Charley needs $10,000 right away. Mrs. Schwartzkopple has inherited $2 million from her late husband and wants to marry a younger man. Mr. Blaylock, her attorney, sees a way to solve both ... See full summary »

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(uncredited)
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Cast

Complete credited cast:
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Charley - the Bashful Clerk
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The Widow's Secretary
Lillian Leighton ...
Mrs. Schwartzkopple
Frank Brownlee ...
Mr. Blaylock
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Oswald Schwartzkopple
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Storyline

Charley needs $10,000 right away. Mrs. Schwartzkopple has inherited $2 million from her late husband and wants to marry a younger man. Mr. Blaylock, her attorney, sees a way to solve both their problems, and keep control of her $2 million. Written by Anonymous

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Genres:

Short | Comedy

Certificate:

Passed | See all certifications »
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Release Date:

14 November 1926 (USA)  »

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Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Charley Chase is a mild-mannered Romeo in this mild-mannered comedy
18 November 2006 | by (Westchester County, NY) – See all my reviews

At his best Charley Chase could take a basic story situation and develop it into a string of memorable comic set-pieces, usually based on embarrassment or anxiety. Often he's under severe pressure to achieve his goal: he must race to the train station in time to pick up an important package, or pose as a servant to retrieve an incriminating letter. Sometimes he seeks true love, and has to convince his girl's family that he's acceptable suitor, or else convince the family of the girl he DOESN'T want that he's NOT acceptable. Whatever the challenge, Charley usually throws himself into his latest project with vigor. Be Your Age feels like a lesser effort because it stretches this basic premise out of shape, and substitutes one that doesn't work as well. The first problem here is that Charley's initial crisis, the one that motivates all his subsequent behavior, is nonsensical; second, in order to solve his problem he takes a course of action that reflects badly on himself; and finally, he is highly reluctant to achieve his goal. We could forgive all of that if the gags were hilarious, but unfortunately in this film much of the material feels uninspired.

Charley plays a bashful clerk in a law office. It's established early on that his family is in desperate need of $10,000, but the reason we're given (as stated in a letter from home) is deliberately exaggerated for comic effect. It gets a laugh, but it's too silly. Chase's best comedies are reality-based, but this short lacks that grounding. Next, Charley is tricked into accepting a loan from his boss which comes with a rather startling condition: in return for the money, Charley must marry one of the firm's clients, a wealthy widow who seeks a young husband. The lady, Mrs. Schwartzkopple by name, appears to be about twenty years Charley's senior and is hefty, and she has a spoiled son named Oswald who is about Charley's age. She also has a cute female secretary who catches Charley's eye. Charley attends a house party at Mrs. Schwartzkopple's home where he tries to swallow his distaste for the situation and woo her.

That's the plot. Usually Chase could take an unpromising premise like this one and make it work, but in this case those great comic set-pieces we're expecting never quite develop. Nothing much happens, and we're left with a number of scenes where the humor is largely based on Charley's queasiness over having to court this stout older woman. When her son Oswald appears it's a boost to see that he's played by the young Oliver Hardy, and we expect fireworks between this spoiled rich kid and his mother's callow suitor . . . but again, nothing much comes of it. Chase's comedies often featured funny dance sequences, and in this film he disguises himself in drag as a Spanish flamenco dancer, complete with a rose in his teeth. It's a highlight, but the scene comes a bit late and feels a little desperate.

Be Your Age has its moments, but it isn't an ideal introduction to this great, under-appreciated comedian. If you're looking for a good Charley Chase comedy I'd suggest Innocent Husbands or Limousine Love, to get a better sense of what Charley could do when he was really cooking with gas.


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