|Riders Of The Kitchen Range
|Series:||"Hunky" Dorrey (Earl Mohan)||♦||Distribution:||Pathé||♦||Director:||Tay Garnett, George Jeske||♦||Cinematography:||?|
|Production:||D-59||♦||Type:||Silent short||♦||Producer:||Hal Roach||♦||Editor:||?|
|Released:||07 June 1925||♦||Length:||1-reel||♦||♦|
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The "Movie Vamp" (Ena Gregory) – a "girl with a past–Born 1902–Dyed 1922–Bleached 1923" – exits her chauffeured car to purchase a stove from salesman (Charles Lloyd). She asks for "something in pale pink" and he shows her a couple, though when he opens the door of one, he has to shoo out a few birds. He guarantees "twenty miles to the gallon," and the actress ultimately settles on one, giving the salesman a card with her address and instructions to "put it in the kitchen." [It should be noted that, despite getting third billing, this is all we see of Ena Gregory.|
"You can tell some plumbers as far as you can see them–others are so dumb you can't tell them anything." Of course, the card speaks of our stars, Earl Mohan and Billy Engle, bowler-hatted much like Laurel & Hardy except not as memorable, carrying a crate. The salesman calls Earl over, and he lets the crate fall on and trap poor Billy. The salesman gives Earl the card (and flips it over for him), telling him to "be polite [and] pretend [he's] a gent!" before freeing Billy. We then cut to the actress' maid (Dolores Johnson), who "calls herself a 'Near-Vamp'–the difference is just a matter of figures." She enters a room with a box containing a black dress (ostensibly for the actress), which she drops. The maid picks up the dress and starts modeling around with it, then sits down at a vanity and begins primping herself up. Meanwhile, Earl and Billy deliver the kitchen range on a motorcycle driven by the former. The usual near-misses with pedestrians and an automobile occurs, then Billy falls off and runs to get back on. The pair wind up riding into a lake... then one can see Earl's head above the water as it skids through, and out of the lake. A nice, clean getaway... except Billy and the range are still in the lake! With no recourse, Billy has to lug the range on his back by himself, and swaps his damp clothes with that of a nearby scarecrow.
"They say clothes won't make a man–that depends on the girl who wears them." Cue the newly vamped-up maid, complete with cane, cigarette holder and an odd-looking dog on a leash. A tinier dog on a pillow barks at them, scaring away the other dog who knocks down the leash-carrying maid. Undeterred, she seats herself sexily and seductively on a group of pillows as a vamp would. The door opens, and the smiling, hat-holding Earl is revealed. He enters, acting nervy and then reacts as if he gets "shot" or poked in the backside, but walks in and finds the maid. "Got th' stove here–wanna try it on?" he asks her. She compliments him on his "wonderful eyes . . . so intelligent!" "Nix! I'm a plumber!" he responds. She slinks over to him and caresses him, but he moves her hand, then pulls a stopwatch out of his pocket and hides it in his sock. She walks away, but accidentally pokes Earl's bottom with her cane: "Don't get familiar–we ain't been introduced!" he retorts. He calls for Billy, who carries the range through the door in his ill-fitting scarecrow clothes. Earl directs Billy to put it down (and wipes his own brow), and the range crashes into pieces. Billy hides in his heightened shirt collar while Earl sits by the maid, who continues to paw at him as he keeps objecting more and more intensely until it is revealed he is sitting on the small dog. The maid admonishes "Pergola" for "biting nice mans," but Earl clarifies that the dog kicked him.
Earl briefly smokes from a hookah as the maid seductively dances for him. Billy comedically leans forward like the Tin Man to get a view of a tattoo on the maid's exposed back. Mercury in the thermometer under the entranced Billy's arm shoots out, and Earl storms over to admonish Billy (as the maid goes to embrace Earl, just missing him), and hits him with the thermometer, causing his head to hide inside his collar again. A confused Earl takes Billy's hat off and yells into the collar, and Billy's head pops back out. "Remember, you're here for business–not to lounge around!" Earl reminds him. Earl sits by the maid again, who embraces him while holding a flower as he takes another hookah puff. Billy carries the range again, but collapses under the weight. Earl attempts to lift the range off Billy, even standing on his back at one point. Finally, Earl notices a keg labeled "POWDER," and Billy lights one of three matches tucked in his hat band. The ensuing explosion sends Billy into the kitchen. Earl and the vamp enter, and Earl kicks Billy out into the hallway where he faces the wrath of Pergola. Billy runs upstairs and hides in the room the maid was in earlier, milking a scene with a mischievous top hat that he accidentally flattened.
Meanwhile, Earl sets to work on installing the range, getting both him and the maid all dusty with drywall from cutting a hole in the ceiling for the pipe. Earl's putting the pipe in the hole conflicts with Billy upstairs, who is constantly knocked around and even held up by it. Earl, perhaps in an attempt to hold it up, puts the pipe on the top of his head (yeah, like nothing will happen there!) as he asks the maid to "hand [him] a hatchet or a spool of thread–or somethin'!" Of course, the pipe eventually conceals Earl's head. A curious Billy, looking down into the pipe, lights a match, which he accidentally drops in after apparently singeing his fingers. An extreme amount of smoke emits from the pipe, while Earl, still with the now-burning pipe on his head, runs around the kitchen and out the door, with Billy chasing after him. The short closes on one final gag, when we see people waiting at a train station who rush to get out when the smoking pipe is mistaken for their train. The crowd is dismayed, and one dazed man even tosses his barely-closed suitcase.
Right at the end when Earl Mohan walks down the street with the pipe stuck to his head, and with it emitting thick black smoke from its stack. He passes the waiting room of a train station. The passengers see the top half of it and prepare to board the "train". It's a weak contender for favourite bit, but then again the whole damn film is weak!
• Production D-59 - "Hunky" Dorrey series.
• Copyrighted May 29, 1925.
• Also listed for June 13, 1925.
• April 2-5, 1924.
• In a close-up shot of Billy Engle you can clearly see the thin make-up applied under his eyes in order for him to be photographed for the film. This was often the case for actors with pale or blue eyes.
What the experts say
• With the exception of a few sexy shots of Dolores Johnson as the maid, this film is completely lacking in any and every form of entertainment. - Lord Heath.
Some comtemporary reviews:
https://archive.org/stream/motionpicturenew00moti_7#page/2828/mode/1up/search/%22riders+of+the+kitchen+range%22" (Motion Picture News, 6 June 1925)
"It is filled with gags which are dear to the hearts of comedy directors. . . It is all very 'usual' but done in an unusually good style for a single-reel offering. . . –T. C. KENNEDY."
https://archive.org/stream/e00newy#page/n128/mode/1up/search/%22riders+of+the+kitchen+ranges%22" (Exhibitor's Trade Review, 6 June 1925)
"This is a comedy of the usual slapstick and hokum type. . . [Mohan and Engle] do their best with what little material has been offered to them . . ."
Jesse Brisson (review and help)
This page was last updated on: 19 March 2017