Series: Charley Chase

Director: Charles Parrott, Eddie Dunn
Producer: Hal Roach
Photography: Francis Corby
Editor: William H. Terhune
Sound: Harry Baker

Stars: Charley Chase, Betty Mack, Tommy Bond, Harry Bowen
Company: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Released: 05 May 1934
Length: 2 reels
Production No.: C-22
Filming dates:
Rating: 6/10

I'll Take Vanilla

Available on DVD:

Betty Mack is babysitting her nephew Tommy Bond and trying to get him to eat his spinach, which she knows is really broccoli. When he protests she telephones her sister (the boy's mother) (Gertrude Astor) to tell her. The mother says that if he eats his dinner then he can have some ice cream as a reward. Cue Charley Chase, driving along in an ice-cream truck whilst singing merrily to a gramophone record he has in the wagon. Betty spots him in the street and flags him down. They sing their way through her asking for some vanilla ice-cream. Finally, she buys some vanilla ice-cream and gives it to the brat she is looking after. But no, he wants peach!
Charley is talked into going into the house when Betty asks him for a favour (he jokingly responds, "what flavour would you like?") Inside, he is asked to change a large water cooler bottle on the kitchen floor. After trying to impress his attractive customer, Charley cuts the leg of his trousers with a corkscrew whilst attempting to get the cork out of the top. After fumbling around for a few moments, Charley somehow manages to get the bottle wedged into the top of his trousers as the water spills out down the inside of his clothes and onto the kitchen floor, with Betty looking on in sympathy. The brat refuses to eat his ice-cream because it hasn't any nuts in it, and Betty phones his mother once again. Charley threatens to throttle the little bastard but the brat warns him "I dare you!" In the telephone conversation, the mother tells Betty to give the boy his medicine. Junior overhears and rushes to the bathroom to pour his medicine down the sink. When Betty finds the empty bottle she leaves a reluctant Charley in charge of the brat whilst she goes out to get a replacement bottle. It doesn't take long before the "fun" begins.
Charley proposes the two of them play a game, which Tommy gladly agrees to. He dupes Charley into closing his eyes before launching the ice cream at his face. We then hear what sounds like the cross between a baby crying and a squirrel with the sounds that comes from Tommy's mouth. This quickly progresses to a game of punch and judy where Charley takes a whistle in his mouth and receives a punch from Tommy. This results in Charley swallowing the whistle and talking funny.
Moments after Betty collects the medicine from the druggist Charley arrives with Tommy looking for her. When Betty returns home she finds Tommy gone and calls for help. Policeman Harry Bowen quickly arrives on the scene and finds Charley driving his wagon on the street before ordering him out of it. The cop interrogates Charley by the side of the road for a few minutes until Betty shows up to reclaim Tommy. When she threatens to spank him Tommy explains to her that Charley took him to the drug store to look for her. Betty tells the cop that it has all been a big mistake and rescues Charley from potential arrest. When everybody returns to Betty's house, Betty has the audacity to expect Charley to take Tommy back to his mother's house, which is just around the corner. Charley takes Tommy back into the wagon but is seen by the cop. Two more cops (TINY SANDFORD and CHARLIE HALL) emerge from a doorway and take aim at Charley. This leads to a sawarm of cops filing out of nearby buildings and recklessly firing their guns at Charley's wagon as he drives away for an inconclusive finale.

Favourite bit
The drug store scene with Charley Chase and James C. Morton.

Copyrighted March 2, 1934.
The song that Charley sings is "Here Comes The Ice Cream Man".
When Gertrude Astor is talking on the telephone at the beginning of the film, you can see her right nipple poking through her dress.
There are eight bells in the ice-cream wagon.
After Betty Mack buys the vanilla ice-cream and walks off, Charley does a "Ben Blue" reaction. It's just as unfunny!
The sign on the side of the ice-cream wagon reads, "ICE CREAM in bulk, cones and bricks"
After Tommy Bond hits Charley, watch as he momentarily breaks character by laughing.
This was the fifth film Betty Mack appeared in with Charley Chase. She would go on to appear in four more.
There was another film by the same title of I'LL TAKE VANILLA released on December 10, 1922 - ironically it featured Charley Chase's brother James Parrott in the star role.
In the scene where Tommy Bond smacks Charley Chase in the mouth and Charley starts squaring up to him, Tommy breaks character by smiling and looking directly into the camera.
When the cop orders Charley out of the wagon to talk with him there are two people standing behind them on the sidewalk with nothing better to do than to be nosey. Still, I suppose if that had been today the couple would most likely have got their phones out and started filming it (and probably vertically, like every other idiot nowadays). And then more and more people show up out of nowhere and just cannot mind their own business.
When Betty finds Tommy in the ice cream wagon she tells him she is going to give him "the spanking of his life". I didn't know that it was an aunt's prerogative to spank somebody else's child? Must have made her feel real proud.
Tommy lives at 182 Culver Boulevard.
Chet Brandenburg is one of the cops at the end but I am unable to determine which one. He is seen in one the stills for the film, so I have used this as his image here.
The stepped shelving unit seen in Betty Mack’s living room also appears in Sons Of The Desert (noticeable when Stan gets the “thermometer”). The kitchen set also appears in same film.
The drugstore where Betty Mack gets Tommy Bond’s medicine is the Bacon Pharmacy on the corner of Motor Ave. and Tabor St. There’s an ad for Copenhagen tobacco on the bottom panel of the drugstore front door. However, the drugstore interior was filmed at the Hal Roach Studio (note position of counter relative to the front door: it’s to the right at Bacon Pharmacy, but to the left of where Charley enters and Betty exits in interior scenes).
While no 182 Culver Boulevard exists in today’s Los Angeles, Culver City’s addresses were renumbered in the 1950s, and 182 would have been somewhere in the vicinity of downtown Culver City. At present, 182 Culver would be somewhere in the Playa del Rey section of Los Angeles.
My opinion
It's decent enough but doesn't have a lot of sparkle. Tommy Bond's brattish character is just something annoying, isn't it? Charley fumbles around with a water-cooler, whilst Betty Mack demonstrates the art of how not to be a perfect role model as an aunt (threatens to smack her nephew and then asks a perfect stranger whom she just called the cops on to take the boy home to his mother). A couple of good scenes with Harry Bowen. Some annoying nosey bystanders and a surprise brief glimpse of Charlie Hall smacking Tiny Sandford in the mouth for accidentally shooting him. That, along with Jack Hill doing a ridiculously acrobatic back drop onto the ground. A very good song with Charley and Betty at the beginning. Watchable.

Charley Chase
Charley Chase
Betty Mack
Tommy Bond
Harry Bowen
Gertrude Astor
Junior's mother
James C. Morton
Tiny Sandford
Big cop
Charlie Hall
Small cop
Ellinor Vanderveer
Society woman
Baldwin Cooke
Nosey bystander
Jack Hill
Chet Brandenburg


CREDITS (click image to enlarge)

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Smile When The Raindrops Fall by Brian Anthony & Andy Edmonds (book)
Stan Taffel (poster)
Robert A. Winslow (additional trivia notes)

This page was last updated on: 11 June 2023