Girls, Girls, Girls and they all want Charley in this once thought lost comedy.
Note: This film is extant and has been saved from obscurity but is in need of preservation. What follows are some general notes from my viewing of this picture.
The popular Charley Chase was riding high in 1927. The previous year listed him as the number one box office draw in short subjects. Theaters would frequently advertise his films along side the main feature attraction. By the time of this summer release, Chase had firmly established his screen character and many of the comic devices that kept him at the top of his game. With this in mind, he varied his role in this film a bit by playing a terribly girl shy teacher in an all girls school as opposed to his usual dapper and confident happy go lucky and good time Charley.
Joining him and hoping to cure him and lure him is an eighteen year old newcomer in her very first film role, Lupe Velez. It has been reported that she has nothing more than a bit part in this film but I am happy to divulge that is false. In fact, she is the female lead, although it isn't a very large part. She plays the dean's daughter. It is evident that Ms. Velez is confident and very capable of holding her own on screen; the camera loves her. Also included is the wonderful and sadly forgotten comedienne, Gale Henry. A personal friend of Charley Chase, he would hire her to play key roles in his films whenever he needed a skilled and particular type of comic foil. She can best be seen in his films, "A One Mama Man", "Now We'll Tell One", "Skip The Maloo", among others.
The cabin exteriors were shot in Riverside County, California. Chase and his family had a home in the San Jacinto Mountains and he knew that in winter there would be the right conditions for the sequences that take place in the snow. This cabin and the interior set used were also seen in his short, "The Caretaker's Daughter", released two years earlier. The film contains one of the earliest uses of process photography. Charley is filmed in front of a screen as he tries to run away from a girl; the background being a film does all the moving as he runs in place. This process was first used by Hal Roach Studios earlier that same year in an Our Gang short, "Seeing The World". Primitive by today's standards, it was new to audiences in 1927. Other photographic tricks were used including several optical dissolves and double exposures, enhancing Chase's nervous feelings at the sight of all the girls. Their faces fade in over other faces, his face is seen showing all his fears, more female faces dissolve in and out. This may be arguably the most photographically complicated film Chase ever made. Kudos must go to Len Powers, the photographer of the film, Richard Currier, the editor and a great nod must be paid to its director, James Parrott who was Charley's actual brother.
A prop mannequin, used to comic heights by Chase two releases earlier in "Fluttering Hearts", is brought out of retirement once again. It could be argued that since she was such a hit in the first film, audiences would remember her and be delighted to see what Charley would put himself through this time under her spell. They wouldn't be disappointed.
One of the last Hal Roach produced films released through Pathe before the new deal with Metro Goldwyn Mayer, this entry in the Charley Chase series is one of the harder to see yet not impossible to find comedies. If you do locate it, grab it and run; it's a great one.
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