Series: Charley Chase

Director: James Parrott
Producer: Hal Roach
Titles: H.M. Walker
Photography: Len Powers
Editor: Richard C. Currier

Stars: Charley Chase, Edna Marion, May Wallace, William Orlamond
Company: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Released: 01 October 1927
Length: 2 reels
Production No.: C-1
Filming dates: June 17-24, 1927
Rating: 5/10

The Lighter That Failed

It's Charley's birthday and he has the family around. He is given a lighter as a gift but it doesn't work. Brother-in-law (Eugene Pallette) conveniently forgets to give Charley a gift and makes an excuse to leave to do so. Charley goes into the kitchen and uses a large carving knife to unscrew the lighter but ends up breaking the table. Not to be defeated, he goes next door to the Pipps' house to borrow a screwdriver. The family break up their dinner in order to help Charley search for a screwdriver in their kitchen (they look in some very strange places!)
Covered in flour, Charley returns to his own house and gets his fingers caught in a mousetrap in his kitchen when he reaches down to retrieve his lighter that he drops. His helpful wife (Edna Marion) finds Charley a screwdriver (it's about the size of an arrow!) and Charley sits down to resume trying to open up the lighter. His nosey father-in-law (William Orlamond) has to keep sticking his face into the situation and is told off by Charley. Charley then gets himself into trouble with his mother-in-law (May Wallace) for raising his voice to her daughter. "She's my wife and I'll raise a club if you don't get out!" Charley snaps back at her. Charley instructs his father-in-law to go get him a drink. One sip and Charley is doing his George Rowe impersonations! Drunk, covered in flour and now with the hic-cups, Charley continues to use an oversized screwdriver to unscrew his lighter, at which point the mother-in-law has packed up and leaves the house, willed on by Charley!
Charley wanders back into his kitchen and begins preparing a mixture, by adding all the necessary ingredients into a mixing bowl... flour, butter, eggs, mousetrap, you know... the usual stuff. He sieves out the contents into the sink and part of the metal from the mousetrap falls through the drain. In an effort to retrieve the fallen items, he (with the help of his family) pulls the sink clean off the wall, causing a major water spillage. He then deduces that the problem with the lighter is a matter of having no fuel inside it. Charley walks over to the gas station and gets the attendant (Chet Brandenburg) to fill up a gas can so that he can use it as lighter fuel. He then staggers back to the house and upon entering the kitchen spills most of the fuel on the floor. He manages to get some into the lighter and it briefly fires up. Unfortunately, Charley drops the lighter on the floor which then ignites.
As the fire begins the spread, Charley, his wife, father-in-law and daughter frantically try to extinguish the flames with flour but it's no good, and they flee the house (Charley grabs a few priceless items in the process). With the house completely ablaze the firemen turn up, but it's too late, the carcas of what's left collapses into the ground. The brother-in-law returns to find Charley on the sidewalk devastated. But all is not lost, as he hands Charley his birthday present: a new lighter. Charley explodes with anger and chases the man off down the street, shooting at him! The film ends with Charley in court explaining to the judge (Al Hallett) what happened. The judge, whilst listening to the case grows furious that his own lighter fails to light, and dismisses the case as "justifiable homicide!"

Favourite bit
Charley waits until the house completely burns to the ground before he announces, "it's out of control!"

Copyrighted October 12, 1927.
For Charley's birthday, his mother-in-law buys him a tie; his father-in-law buys him a bottle of liquor, and his brother-in-law buys him nothing!.
The intertitle cards refer to Charley Chase's character as "Theodore", but I am not certain if these are reproduced from the original script or not.
My opinion
This is one of those hard-to-find films which, I think raises the interest in seeing it. And when you have, you realise it's disappointingly not what you had hoped for.

Charley Chase
Edna Marion
Charley's wife
May Wallace
William Orlamond
Eugene Pallette
Kay Deslys
Mrs. Pipps
Chet Brandenburg
Gas station attendant
Al Hallett
Clara Guiol
Miss Pipps
Dorothy Shirley
Chase's niece/daughter
(it's hard to determine which she is)
F.F. Guenste
Pipps' butler
Anita Garvin
Noah Young
Will Stanton
Charles Meakin
Bobby Hutchins
Carter De Haven Jr.
Lucien Littlefield


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To all those who helped me find this film and allow me to use it for review on this site, I am very grateful.
Those involved have asked not to be identified and have offered me the film on strict confidentiality that it is not shown, copied or uploaded in any manner.
Peter Mikkelsen (still - reduced from original size and quality)
Jesse Brisson (identification of F.F. Guenste)

This page was last updated on: 13 March 2023