Series: All Stars

Director: Stan Laurel
Producer: Hal Roach
Titles: H.M. Walker
Photography: Harry Gersted
Editor: Richard C. Currier

Stars: Helene Chadwick, James Finlayson, Ted Healy, Charlotte Mineau
Company: Pathé Exchange
Released: 03 October 1926
Length: 2 reels
Production No.: S-12
Filming dates: May 14 - June 2, 1926;
added scenes June 7, 1926

Rating: 5/10

Wise Guys Prefer Brunettes
James Finlayson is the Dean of Pinkham University for girls. He sends the young ladies to the store to get petticoats as opposed to the short skirts they are accustomed to wearing. The girls gather around and sing about him being a cockroach before he walks in and catches them. The Dean blames Helene (Chadwick, the owner of the store) for the decline in the girl's behaviour and orders her to leave the shop within 24 hours. Enter Napoleon Fizz (Ted Healy), the caretaker for the Dean's cottage. He telephones his girl to tell her of his magic plaster which restores youth. She suggests that he uses it on the Dean. Just then the Dean enters the room and Fizz jumps on him and attempts to apply his formula. Helene enters and pleads with the Dean for more time to leave her shop but he refuses and promptly expels Fizz from the university before going into a steam room.
The Dean accidentally sits on Fizz's plaster which transforms him back into the michievious guy he was once long ago when he used to chase the women at school. He sees a bunch of bathing beauties by a pool and goes over to join them. Bikini-clad girls slide into the pool as the Dean looks on with excitement. This gives Helene the opportunity to keep her shop and to save Fizz from being expelled. The President of the university shows up to find the Dean acting all inappropriate-like with the ladies and he cannot believe his eyes! He decides to call a meeting of the Faculty. Meanwhile the Dean dives into the water where he spends a while on the bottom of the pond with one of the girls before giving chase (this scene is well shot and gives the impression the whole thing is underwater). Later that evening the Dean begins serenading Helene outside the campus building as the girls hurry Fizz into donning the Matron's clothing.
The Dean climbs up a ladder to Helene's balcony where she greets him and asks him to wait in her room. Helene sends in Fizz, who is now dressed in the matron's wig, to seduce him. As Fizz wrestles the Dean to the ground he manages to pull him up onto a chair just as Helene enters the room with a camera to snap them together. The matron arrives and heads upstairs when she hears the commotion being caused. She tells Helene that the Faculty are coming over to talk to her and that she should prepare to move out tonight. The Dean, in the next room, starts to come round from his dizzy encounter with Fizz dressed up as the matron and realises he has been in a trance by recognising he is not wearing his own clothes. He throws his bottoms out of the window just as the matron enters the room, so he quickly dives under the bed to avoid being seen.
The Faculty arrives downstairs as Fizz, still dressed up in the matron's clothes, falls down the stairs and lands at their feet much to their surprise. The real matron gets into her bed with the Dean still hiding underneath it. Eventually a caged parrot gives him up by telling the matron to look under the bed. The Dean leaps up and runs out of the room and tries to hide. He is accosted by Fizz, whom the Dean still believes is the matron, and the two get into a struggle in front of the stunned onlookers before both falling out of the first storey window. The matron then appears on the landing and the President demands to know who the impostor is? Not realising she is the real matron, the President throws her out of the same window. She is then seen chasing Fizz and the Dean across the lawn outside before they all fall into the pond.

Favourite bit
It's a brief moment when the cocksure Dean helps himself to the matron's wig - whilst she is wearing it.

Copyrighted September 17, 1926.
Helene Chadwick is listed as the star of the film, though in the print I viewed her name was absent from the credits. This must be wrong and would indicate a title card was missing.
The jumper that Finlayson wears has the initials PU on it. This obviously stands for Pinkham University.
At least one source claims that Helen Gilmore and Sammy Brooks are in the cast.
According to the 1929 and 1930 Motion Picture News Blue Books, Dorothy Coburn doubled for Helene Chadwick in the swimming and diving scenes. It states that Coburn "Entered pictures in May, 1926. Daily swim in Culver City Community pool led to being sent to Hal Roach Studios to double Helene Chadwick in swimming and diving. Remained a double 7 mos."
My opinion
I only had a beaten-up copy of the film available to me for review which obviously affects the viewing pleasure. That said, it's a decent comedy which is helped by a fine performance from Finlayson.

Helene Chadwick
James Finlayson
Dean of Pinkham University
Ted Healy
Napoleon Fitz
Burr McIntosh
The President
Charlotte Mineau
The matron
William Courtright
Faculty member
Tyler Brooke
Faculty member
Clara Guiol
Martha Sleeper
Co-ed climbing out of pool
Virginia Roye
[image from still]


CREDITS (click image to enlarge) INTERTITLES (click image to enlarge)

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A History Of The Hal Roach Studios by Richard Lewis Ward (book)
Dave Stevenson (print)
Bill Cassara (lobby card)
Jesse Brisson (information relating to Dorothy Coburn's appearance; identification of Martha Sleeper)
Bob Duncan (3 stills)

This page was last updated on: 31 July 2022