

Director: Charley Chase
Producer: Hal Roach
Photography: Francis Corby
Editor: William H. Terhune
Sound: Warren B. Delaplain

Stars: Charley Chase, Betty Mack, Gale Henry, Billy Gilbert, Jack Barty
Company: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Released: 09 December 1933
Length: 2 reels
Production No.: C-19
Filming dates: September 23 - October 1, 1933
Rating: 9/10

Luncheon At Twelve

Available on DVD:

When Charley realises he hasn't put his pan of ashes out for collection he runs down the street in his pajamas to give it to the collector in the cart (Jack Barty) who refuses to accept it. So Charley sneaks around the back of some houses to place his can on the sidewalk next to another can as the cart approaches the area. The collector is about to empty Charley's can when a neighbor Mr. Schmaltz (Billy Gilbert) tells the collector that the second can does not belong to him. The collector sees Charley hiding behind a tree and drives on without emptying his can, provoking Charley in the process. Charley is about to walk off with his unemptied can when a screaming neighbor confronts him and accuses Charley of stealing her can. When Charley won't relinquish it she calls for her father who comes out and confirms that the can does in fact belong to Charley.
After Betty calms down and the two make up she offers him a job working for her father as an interior decorator but Charley has no idea how to dress for such a job and so he consults neighbor Baldy Cooke on the sidewalk. Charley is finally successful in getting the dust cart to take his ashes when he tricks them by staying out of sight as the cart pulls up. When the collector realises he has been duped he spills the ashes all out onto the road which doesn't go down well with streetsweeper Charlie Hall! Charley arrives at Betty's house over-dressed for work and leaves with her father to go to some posh mansion where Charley wastes no time in getting stuck in; pulling down painting in front of the bewildered owners (including a cleavage-revealing Gale Henry).
The host, Mrs. Greta Van Gelt (Gale Henry) entertains her guests with Professor Sanborn (Rolfe Sedan) who is to perform on his fiddle. In typical scatty-mode of hers, she tries to quieten the others so that he can play. In the kitchen Charley splashes his trousers with paint and then manages to paint Mr. Schmaltz's hand when he is distracted by Betty. After an apology is offered Charley continues to be distracted by Betty, so much so that Charley then ends up painting the whole of Schmaltz's backside! (Billy Gilbert's facial reaction to this is hilarious). Schmaltz gives Charley a second warning about being careless - and then goes and paints the assistant's bald head! The routine is extended with the assistant painting Charley's head as well. Just brilliant.
Betty delivers lunch to the men and it just gets better and better: Schmaltz paints the table with a sandwich whilst Charley eats a paintbrush by mistake. When the caterer comes into the kitchen he recognises Charley and takes him and the others into the living room to introduce him to old pal Jack who then plays the piano whilst Charley sings (with his face still covered in paint). Charley's wonderful voice draws the attention of the other guests who have just sat down for dinner. Betty joins in with the singing as the guests all dance in the background. The ash collector from the beginning of the film shows up in the kitchen and invites himself into the house and begins dancing with Mrs. Van Gelt (an odd looking dance couple with her in her a beautiful dress and him in his sweaty shirt). The film simple fades out at the end of the song on a high, capping off a wonderful twenty minutes.

Favourite bit
There are so many choices here! Charley Chase immitating Billy Gilbert's voice, amidst the painting chaos scenes in the kitchen. But for me it's the scene when Charlie Hall summons fellow Brit Jack Barty over to speak to him about all the ash he has just poured out onto the road. No words are exchanged, no warning is given.... just BOSH! Hilarious.

Copyrighted December 5, 1933.
When Jack Barty talks about "hauling yer ashes", that phrase was a common euphemism in the early 20th century for having sex. That, and the joke Baldwin Cooke makes when Charley asks how an interior decorator dresses - "You don't wear a dress, you just come as close to it as possible" - are things I like to point out when anyone mentions how family-oriented Hal Roach comedies were.
In the scene which by today's standards would be considered racist, Charley yells at Jack Barty "That's the problem with this country, there's too many foreigners here". Jack Barty was from England, thus making him a foreigner.
It's Betty who utters the title of the film when she tells her father that she'll bring his "luncheon at twelve".
Mrs. Greta Van Gelt to Professor Sanborn: "are you getting ready to fiddle now?" Without the full context of the scene in question this could have been a very misinterpreted comment! The scene.
There's an odd scene in the kitchen when Charley gets his trousers splashed with paint. You can see Betty's hand on the right hand-side of the screen.
The song Charley sings at the end of the film is "Desdemona".
Some sources incorrectly list Marvin Hatley and Bill Franey as being in the film.
My opinion
A brilliant film, full of ideas, executed with passion and energy. The laughs just keep on coming. Chase is on top form, and the supporting cast are equally as good. Billy Gilbert has some wonderful scenes with Chase where they both put in 100% for the sake of pure comedy involving getting themselves completely covered in paint. And not to forget the sequence between Charley Chase and Jack Barty in the first part of the film is priceless. This is one of the best films in the series. Would have been a perfect 10/10 except for the song at the end which slows it all right down. But it's pretty much perfect otherwise.

Charley Chase
Charley Chase
Betty Mack
Betty Schmaltz
Gale Henry
Mrs. Greta Van Gelt
Billy Gilbert
Mr. Schmaltz
Jack Barty
Ash collector
Jimmie Adams
Frank Gage
Frank, caterer
Harry Bernard
Party guest
Baldwin Cooke
Baldy, a neighbor
Charlie Hall
Street sweeper
Charles Meakin
Mr. Van Gelt
Rolfe Sedan
Professor Sanborn
Ellinor Vanderveer
Party guest
Sam Harris
Party guest


CREDITS (click image to enlarge)

POSTER (click image to enlarge)

ALTERNATIVE TITLE CARD (click image to enlarge)

RISQUE (click image to enlarge)

(click any image to enlarge)

Chris Bungo's "Then & Now" video presentation

Smile When The Raindrops Fall by Brian Anthony & Andy Edmonds (book)
The Charley Chase Talkies 1929-1940 by James L. Neibaur (book)
Robert Winslow (trivia)
Richard Finegan (poster)
Chris Bungo (locations video)
Jesse Brisson (identification of Charles Meakin)
Brent Seguine (identification of Sam Harris)

This page was last updated on: 19 August 2021