Jimmy Jump, still in training to become Charley Chase
This one-reel comedy is one of Charley Chase's early starring efforts at the Hal Roach Studio, made when his screen character was known as "Jimmy Jump." Some of the Jimmy Jump shorts have a crazy cartoon-ish quality, while others (such as Hard Knocks) feel like dress rehearsals for the more realistic but often delightful two-reel situation comedies Chase would appear in under his own name, in which he usually played a dapper young gent who somehow gets himself into unlikely, complicated, and deeply embarrassing situations.
In this outing, Charley -- or Jimmy, rather -- is a lowly office clerk afraid to speak up to his boss. The boss also happens to be the father of Helen, the girl he loves. When Jimmy's rival, a burly co-worker, gets angry about his measly paycheck, he barges into the boss' office, demands a raise, and receives it on the spot. But when Jimmy, whose salary is considerably lower than that of his rival, attempts to do the same thing he can't even follow through. Both men are invited to Helen's party. When Jimmy is puzzled about what "R.S.V.P." means the rival wickedly misinforms him: "Riding Suits Very Proper." So Jimmy shows up in a rented riding outfit, and although he looks quite natty to our eyes this is clearly a social faux pas at a party where everyone else wears evening dress. Jimmy contrives to switch clothes with the butler (played by Noah Young, familiar from Harold Lloyd's comedies), but this only compounds an already embarrassing situation. As it happens, the butler is a very large man, and when Jimmy is called upon to recite before the assembled guests his trousers begin to slip. On top of that, his shirt-front repeatedly pops up in his face. This is a classic Charley Chase routine, very much the sort of thing he'd develop further and perfect in later years.
In the final sequence we realize the rival is a scoundrel when he sets out to rob the company safe. Jimmy catches him in the act and a fight ensues. This climax is played straight, and although we're never really in doubt about the outcome the scene is surprisingly intense and suspenseful. (Impressive camera work, too). Eventually everything is squared away and we're left with a couple of cute wrap-up gags, and the film is over in a brisk ten minutes. It's a nice little short, and serves as something of a Coming Attractions trailer for the great two-reel comedies Charley Chase would soon produce.
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