Charley Chase has some immensely loyal fans who will tolerate no criticism of their idol. Yet his work is highly variable, and I hardly ever laugh at Chase's work. In his very best movies, such as 'Mighty Like a Moose' or 'His Wooden Wedding', I find myself impressed with Chase's professionalism rather than inspired to laughter. And Chase's worst comedies are, let's face it, very bad indeed.
I had high hopes for 'Is Marriage the Bunk?', not because of the outdated slang in its title but because of the directorial credit for the great Leo McCarey. He must have helmed this movie on an off day. Quite a few silent two-reel comedies -- not usually Chase's, though -- were effectively structured like a pair of one-reelers: two completely unrelated plots in the first and second halves, linked by some glib title cards and some pick-up shots. This two-reeler has that feel: it starts out being about one thing, then suddenly becomes about something else.
Mrs Romaine Dressing (is she from the Thousand Islands?) has two daughters, Sapho (oh, dear) and Sappie. Sapho has married a wealthy successful husband who's just bought a new car. Sappie is married to Charley. A title card identifies him as 'an entertainer', but his act apparently consists of imitating Charlie Chaplin ... a piece of business which was very hokey indeed by 1925. Right; I realise that Charley's character here is meant to be a BAD entertainer. Still, it's deeply depressing to see Chase -- a talented comedian in his own right, but one very unlike Chaplin -- attempting an inept imitation of the Little Tramp. Chase and Chaplin had worked together at Keystone in 1914 -- you can see Chase in Chaplin's 'The Masquerader' -- so it saddened and maddened me to see Chase reduced to doing bad Tramp imitations.
There's potentially a funny plot here, with feckless Chase constantly being shown up by his wealthier and un-feckless (fecked?) brother-in-law. Just when we think this is going somewhere, the plot changes. Turns out that Charley has a job after all: something to do with an office, and his boss MUST deliver some cash to the bank in a few minutes. Charley offers to save the day. We have here some potential for a thrill comedy in the style of Harold Lloyd; in fact, Lloyd's 'Feet First' used a similar premise. Speaking of feet: that must be why Chase interrupts his race against time for some unfunny business getting his corns treated by a podiatrist. Why is he doing this when he's aware of his boss's situation?
It looks like Charley is going to be the hero after all, until his flivver breaks down. Will his brother-in-law help him? Damned if I know. This low-budget comedy seems to be cobbled together from several unrelated fragments. I didn't laugh once.
I was pleasantly surprised to see Marie Mosquini's name in the opening credits -- she usually worked with Snub Pollard, not Chase -- so I was disappointed that she played neither of Mrs Dressing's daughters. She shows up very briefly in Charley's boss's office. The brunette Mosquini had dark exotic looks which were very unusual for her time; unlike many other pretty actresses of the 1920s, Mosquini still looks quite pretty (sexy, even) by the tastes of modern audiences. Interestingly, silent-film actress Mosquini married electrical engineer Lee De Forrest, who was actively involved in the development of talking pictures.
It's too bad that Mosquini appears for only a few seconds in this movie. I regretfully rate this one only 2 out of 10. Chase, McCarey and all concerned have done better elsewhere.
1 of 2 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?