Series: All Stars

Director: Lloyd French
Producer: Hal Roach
Photography: Francis Corby
Editor: Bert Jordan
Sound: Harry Baker

Stars: Claudia Dell, Grace Hayle, Douglas Wakefield, Billy Gilbert, Don Barclay, Jack Barty, Eddie Foy Jr.
Company: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Released: 10 March 1934
Length: 2 reels
Production No.: B-6
Filming dates:
Rating: 4/10

The Caretaker's Daughter

Mrs. Rockliffe (GRACE HAYLE) is deciding which hat to wear for her ocean voyage when her impatient husband Colonel Rockliffe (JACK BARTY) decides for her by destroying one of the hats. With their son Donald (DON BARCLAY) in charge of the house, they leave. But Donald has other ideas and decides to leave for his own vacation. The butler Waffles (DOUGLAS WAKEFIELD) wastes little time in getting on the phone to Mr. Gilbert who is at home with his vaudeville-hopeful son Eddie (FOY), who likes to juggle cups, and daughter (CLAUDIA DELL). After spending ages trying to untangle himself from an enormous tuba he has been playing, Mr. Gilbert ends up crashing through a table with a little help from Eddie who comes to 'help'.
Waffles shows up at the house with the keys to the Rockliffe mansion and gives Gilbert the reminder to feed the fish. As Waffles leaves he has to retrieve his personal belongings from Eddie who is juggling them. Mr. Gilbert doesn't care much for the offer to live in the Rockliffe mansion but his two grown-up kids talk him into it. So after the vacuum cleaner swallows one of Gilbert's socks, and after some really cheesy reactions shots from the actors, the Gilbert family head off to their new temporary home. Claudia wants to pretend they really do live there even if it's just for one day, whilst Eddie wants to juggle the cutlery and Mr. Gilbert talks to the fish. Claudia goes out into the garden and starts striking up conversations with imaginary people just as Donald returns home with his broken car. Donald interrupts Claudia's ramblings and the two get acquainted. (Seeing and hearing somebody acting odd around Don Barclay makes Barclay look normal!)
A rather awkward and bemusing conversation takes place in the garden between Claudia and Donald as Mr. Gilbert explores the house and finds a small gymnasium. He punches a punchbag on the wall but ends up getting hit in the face with its rebound (see favourite bit). Eddie continues to juggle the furniture and somehow manages to end up with a very expensive jug on his head before falling all over the place. Claudia introduces her brother to Donald albeit with the jug still attached to his head. Donald and Claudia work together to pull the jug off Eddie's head only to find Eddie's head has momentarily gone! Mr. Gilbert has an accident on a rowing machine that sends him flying out of the first-floor window and down into the pond. Claudia introduces her father as Mr. Rockliffe in keeping with the pretence that they are the legitimate owners of the property.
Donald is getting his fortunes told by Claudia when Colonel Rockliffe and his wife return home suddenly. Donald pleads with them to play along before going inside the house and introducing the new guests as the Rockliffes. Mr. Gilbert assumes the role of the caretaker and escorts the real Rockliffe's through their own house. Gilbert takes the Rockliffe's into the lounge and offers them their own cigars whilst setting fire to his dressing gown after standing tooi close to an open fire. He goes one better by defacing a painting on the wall with the fire poker. Colonel Rockliffe has just about had enough of Gilbert and goes to grab his gun but his wife stops him. Whilst away in a nearby room Eddie is now balancing the fishbowl on top of a tennis racquet on his head. The colonel does eventually pull out his gun when Gilbert identifies a portrait on the wall as the real Rockliffe. Eddie comes into the room, trips over and sends the goldfish bowl flying through the air until it lands upside down on Mrs. Rockliffe's head (with the fish still in it). The colonel chases Mr. Gilbert and Eddie until they end up in a heap on the ground with the chandalier on their heads.

Favourite bit
I know Billy Gilbert often overplays some of his scenes but this one was genuinely funny. Around 10 minutes into the film, whilst wandering around the mansion he finds a gym room with a punchbag on the wall. He hits the bag but it then hits him in the face, causing him to stumble backwards and receive a second smack from a standing punchbag. His reactions are quite funny.

Copyrighted March 13, 1934.
Not to be confused with the previously-released film of the same name, The Caretaker's Daughter starring Charley Chase.
Colonel Rockliffe: "Goodbye". Donald Rockliffe replies, "Quite."
Waffles calls "Maine 2923" when he telephones Mr. Gilbert.
Is it just me or does Claudia Dell sound a lot like Thelma Todd in the scene where she is speaking on the telephone?
When Billy Gilbert has his accident on the rowing machine you can see he is replaced by a stunt double and that he is propelled across the floor whilst sitting on what appears to be a skateboard.
Naturally, Billy Gilbert gets a scene where he has to sneeze. This time it's after he lands in the pond.
Recognise the Rockliffe's front door? It's the same one Laurel and Hardy arrive at when searching for their Mr. Smith in Pack Up Your Troubles. In that film, the owner of the house was none other than Billy Gilbert - who plays one of the trespassers in this film whilst at the same house.
Don Barclay's character claims to be 26 years old in the film. He was actually 41 at the time of filming. That's some liberty there!
The painting that Billy Gilbert defaces is very similar to the one used in the Laurel and Hardy film Twice Two (1933).
Apart from the principal actors listed, there are two other people seen in the film: the cab driver who takes the Rockliffe's away at the beginning; and the stuntman who does Billy Gilbert's scene where he flies out of the window. We don't really get a good look at either of them.

My opinion
Think of Laurel & Hardy's Another Fine Mess but without Laurel and Hardy. Or Thelma Todd. Or any comedy. I mean really, what is there to say?! It's one of those films you will only want to see once, and only because it was produced by Hal Roach. This is a fine example of the lack of direction the All Stars' series was going in and it wouldn't be much longer before the series was completely cancelled. Not hard to see why. Jack Barty fits nicely in playing his character straight against Billy Gilbert's fumbling usual self.

Claudia Dell
Miss Gilbert
Grace Hayle
Mrs. Rockliffe
Douglas Wakefield
Waffles, the butler
Billy Gilbert
Mr. Gilbert
Don Barclay
Donald Rockliffe
Jack Barty
Colonel Philip Rockliffe
Eddie Foy Jr.
Eddie Gilbert

CREDITS (click image to enlarge)

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A History Of The Hal Roach Studios by Richard Lewis Ward (book)
Dave Stevenson (print)
Richard Finegan (poster)

This page was last updated on: 31 March 2022