Great entertainment from a neglected comedian
Barbara (Burkowsky) Underwood | Manly, NSW Australia | 09/17/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"It's wonderful to see that Kino Video is providing us with more great comedy from the silent era, especially of stars most of us might not be too familiar with. I was pleasantly surprised by this DVD right from the start: each of the six comedy shorts (averaging around 20 minutes in length) has very high production and picture quality, and I especially enjoyed the clever gags and ideas. Although this Kino Video series is called "Slapstick Symposium", I would rate Charley Chase's comedy as somewhat more 'high brow' than the everyday slapstick most of us are familiar with such as Keystone, early Chaplin and Arbuckle, for instance. So if you are no great fan of these silent comedians, then perhaps Charley Chase would be more to your taste. Personally, I got a lot more genuine good chuckles and plenty of smiles out of all 6 Chase shorts on this DVD than most Chaplin or Arbuckle. Not only are the gags quite original and clever, the overall editing and acting by Chase also add quality to these comedies. Unlike Chaplin, Arbuckle and others who played a clown-like character, Charley Chase is just a normal guy - much like Harold Lloyd - who finds himself in hilarious situations. His acting style is not excessive in any way, nor does he stand out, but the end product is always a satisfying and entertaining little comedy. Chase was more than just a comedian, however; he was also involved in writing, directing and of course, thinking up his own funny gags, and this DVD has a nice selection of good quality ones. My favourites are "Dog Shy" and "His Wooden Wedding" (in the latter he is misled into thinking his fiancee has a wooden leg) but Chase's appearance as Romeo in "Bromo and Juliet" as he pads his tights because his legs appeared too thin is also worth a couple of laughs. All up, this is about 2 hours of really good entertainment - perhaps nothing extraordinarily hilarious or unusual, but overall enjoyable. I was just a bit disappointed that the special feature biography on Charley Chase is only 8 minutes long, as I'm sure he deserves a much longer and thorough bio. Good fun for silent comedy fans, especially those who prefer the likes of Harold Lloyd."
The library won't be complete without it ... and even now it
Snorre Smari Mathiesen | Norway | 04/06/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I'm writing this review more or less to simply confirm my fellow-reviewer's conclusion. This second volume of Charley Chase-comedies is overall as satisfying as the first. As with any other comedian, some of Chase's movies work better than others (to be funny can be very unfunny at times!), but the best are downright hilarious and besides very well structured, and even the weaker include amusing moments.
I too would like to add DOG SHY and HIS WOODEN WEDDING as my favorites included here. In contrast to what most of his colleagues are concerned (even the most gifted ones, that is), Chase's gags are always well placed in context to the story and never waste any time. Fans of Chase will also find it interesting to see one of the few surviving films starring his brother James, SHINE 'EM UP -- it offers nothing extraordinary but is good fun nonetheless.
My complaint concerning this sampling of shorts is that his last silent effort MOVIE NIGHT, which marked my introduction to Chase and was one of his highlights, is left out in both volumes. I also think the featurette covering Chase's life could have lasted far longer -- thankfully, a very insightful and well researched biography entitled SMILE WHEN THE RAINDROPS FALL is available here on Amazon, which gives a unique portrayal of Charley the comedian as well as Chase the man.
However, THE CHARLEY CHASE COLLECTION VOL. 2 is recommended from me throughout to buffs of silent comedy and to you who somehow have got the strange impression that the mentioned genre is just "pies and knock-about." It's delightful to witness a comic genius finally being recognized!"
Pure vintage Chase
Anyechka | Rensselaer, NY United States | 06/07/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This volume brings together 5 wonderful Charley Chase shorts that showcase his comedic genius, as well as a rare short from his brother James Parrott (who went by Paul onscreen) and a very brief biography narrated by Serge Bromberg, the founder of Lobster Films (the company that puts together this great Slapstick Symposium series). Charley might not have been one of the top-ranking clowns of the silent and early sound era, but he was every bit as talented as the Big Three, and as more of his surviving work continues to be released, it seems as though more people are rediscovering him and realising just how talented and funny he was. Those who falsely associate silent comedy with nothing but pie fights and police chases will be pleasantly surprised at how sophisticated, polished, and inventive Charley's scenarios and gags were.
'His Wooden Wedding' (1925) features Charley as a man who is led by a bootlegger into believing the woman he's about to marry has a wooden leg. Little does he know this man's true intentions in telling him this lie, to gain for himself the heirloom diamond ring he gave his intended. The two end up on a cruise ship, where hilarity ensues, particularly as they fight to get the diamond back and the truth is slowly discovered.
'Isn't Life Terrible?' (1925) has Charley as a rather henpecked husband desperate to go on a summer vacation with his wife and daughter, with his leech of a brother-in-law Remington who lives with them (Oliver Hardy minus his moustache) tagging along for the ride. He had his heart set on going camping, but his wife and Remington changed their minds upon seeing an advertisement for a contest sponsored by a pen company, with the winner to get a free cruise. Though he wins the contest, everything that could possibly go wrong on this cruise does, and the troubles start even before the ship sets sail.
'Innocent Husbands' (1925) features Charley as Melvin (one of the few times he went by a name not his own after becoming a star), a husband with an even more difficult wife. His wife is convinced he's up to no good, even without any real evidence, and is prevailed upon by her catty friends to hold a séance so they can discover all of his alleged misdeeds. Things get complicated when the séance relocates to his own apartment, while he's trying to get an unwanted female admirer, his buddy who lives across the way, and his buddy's date out of there undetected.
'Dog Shy' (1926) has Charley as a man who's been deathly afraid of dogs since boyhood. He's chased into a phonebooth by a dog and ends up on the phone to a lovely young lady who's being forced to marry some repugnant nobleman, the man who just stormed out of the booth. He ends up being mistaken for the butler who has been sent to work at his new sweetheart's mansion, and in the course of his first day there has to conquer his old fear of dogs when called upon to take care of The Duke, the family's pet dog. The hilarity reaches a high point when six different people hatch three different plots that all take place at midnight, unbeknownest to the others.
'Bromo and Juliet' (1926) was previously released on Vol. 3 of 'The Lost Films of Laurel and Hardy,' and was my introduction to Charley. Here he's a young man roped into playing Romeo in his girlfriend's charity production so that she'll agree to marry him. Unfortunately, her drunken father is also appearing in the show, and Charley has to find a way to get him to the show on time. This task turns out to be anything but routine, as an irate cab driver whom the old man owes $40 to (Oliver Hardy) and a cop whose suspicions are aroused by the behavior of Charley, who has gotten drunk himself, are hot on their heels and tag them all of the way to the playhouse, all while the show is trying to go on.
'Shine 'Em Up!' (1922) stars Charley's brother James (Paul) as a shoeshine man who gets mixed up with a bunch of escaped convicts who eventually end up trying to rob the safe at the train station where he has just gotten a job. He also finds time to have a romance with the station master's daughter Okra (Jobyna Ralston, who became Harold Lloyd's leading lady a year later). It's enjoyable and entertaining enough (and James looks practically like Charley's identical twin), but his character just doesn't seem as real or endearing as his brother's. He seems more like just another comedian of the era, not a distinct personality whom the viewer connects with and grows to care about.
The disc is topped off by a 5-minute bio of Charley's career, starting with his days at Keystone in the Teens, moving forward to his glory years, and eventual decline, at Hal Roach Studios, and ending with his final years at Columbia (unfortunately we're not shown any clips of the shorts he made while there, and, oddly, while it's mentioned that he directed a number of Three Stooges shorts, the one we see a clip from, 'Disorder in the Court,' was not one of the ones he directed).
Overall, it's a great introduction to this long-forgotten and neglected comedian for those who might not already be aware of his wonderful body of work; the only downside is that there are only 5 of his shorts, whereas most of the other volumes in this Slapstick Symposium series contain more."
Charlie Chase is Tops
J.T.J., an Author | Renton, WA United States | 09/17/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Unlike many others, perhaps, I have been somewhat familiar with the work of Charley Chase the comedian, and later, the director of comedies.
This Kino DVD offers a good sampling of his silent films. All of them have been admirably restored. Each one is very funny, and reminds me again how fortunate we are that there are silent films that survived. There is something about the timing, pacing, and gag structure of silent films that make them endearing.
As I understand it, Charley became the top comic at Hal Roach studios shortly after Harold Lloyd left the studio to make independently produced films.
Charley proves he is not Lloyd, but then again, he is not like any other comedian. He was an original, and his humor holds up well. He is particularly good in situations where he must engage in subterfuge to supposedly protect someone he cares about.
I recommend the purchase of both volumes of the Charley Chase comedies. Fans of silent comedies will not be disappointed.
Incidentally, Charley Chase made many films in both the silent and sound eras until his unfortunate early death in 1940. It would be wonderful if more of his films could be discovered and restored. I would definitely buy, and take the time to watch and enjoy them. Oh yes, Charley is also known as one of the very best directors of the Three Stooges films in the late 1930s at Columbia. I believe he is the person who composed the famous alphabet song sung by the stooges in "Violent is the Word for Curly" (1938): "B-a-bee, C-a-cee, D-i-Dicky-Die, D-o Doe, Dicky Die-Doe, D-u-Due, Dicky-Die-Doe-Due.!""