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Charley
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Al Hallett
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Comedy | Short

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18 January 1925 (USA)  »

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1.33 : 1
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A miracle!
24 December 2009 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

By the time of "Hello Baby!" Charley Chase has arrived at a point where he has found almost a formula for making varied and wonderful comedies fit into the short tel-minute format of the one-reelers he was working in. A surprising big event precipitates a series of progressively frustrating and excruciating situations for Charley. In this short this works extremely well, complimented by some of Charley's top-rung gags.

We start with a very clever and filmically stylish gag in which an atmospheric shot of Charley as safecracker becomes Charley as sneaking home late and turning on the radio. The baby is deposited on the door of the young couple -- who are humorously shown later to have no idea what to do with a baby (do babies eat lobster?) -- and there's a great moment where Charley's declaration that he will protect the little girl is undermined by an anatomical examination of the baby. The frustrations of people trying to get a baby to sleep and trying to get to the doctor in the middle of the night are great to mine for material, and the ten minutes are jammed with humor that moves fast and still doesn't feel rushed.

We also get to see Charley actually run over by the car in the course of a very funny mechanical gag sequence, and frequent cutaways of Katherine Grant, very funny as Charley's wife -- trying to entertain the crying child with a one-woman acrobatics show. There's a sweet final moment where Charley finally has some success and invents the baby bottle by himself.

These one-reelers could easily become trivial, but by filming "Hello Baby!" with great, varied, and well timed material, and producing it in a visually-impressive way that shows a great deal of care has been taken, Chase as the team at Roach Studios prevent this. This is the early one-reel-era Chase in fine form, recommended both for his fans and the unconverted.


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