"The Four Star Boarder" is a sprightly and extremely fun two-reeler from the later end of Charley Chase's time as a headliner at the Hal Roach Studios, when he was playing more domestic roles. This one feels very opened-up; the funny situation sounds complex but we get it quite quickly (Charley's bride's aunt has lots of money for them, but thinks she has married her previous boyfriend, so Charley disguises himself as their boarder), and then Charley can let loose pulling laughs creatively from all aspects of the situation.
He really uses his performance for comedy purposes well here, letting loose and indulging in parody of broad melodrama, and deriving a lot of mileage from little moments and his reactions to his insufferable aunt-in-law. Her obnoxiousness is just extreme enough not to be unbelievable and his great material too. Probably the best sequence is almost a montage, sweeping through the practical jokes and one-upsmanship Charley deploys on his aunt when they are left alone in the house together. A great visual gag is how he and Felix very casually climb out their windows to change rooms secretly for the night. A later sequence with Charley pretending to be a radio announcer is still fun but doesn't work quite as well.
This short has all the plot elements of one of Charley Chase's dazzlingly tight mini-farces, but moves as a jaunty pace that allows it to dwell wherever some laughs are -- almost as if he has decided to take a more relaxed, casual approach to putting together a comedy short. That carefree feeling of relaxation translates to the viewer. As such it's not Chase's most artful or memorable comedy, but it's undeniably a funny one, and a joyful way to spend twenty minutes.
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