|Index||3 reviews in total|
This is another good, solid entry from that master of the two-reel
comedy short, Charley Chase. This one isn't the number-on best
constructed comedy in the series, but it is pure good-mood-generating
fun from start to finish, and that's good enough for me! It starts with
some very funny scenes involving Charley trying fool a principled
English ash-collector into taking his ashes late, then stumbling into a
job as an "interior decorator" and overdressing for the paint-intensive
work. It's classic Chase comedy of errors and embarrassment.
Billy Gilbert gets a larger role here and he makes a good impression as his German "Mr Schmaltz" persona. Gilbert was a perfect supporting player to enhance a short, but was always too hammy to have much success starring in one. He's got a fake Oliver Hardy-style moustache on here, and in the second reel he and Charley get to engage in the sort of deliberate, measured slapstick that Laurel and Hardy specialized in around the business of painting a table, and it works very well. Charley also doesn't resist throwing in his very good Billy Gilbert impression! Charley Chase's comedies -- the sound ones especially -- were always very musical, and "Luncheon at Twelve" is a good example, with the clever business of Charley's distracted painting matching the rhythm of the music from the other room. He also sings a very fun blackface-style song (supplied with white-lips makeup by a mishap with the paint), which provides the enjoyable if abrupt ending. This is a good one, lacking none of the infectious fun that the Charley Chase talkies are so memorable for.
Luncheon at Twelve (1933)
** 1/2 (out of 4)
Decent two-reeler finds an unemployed Charlie Chase getting a job with the father (Billy Gilbert) of a girl (Betty Mack) that he's fallen for. At first Chase thinks he's gotten a job at an interior decorator but it turns out he's just a painter and not a very good one. LUNCHEON AT TWELVE is one of the many shorts that Chase made with Hal Roach at MGM. While this film certainly isn't a classic, it at least has enough laughs to make it worth sitting through if you're a fan of the underrated star. I think the first half of the picture is the best as it mainly deals with Chase trying to get the ash collector to take his bucket of ashes. This leads to Chase trying to dump his bucket on various other lawns hoping that the collector will take it and this here gets the majority of the jokes. The second half of the picture isn't nearly as good as we get into some rather routine comedy bits. The most annoying is a rich woman trying to get everyone to be quiet so that a violinist can play his music. The "comedy" from the painting comes from Chase simply not being very good at it and not paying attention to what he's painting. Again, this here is far from a classic but fans of Chase should find enough humor to make it worth viewing.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This 21-minute short begins as a slapstick farce, and degenerates into a musical variety show, at about the point when newbie painter Charley Chase is brushed by his coworkers with "White Face," and starts wailing in a Jolson-like voice to echo THE JAZZ SINGER. It is never explained WHY a high society lady would summon a Three Stooges-like crew to whitewash her dining table while her luncheon party is in progress. However, since all the palm trees in the background indicate this story is set in Hollywood, where citizens are dumber than cacti, I suppose anything goes. Charley Chase wears glasses here, apparently hoping to evoke Harold Lloyd's wimpy-looking "Glasses" character, which was all the rage a decade earlier. Unfortunately for the viewer, Chase lacks Lloyd's charisma, daring-do, and smarts, if LUNCHEON AT TWELVE is a representative sample of his work.
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