IMDb > Isn't Life Terrible? (1925)

Isn't Life Terrible? (1925) More at IMDbPro »


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Release Date:
5 July 1925 (USA) See more »
Charley is plagued with failure and with his brother-in-law, who's allergic to labor. When he decides to take the family on a camping trip... See more » | Add synopsis »
User Reviews:
Life terrible? No, but this movie is. See more (8 total) »


  (in credits order) (complete, awaiting verification)

Charley Chase ... The Husband
Katherine Grant ... The Wife

Oliver Hardy ... Remington - the Brother-in-Law (as 'Babe' Hardy)
Lon Poff ... Mr. Jolly
rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Sammy Brooks ... (uncredited)
Kathleen Collins ... (uncredited)
William Gillespie ... Latin American Official (uncredited)
Charlie Hall ... Steward Who Drops Plates (uncredited)
Nancy McKee ... The Daughter (uncredited)
Jules Mendel ... (uncredited)
Dorothy Morrison ... Little Black Girl (uncredited)
George Rowe ... (uncredited)
Charles Stevenson ... Medical Officer (uncredited)
Leo Willis ... The Salesman (uncredited)

Fay Wray ... Potential Pen-Buyer (uncredited)

Directed by
Leo McCarey (uncredited)
Produced by
Hal Roach .... producer (uncredited)
Original Music by
David Drazin (musical score composed by) (2005 alternate version)
Cinematography by
Fred Jackman (uncredited)
Len Powers (uncredited)
Second Unit Director or Assistant Director
Lewis R. Foster .... assistant director (uncredited)
Music Department
David Drazin .... musical score performer (2005 alternate version)
Other crew
Hal Roach .... presenter
F. Richard Jones .... supervising director (uncredited)
Fay Wray .... in memoriam (2005 alternate version)
Crew believed to be complete

Production CompaniesDistributors

Additional Details

22 min (2005 alternate version)
Aspect Ratio:
1.33 : 1 See more »
Sound Mix:
Germany:0 | UK:U | USA:Passed (National Board of Review) | USA:TV-G (TV rating)


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2 out of 8 people found the following review useful.
Life terrible? No, but this movie is., 3 June 2008
Author: F Gwynplaine MacIntyre from Minffordd, North Wales

A consistent gimmick in American comedy films and cartoons is the practice of giving them titles that parody recent dramatic releases, even when there's no other similarity between the serious film and the comedy. Charley Chase's 1925 comedy "Isn't Life Terrible?" parodies the title of a D.W. Griffith drama from the previous year, "Isn't Life Wonderful?" ... but the two movies are otherwise dissimilar, with unrelated plots.

After some early unfunny gags involving Fay Wray and fountain pens, Charley prepares to embark on a cruise with his wife, their young daughter and his work-shy brother-in-law. The latter is played by Oliver Hardy without a moustache; regrettably, Hardy has very little to do in this movie and is given no chance to be really funny. The name of Hardy's character, Remington, is funnier than anything he does here.

Charley's little daughter (Mary Kornman) is about nine years old. Just before they board the ocean liner, Chase accidentally loses Mary and unknowingly acquires a little Negro girl about the same age (played by an uncredited child actress). There's an unpleasantly unfunny sequence in which Charley and his wife nonchalantly stroll the deck with (they think) their little daughter in tow, oblivious to the rude stares of busybodies wondering how this white couple have acquired a black daughter.

Oddly, after Chase and his wife embark with the black girl, their daughter Mary is left alone on the quay: she isn't with the black girl's parents, and they don't seem concerned with locating their own daughter. By omission, this movie manages to imply that black parents don't care about their own children as much as white parents do theirs.

I was very impressed with the personable acting of both the child actresses in this movie, making me regret that the black girl remains unidentified. She and Kornman are a couple of cute little charmers, and both of them wear fetching costumes. But the movie has a serious flaw. If this situation occurred in real life -- a child is left behind when her parents go on a trip, and another child is separated from her own parents -- the participants would be deeply concerned, and preoccupied with putting things right. In this movie, annoyingly, once Charley discovers he's got the wrong girl, he more or less treats this as a fait accompli and doesn't seem particularly concerned about Mary.

There are some gags that could have been quite funny, premised on the notion that the ocean liner is so decrepit it's literally falling apart. Charley leans on a bulkhead and it falls overboard, a lifebelt sinks, and so forth. These gags are well-done, but I kept expecting the characters to return to the problem of the swapped daughters ... which never really does become a major plot point in this ill-thought comedy. I was reminded of a similar situation in Buster Keaton's ocean-liner comedy 'The Navigator'. Keaton filmed an elaborate sequence (ultimately scrapped) that drew huge laughs from preview audiences when shown out of context as a preview trailer, but which wasn't funny when included in the complete movie ... because at that point in the story, Keaton's character had priorities that should have deterred him from this particular activity. Chase's character has a comparable conflict in "Isn't Life Terrible?", but doesn't confront it properly.

There's a brief but effective performance by Lon Poff as a "chips" (ship's carpenter) who looks like Death warmed over. I would have rated this movie about 2 points out of 10, but I'll give it an extra point -- 3 in 10 -- for the charming screen presences and acting talents of the two child actresses seen here. Don't expect to laugh much during "Isn't Life Terrible?".

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