There Ain't No Santa Claus
Series: Charley Chase Distribution: Pathé Exchange  Director: James Parrott Cinematography: Len Powers
Production: B-15 Type: Silent short Producer: Hal Roach  Editor: Richard C. Currier
Released: 12 December 1926 Length: 2-reels Titles: H.M. Walker (?) Costumes: Lambert


It's Christmas Eve and Charley is wrapping up his wife's present when she (Eugenia Gilbert) comes into the room and informs him the baby is gone.  Not so, as Charley opens the sideboard drawers to reveal the child inside and well.  Outside it appears to be snowing hard and Charley decides to go and finish his Christmas shopping, dressing up in his warm coat and hat but no sooner does he step outside, it is bright sunshine.  The landlord's boy (Mickey Bennett) is sitting on top of a wall throwing feathers from a pillowcase to get the desired effect.
The landlord (Noah Young) calls Charley over and demands his rent, but Charley pleads with him that he hasn't enough money to buy his wife a Christmas present and assures the landlord that he will receive his rent in due course.  Charley goes into town to buy a $80 watch for his wife, but the landlord follows him.  Charley tells the store owner (Al Hallett) he wants to buy the watch but quickly changes his mind when he notices the landlord standing behind him.  After giving the landlord the slip, Charley re-enters the store and demands the watch, only to pull another excuse not to buy it when the landlord follows him in.  A third attempt is successful and Charley buys the watch.  On the way home Charley stops off to buy a Christmas tree and telephones his wife to take "Toodles" (the name of their child - seriously!) next door so that Charley can get things sorted in their own home.
The landlord's wife (Kay Deslys) encourages her brat son to play with "Toodles", and Mrs. Chase leaves.  Meanwhile, Charley is cycling home with the tree balanced on his lap when he rides into the back of a stationary car and spears the owner with the end of the tree and then plows into a pedestrian who is struggling with a turkey.  As Charley comes to a halt the turkey conveniently drops an egg onto the face of a manhole worker, who retaliates by using his blowtorch to set fire to Charley's tree.
Charley rides off faster down the street, trying to blow out the flames before eventually riding through a field with multiple sprinkler systems going.  When he gets home with the ruined tree, the landlord's son spies Charley hiding the watch in his garage and quickly runs to tell his dad.  The landlord finds the watch and takes it in payment for the rent owed; even going to the trouble of writing a receipt for it in the disguise of a Christmas card which he gives to Charley.
Charley pleads with the landlord, who relents a little by offering Charley a substitute present - a pillow with "remember the Maine" etched on it.  Charley returns home where his wife makes a subtle hint regarding wanting a watch.  Charley returns to the garage and puts on a Santa costume... at the same time the landlord puts on his.  They chase one another around the outside of the house, each grabbing the one and only beard they have between them, with the landlord reminding Charley that he will not spoil his kids' Christmas.
The beard is exchanged a few times, as the landlord ends up on the roof but accidentally drops the beard down his chimney.  Charley sneaks into the landlord's house to retrieve the beard from the fire before climbing up the inside of the chimney to the roof where the landlord is waiting to snatch the beard back.  When Charley climbs down from the roof the landlord boasts that he has the watch and shows it off to Charley.  Charley throws a brick up and hits the landlord, knocking off the fake beard but the brick hits Charley on his head as it lands.  As luck would have it, the watch casing becomes entangled with the beard and Charley takes possession of both.
His joy is short lived however, as Charley drops the sack of goodies down the wrong chimney.  After protesting that the landlord has all of Charley's presents, the landlord agrees to give Charley his own, as a swap.  Both wives sit in their respective homes and dish out the (wrong) gifts for their children, each confused as they do so.  It's clear Mrs. Chase is not keen with her presents, though the landlord's wife is chuffed to have received a watch and cannot wait to show it off to the neighbours.  Mrs. Chase is annoyed with the mix-up, but in a surprise twist, the owner of the store shows up at Charley's house and gives him the real watch, explaining that the one he sold him earlier was a cheap one-dollar watch by mistake.  The Chase's are ecstatic, and the landlord and his wife are left with egg on their face.

Favourite bit
There's nothing quite like being mucked about, is there?

Production B-15 - Charley Chase series.
Copyrighted December 31, 1926.
Some sources give a release date of January 9, 1927. 

Filming dates
September 27 - October 7, 1926.

The house Charley lives in is number 3773.  The landlord lives next door at 3771.
The store Charley visits to buy the watch is number 6730.
There are eighteen intertitle cards within the first five minutes of the film.
Charley's Christmas list includes: tree, dishes, doll, horse, ornaments, tinsel, turkey.
The story of the USS Maine, as mentioned in the film can be found on this Wikipedia page.
The landlord's wife rushes into Mrs. Chase's house and wastes no time in showing off her new watch.  Who does that?  How incredibly rude and what a show off!
I still don't see the point in having the store detective in the film?  Seems like a wasted character.

Charley Chase
Charley Chase
Eugenia Gilbert
Charley's wife
Noah Young
Noah Stout, landlord
Kay Deslys
Mrs. Stout,
landlord's wife
Mickey Bennett
Landlord's son
Fred Kelsey
Store detective
Al Hallett
Store keeper
Lincoln Plumer
Tree salesman
Harry Tenbrook
Manhole worker
Sam Lufkin
Man in car speared by tree
Chet Brandenburg
Pedestrian with turkey



Acknowledgements: Wikipedia (USS Maine story)
'Smile When The Raindrops Fall' by Brian Anthony & Andy Edmonds (book)
Gene Sorkin; Dave Stevenson (prints)
Steve Massa (identification of Lincoln Plummer, Harry Tenbrook, Sam Lufkin)
Jesse Brisson (identification of Chet Brandenburg)

This page was last updated on: 26 December 2015