Series: Charley Chase

Director: Charley Chase
Producer: Hal Roach
Photography: Glenn R. Kershner
Editor: William H. Terhune
Sound: James Greene

Stars: Charley Chase, Muriel Evans, Anita Garvin, James Finlayson
Company: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Released: 29 April 1933
Length: 2 reels
Production No.: C-15
Filming dates:
Rating: 7/10

His Silent Racket

Available on DVD:

Business is slow for James Finlayson's Elite cleaning and pressing store; even the cash register has cobwebs on it. Four heavies led by Harry Bernard enter his store and threaten bad things will happen if Finlayson "doesn't play ball with us"! After Harry gives Fin an exploding cigar as a warning, he and his cronies leave but with the threat of returning in a couple of days. Desperate, Fin places an advert in the newspaper for a partner. Cue Charley (Chase), who answers the ad and is keen to fill the position. Fin hands Charley his first assignment: to call on clients and ask for their business. Charley is sent to Fin's home (Charley isn't made aware of that fact) where he is introduced to Fin's wife (Anita Garvin) and her reluctant sister (Muriel Evans).
After Anita suggests Charley and Muriel dance together, Anita re-appears in the shot wearing next-to-nothing (very Thelma Todd of her - see RISQUE section at bottom of this page for screenshots). Anita then offers Charley a stiff drink and he reacts strongly to tasting it (very Arthur Housman of him!) The intoxicated Charley then telephones Fin to boast of the house he is in (not knowing it's Fin's). Charley then visits the next customer on his list (Estelle Etterre) but his behaviour gets him booted out through the front door. Fin is seemingly chuffed with Charley's 'success' and offers him a partnership in the business but then quickly leaves the store knowing that the racketeers are due to pay a visit. And on cue, Harry and his boys return, this time with a bomb and enlist a passerby to deliver it to the store for them before they drive off in their car. When the negro man dutifully obliges, Charley offers him a job - sending the man running from the store!
Charley is in the back of the store ironing some pants when he is distracted by strange sounds coming from inside the package. After phoning Fin to tell him, Fin realises there is a bomb inside though rather than tell Charley, he leaves his apartment which prompts Charley to bring the package to Fin, obliviously flinging it around in the back of the truck. As Charley arrives he meets Muriel coming out of the building and the two go off together in the car.
Along the journey they are stopped by a gentleman who asks for some costumes to be cleaned. Muriel does the negotiating and takes the order. Fin comes home to find that Muriel has taken the store's money to be banked and chases after her in his car. At an intersection being managed by cop Eddie Baker, Fin runs into the back of Charley's car. Charley drags Fin's car to the police station where they all get out and inform the police of a bomb in the back of Charley's car. Cop James C. Morton is bringing the racketeer gang into the police station when he takes over with the bomb situation. After placing the package into a bucket of water, the bomb explodes and sends the costumes from the back of Charley's wagon into the air. When the smoke clears everybody in the vicinity is 'wearing' the costumes. Charley and Muriel are dressed in the cops' uniforms and sneak in one last kiss on top of a telegraph pole.

Favourite bit
There is a great moment from James Finlayson at the end when he snitches on the racketeers to the cop.  He points a subtle finger in the direction of Harry Bernard to expose him for being responsible for the bomb. Snitchy!

Copyrighted March 27, 1933.
The film opens with a newspaper article in the Los Angeles Examiner with the headline, "Prosperity just around the corner!"
The four gang members who threaten James Finlayson are Harry Bernard, Leo Willis, Dick Gilbert and Cy Slocum.
Anita Garvin and Muriel Evans star as sisters in the film, though their off-screen friendship was far from happy! The story goes that Garvin walked in on her husband in bed with Evans and thus brought about the demise of Garvin's marriage to Clem Beauchamp. In a prophetic twist of fate, one of the lines Evans says to Garvin in this film is "Well, he's your husband, not mine!" Ouch!
When the traffic cop asks Charley if he thinks today is his birthday, Charley replies, "no, not until October the 20th". October 20th was Chase's real birthday!
The phone number painted on the window of the the dry cleaning shop is completely different from the phone number listed in the newspaper ad. Also, the number in the advert did indeed ring in the shop.
James Finlayson is the owner of Elite Cleaners, 1804 Manhatten [sic] Avenue (as seen on the package). Telephone number Main 3427 (as see in the advertisement).
Mr. & Mrs. Finlayson's telephone number is Westlake 456.
The first time Charley kisses Muriel on the mouth at the end she keeps her eyes open. He kisses her again in the final scene on top of the telegraph pole.
Charles Lloyd is seen twice in the film. Firstly, in Fin's store and later as one of the pedestrians in the crowd scene with the cops and the bomb at the end.
When Charley first hears the sound of bomb in the package he comes out from the back room and thinks a customer is in the store. Why does he automatically assume it's a man? ("What can I do for you, sir?"
The Brandenburg Cleaners & Dryers company is an obvious reference to Chet & Ed Brandenburg.
My opinion
Decent comedy with Charley Chase on good form. Lovely support from Muriel Evans and James Finlayson, though is weak in parts. An enjoyable entry in Charley Chase's series of sound shorts of this period.

Charley Chase
Muriel Evans
James Finlayson
James Finlayson
Anita Garvin
Mrs. Finlayson
Harry Bernard
Charlie Hall
Brandenburg Cleaner's man
James C. Morton
Captain Wafflebottom
Eddie Baker
Traffic cop<
Leo Willis
Dick Gilbert
Cy Slocum
Charles Dorety
Attendant drinking from hose
Estelle Etterre
Customer whom Charley visits
Charles Lloyd
Customer in store
Jack Raymond
Costumes manager
Lew Davis
Theater assistant, Dennis
Hayes Robertson
Parcel carrier
Bud Ross
Man under desk
Harry Schultz
Pedestrian outside store
Ernie Alexander
Busy store employee
Pete Gordon
Busy store employee
Bob Minford
Store employee ironing pants
Charlie Phillips
Busy store employee
Ellinor Vanderveer
Crowd extra at police station
Sam Lufkin
Charles McMurphy

CREDITS (click image to enlarge)

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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)
Michael Brydon (observations)
Chris Bungo, Brent Seguine (help with prints)
Steve Rydzewski (identification of Bud Ross)
Jorge Finkielman (poster)
Jesse Brisson (identification of Pete Gordon, Ernie Alexander, Bob Minford, Charlie Phillips, Ellinor Vanderveer,
Harry Schultz, Jack Raymond, Estelle Etterre, Sam Lufkin, Lew Davis, Cy Slocum)

This page was last updated on: 11 January 2023