Series: Max Davidson
Director: Fred L. Guiol
Producer: Hal Roach
Titles: Reed Heustis
Photography: Richard C. Currier
Editor: Richard C. Currier
Stars: Max Davidson, Martha Sleeper, Bert Sprotte, Gene Morgan, Spec O'Donnell
Released: 07 January 1928
Length: 2 reels
Production No.: D-6
Filming dates: October 14-31, 1927
Pass The Gravy
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Schultz (Bert Sprotte) is the proud recipient of many poultry trophies on account of his prized rooster and poses in the yard whilst his son (Gene Morgan) takes his photograph. Next door, Papa Gimplewart is doing some gardening with the counter-productive assistance of his son who empties the contents of a watering can all over him. As Gimplewart plants seeds in the ground, a hen flies over his fence and begins eating them. He catches the bird and warns it to stay out of his yard and throws it back over the fence. The hen is then seemingly chucked back into Gimplewart's yard but when he throws it back twenty more fly over. Frustrated, Gimplewart takes one of the hens to the chopping block but Schultz bursts through the fence in the nick of time to save the execution.
Schultz's son asks for a truce between the two fathers so that the two families can celebrate his engagement to Gimplewart's daughter (Martha Sleeper). All agree and Gimplewart gives his son some money to go and get a roasting chicken before inviting Schultz and his son for dinner. But Gimplewart's son pockets the money and instead grabs the nearest chicken he sees - Schultz's prized 'Brigham'. Dinner is served (by the black maid actually played by Hayes Robertson). It doesn't take long before Gimplewart's son discovers what he has done. He tries to explain to his sister (Sleeper) through mime the entire story as his father carves and chops up the bird on the table ready to eat! The son tries desperately to remove the "1ST PRIZE" tag from the roasted bird's leg before Schultz sees it but his father keeps slapping his hand.
Gimplewart slices the juicy bird and serves a big piece of it to Schultz who receives it with gratitude. The others all try to intervene, knowing the piece reveals the true identity of the chicken, but Gimplewart admonishes them all. Schultz takes a huge, satisfying bite whilst everybody else looks on nervously. The guilty son distracts Schultz from the food by spilling a glass of water onto his foot, then using the time to quickly to throw some mashed potato over the bird's tagged leg when Schultz bends down. It's a waiting game from here on in for the inevitable whilst the tension builds. One by one the embarrassed diners get up and leave the room, leaving Gimplewart and Schwartz together at the table. Gimplewart's daughter and Schultz's son try to distract Gimplewart from eating the meal by making hand gestures at him from the adjacent room.
This continues for a while, leaving both fathers totally bemused. The kids act out almost charades-like the fact that the two men are stuffing their hungry faces with Schultz's prized rooster. The act becomes more bizarre and desperate (you really have to see it to believe it!) until finally Gimplewart understands what has happened. He tries to swap the offending piece of meat from Schultz's plate with some offcuts but Schultz is having none of it and finally erupts. The kids get involved and the chicken (what's left of it) is thrown around the room in a game of 'catch' so as to stop Schultz from identifying it as his bird. But of course... he does discover the truth after rugby-tackling Gimplewart to the floor and retrieving the chicken leg. Gimplewart runs for his life, off down the street but Schultz gives chase before picking up a rock and launches it in his direction. After a few seconds Gimplewart stumbles to the ground and the revenge is complete.
The scene where Gene Morgan and Martha Sleeper try everything to get Max Davidson's attention in order to stop him from devouring the chicken is brilliant. It gets slightly bizarre in places but there are some simply wonderfully funny moments in it.
• Copyrighted January 9, 1928.
• Added to the National Film Registry on November 16, 1998.
• Schultz's prized rooster is called Brigham.
• The clumsy son tips the watering can over his father's back for a full six seconds before the father even realises he is wet!
• Martha Sleeper does some pretty acrobatic stuff during the film. First when she dives off screen during the 'charades' bit, and later during the fight over the chicken she dives onto the floor with such momentum that she almost over-compensates as her legs flip up backwards!
What the experts say
• "A pretty damn fine film, possibly one of the best silent comedy shorts ever made. The tension is well maintained throughout the dinner scene and doesn't disappoint. Very highly recommended." ~ Lord Heath.
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Brent Seguine (help)
Richard W. Bann (identification of Hayes Robertson)
Jesse Brisson (identification of Ed Brandenburg)
This page was last updated on: 17 July 2022