Tuesday, June 30, 2009

DVR-TiVo-Or whatever recording device strikes your fancy-alert!

I apologize for not catching this sooner, but if you’re fortunate enough to receive TCM on Demand, you can treat yourself to the great comedy two-reeler Nurse to You! (1935) starring TDOY fave Charley Chase for a limited time (TCM’ll snatch it off their On Demand schedule July 4th). This is not only one of my favorite Chase sound shorts, but it receives beaucoup kudos from Leonard Maltin (in his invaluable The Great Movie Shorts) and Yair Solan, proprietor of the website The World of Charley Chase (from which I snatched the accompanying photo).

In Nurse, Charley plays the chief clerk for a company headed up by autocratic Clarence Wilson (the hatchet-faced old essobee from the Our Gang shorts), who refuses to allow him to take a half-hour off from work so that Charley can meet a doctor’s appointment and find out the results of an insurance physical exam he’s taken. Forced to give up his lunch period, Chase goes to the doctor (played as always with his usual aplomb by Billy Gilbert) but since he’s mistaken for another patient (a decrepit old geezer named “Chase”) he’s told he only has six months to live. Despondent over this news, he sadly makes his way back to his office when he gets a dressing-down from a traffic cop (Ben Taggart)—and as Gilbert’s words reverberate through his head, Charley not only tells off the cop, but his boss as well! It’s only when Mrs. Chase (Muriel Evans) returns home and learns of Charley’s “malady” that everything gets straightened out; in fact, not only does the boss not fire our hero—he promotes him for finally showing some backbone!

Granted, the plot in this short isn’t entirely original—but it serves as an excellent example of prime character comedy and contains some real rib-tickling gags (check out how Charley “shares” a newspaper and shoeshine). It’s also a marvelous showcase to present the neglected comic genius with one of his most sympathetic roles (I worship Chase, but sometimes his characters in the sound shorts come off as a tad obnoxious). Chase made a similar comedy in his silent days entitled The Fraidy Cat (1924), in which he plays the “coward of the county” who only discovers his gumption when he’s convinced he doesn’t have long to live. (This entertaining one-reeler boasts the casting novelty of having the neighborhood children who taunt Charley played by some of the then-Our Gangers, including Mickey Daniels and Joe Cobb.)

Update: The aforementioned Mr. Solan sent me a message via Facebook that a few other individuals are reporting The Chases of Pimple Street (1934) is also showing on TCM On Demand this week. I didn't see it in my lineup but it's possible that it may be accessible only to Bombast subscribers. Still, as Yair points out: "2 Chase talkies on demand...what a darb!"

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

The title of "nurse whatever: reminded me of a British series from the fifties(?) with all the titles beginning with "Carry On". Does that ring a bell for you?

Me again, Margaret and I still can't remember my user name and password.

Ivan G. Shreve, Jr. said...

I hear your bell ringing loud and clear -- there was a mega-popular series of British films known as the Carry On series, and I've cobbled together a list (thanks to Wikipedia):

Carry On Sergeant (1958)
Carry On Nurse (1959)
Carry On Teacher (1959)
Carry On Constable (1960)
Carry On Regardless (1961)
Carry On Cruising (1962)
Carry On Cabby (1963)
Carry On Jack (1963)
Carry On Spying (1964)
Carry On Cleo (1964)
Carry On Cowboy (1965)
Carry On Screaming (1966)
Carry On Don't Lose your Head (1966)
Carry On Follow That Camel (1967)
Carry On Doctor (1968)
Carry On Up The Khyber (1968)
Carry On Camping (1969)
Carry On Again Doctor (1969)
Carry On Up The Jungle (1970)
Carry On Loving (1970)
Carry On Henry (1971)
Carry On at Your Convenience (1971)
Carry On Matron (1972)
Carry On Abroad (1972)
Carry On Girls (1973)
Carry On Dick (1974)
Carry On Behind (1975)
Carry On England (1976)
That's Carry On! (1977)
Carry On Emmannuelle (1978)
Carry On Columbus (1992)

Anonymous said...

Wow! That's an impressive run. At most, I saw two or three of them.

I'll bet you'd also be able to provide a list of the Bowery Boys movies. I think I saw more than a handful of those. All my buddies enjoyed them as much as I.

Jim