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The Chaser (1928)

 |  Comedy  |  12 February 1928 (USA)
6.0
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Ratings: 6.0/10 from 60 users  
Reviews: 9 user | 2 critic

A wife, tired of her husband's non-stop carousing, sues him for divorce. The judge, however, comes up with a novel solution--he makes the husband take his wife's place in the household--... See full summary »

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, (titles) (as A.H. Giebler) , 4 more credits »
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Cast

Cast overview:
...
...
The Wife
Helen Hayward ...
The Wife's Mother
Bud Jamison ...
The Husband's Buddy
Charles Thurston ...
The Judge
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Storyline

A wife, tired of her husband's non-stop carousing, sues him for divorce. The judge, however, comes up with a novel solution--he makes the husband take his wife's place in the household--including dressing like her--for 30 days to see what it's like to be his wife. Written by frankfob2@yahoo.com

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

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Harry's latest model of mirth---geared to the road of roaring romance! He's out for fun---chasing the blues and sowing enough wild oats to keep the whole world well-fed with fun. He goes tumbling into a ton of trouble and a mess of matrimonial mixups that will give you more laughs than any one picture this season See more »

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Comedy

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Release Date:

12 February 1928 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

O Conquistador  »

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1.33 : 1
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User Reviews

 
Watch, if you dare, as a baby-faced man in drag commits career suicide
20 June 2007 | by (Westchester County, NY) – See all my reviews

Harry Langdon was a uniquely gifted silent clown with a style all his own. A number of the short comedies he made for Mack Sennett in the mid-1920s retain their quirky charm, and the first couple of features he appeared in still hold up quite well, but as soon as Harry took over the reins and started producing and directing his own movies he fumbled the job and managed to wreck his career with dizzying speed. Three's a Crowd, Langdon's first solo job, took a decent premise and squandered it through awkward timing, weak gags, and sticky sentimentality, but his second self-produced effort The Chaser makes its predecessor look like a masterpiece. This time, Harry took a story idea that was wrong-headed and distasteful from the start and created a movie that is just about impossible to enjoy.

The introductory title cards suggest that this is going to be a battle of the sexes comedy with a male bias, i.e. the Innocent Husband versus those Unreasonable Harpies who make his life hell. Other comedians have been known to venture into this dicey territory occasionally and create something worthwhile (think of Laurel & Hardy, Charley Chase, W. C. Fields, etc.) but Harry's first mistake here was to stack the deck so thoroughly in his own favor. We're commanded to feel sorry for him from the get-go. During the film's opening sequence Harry's wife and mother-in-law take turns chewing him out over the phone, while he sits motionless, listening. The poor guy's crime, it turns out, is that he's been staying out at his lodge every night until 8:30 and the womenfolk are furious. Isn't that just like a woman, being so unfair? Once he comes home the situation escalates alarmingly between Harry and his mother-in-law, however, to the point where she becomes crazed and pulls a gun on him. All three principles wind up in court, but Harry gets all the blame and is slapped with a truly weird sentence by the judge. Get this: in order to "realize his responsibilities" as a husband, Harry must stay at home in a dress for 30 days doing housework while his wife dons men's clothing and goes off to some unspecified office to be the breadwinner.

Okay, no one should expect gender issue 'correctness' from a comedy made in 1928, but this is just bizarre. And it gets worse: although Harry's emasculation consists of little more than being forced to make breakfast for his gruff, male-attired wife (admittedly while he's wearing a skirt), his misery is emphasized at the expense of any humor. When Harry sadly looks outside, the barred window he's gazing through is clearly meant to resemble that of a jail-house. Oh, but there's naughty comedy relief to perk things along: every peddler, milkman and ice man who appears at the door instantly assumes that Harry is the lady of the house -- although he looks like his usual self from the waist up -- and makes a pass at him. Yuck! Before long, naturally enough, Harry is ready to end it all and attempts suicide, but instead of taking poison he accidentally takes cod liver oil. After he races to the toilet the camera lingers for a very long moment on the darkened hallway, giving us lots of time to ponder the physical effect of the laxative. Is it my imagination, or has our auteur lost his hold on the average viewer by this point? And it gets even worse! When Harry's wife comes home she mistakenly believes that her husband has actually killed himself, and the camera lingers on a seemingly endless close-up of the woman as she sobs miserably, making her mascara run. I guess the mascara smeared under her eyes was supposed to get a laugh.

Along about this point I think Mr. Langdon must have recognized that his movie was sinking fast, so he turned the second half into a retread of one of his best Sennett comedies, Saturday Afternoon. Rotund Bud Jamison (filling in for rotund Vernon Dent) shows up, rescues Harry from his drudgery, gets him back into manly slacks and takes him off to the golf course. It's a relief to us all, but the ensuing routines feel uninspired and a little desperate. And then, to demonstrate that wearing that skirt didn't turn him into a sissy, Harry encounters some girls frolicking in a park, kisses a few at random and makes them swoon. How? Why? By this point it doesn't much matter. Towards the end, when Harry's car plummets down a slope he crashes through a billboard advertising a movie called "Over the Hill," but the gag takes on an unhappy double meaning as we consider the trajectory of our star comedian's career.

The nicest thing I can say in conclusion is that Langdon's failures are just as quirky and off-the-wall as his successes, but his successes sure are a lot more fun. After seeing this misfire you'll want to rush back to The Strong Man to remind yourself how Harry Langdon earned his reputation as a great clown in the first place.


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