Saturday, May 30, 2009

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

If you have the misfortune to subscribe to the now bankrupt CharredHer Cable service, occasionally a small beam of sunlight will manage to waft its way down and illuminate your otherwise dreary cable-watching existence. I’m speaking of, of course, the fact that CharredHer does offer up free movies and shorts on their TCM on Demand service, and from now until June 6th, they’re running the 1932 Charley Chase two-reeler Mr. Bride.

I taped/watched this one this afternoon and while it’s certainly no Chase classic, the comedian himself does provide some amusing facial expressions and other physical bits of comic bidness (though fairly limited) as a social secretary accompanying his boss (Del Henderson, who you may remember as the harried gentleman taking charge of the “orphaned” Our Gang in Choo-Choo! [1932]) on a “honeymoon,” with Henderson ordering Charley to play the role of Henderson’s soon-to-be bride (Muriel Evans). This weak, one-joke premise basically repeats the same gags over and over again (people do double-takes when Charley is introduced as “Mrs. Henderson”) and the gay subtext here is about as subtle as a sledgehammer to the forehead. Still, it does provide an interesting example of what filmmaker Robert Youngson meant when he once described Chase’s presence onscreen as “one long embarrassing moment.”

Monday (June 1), Turner Classic Movies kicks off its all-month Directors Salute and because Leo McCarey is first up at bat, the channel will feature three silent Chase shorts beginning at 6:00am—Innocent Husbands (1925), Be Your Age (1928) and Dog Shy (1926). Age is the only one of the three I have not seen; the other two are available on Kino’s The Charley Chase Collection: Volume 2. Shy is certain worth a glance, but Husbands is one of my favorite Chase silent outings: a standard cheese-it-I’ve-got-a-strange-woman-in-my-room-and-the-wife’s-on-her-way-up vehicle that features some hilarious throwaway bits. But later on the schedule—right after McCarey’s Duck Soup (1933)—TCM will show Soup and Fish (1934), a Thelma Todd-Patsy Kelly comedy that features our heroines crashing a high society party and sticking out like the proverbial turd in a punchbowl.

These announcements are regularly presented here at Thrilling Days of Yesteryear as a public service to like-minded fans of Charley Chase, Thelma Todd & Patsy Kelly, and the other hard-working clowns from the Hal Roach Studio who kept audiences in convulsions during the 1930s. No money has exchanged hands. (Shucks, I can’t even get a notebook!)

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