World War I is over, and the American soldiers are boarding ships to sail for home. Pvt. Charley Chase smuggles his French girlfriend Antoinette aboard as a bag of dirty laundry while his pet monkey Napoleon manages to sneak aboard on his own. Charley and his monkey steal a soldier's uniform for Antoinette piece by piece, and then Charley sings, dances, plays the harmonica and accordion, and pulls pranks on his fellow soldiers while he should be working. The ship's doctor attempts to restore the beautiful tenor voice of a member of Charley's quartet, and Napoleon wreaks havoc by playing with the ship's controls and a cannon. Written by
An amazingly busy script, but it still is a pleasant little comedy
Charley Chase stars in this silly little Hal Roach short from 1931. The director, James Parrott, is actually Charley's brother, as 'Charley Chase' was his stage name and he was actually Charles Parrott (and is billed that way when he directed many Roach films himself).
The setting for the film is just after the end of WWI and Charley is trying to sneak both his amazingly smart pet monkey AND a beautiful French girl aboard the transport ship home. While usually you'd think trying to just sneak either of them aboard would be the basis of a comedy short, this film packs in tons of story elements--perhaps too many. That's because in addition to smuggling them aboard, there are major plots involving the restoration of a man's singing voice through surgery, quite a few musical numbers and frequent run-ins with either the captain or Charley's commanding officers. There literally is enough plot for a full-length film--not a 27 minute short like ROUGH SEAS.
Now this isn't to say this is a bad film--just a very, very busy one that might have been a bit better had there been more chance to fully develop one or two of the plots alone. But despite this, there are a decent number of laughs (though not as many as you'd find in a Laurel and Hardy flick of the day) and it's worth watching for both Thelma Todd's excellent acting as a French woman (this surprised me) and to listen to Charley's lovely singing voice (though I think he was dubbed in when they had him singing bass in one number). This was one of quite a few films in which Chase sang, so it didn't surprise me to hear him croon several catchy tunes. While he could not have made a career of singing alone, his voice was pretty good and is unexpected when you first hear him sing--you just don't expect that from a movie comedian.
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