Most of the Paul Parrott comedies I've seen feel like live-action cartoons, the kind of surreal cartoons that dispense with any pretense of a linear story and just leap from one crazy gag to the next. Parrott himself usually comes off as a clownish and unreal character, an indestructible man who can fall ten stories off a building and then jump up and run away, just like Larry Semon or Ben Turpin. Comedy of that variety can be enjoyable in brief doses, but a little goes a long way. That's why I found this particular Paul Parrott short, For Safe Keeping, such a pleasant surprise. This time the lead comic is a semi-realistic character, a guy with an ordinary job who lives in an ordinary apartment. There's a plot that makes sense: our hero is entrusted with an important task and, after various misadventures, manages to come out on top. There's even a fairly suspenseful climax. Basically, this film looks very much like the "Jimmy Jump" comedies Paul's brother Charley Chase would start making about a year later with considerable success. Paul and Charley resembled each other very closely at this point in their lives, and it's no surprise to learn that when For Safe Keeping was shown on German TV it was misidentified as part of Charley's output.
Paul plays a fellow who works in an office and flirts with the brunette secretary. When he attempts to light a cigar, he sets his pants on fire. Despite his accident-prone nature his employer trusts him to take a satchel full of money across town to deposit it in a bank. Naturally, he's comically paranoid that everyone he meets on the street intends to steal the money. His paranoia increases when he finds that the bank has already closed for the day, and he's unable to return the money to his office. When he takes the satchel back to his apartment every knock at the door strikes more fear into his heart. Eventually, Paul reports to the local police station and demands to be locked up, for his own safety. Unfortunately, his cell is occupied by three convicts already planning a jailbreak. They force Paul to join them, first in their breakout and then in a burglary. Their target? Paul's own office!
For Safe Keeping is only a one-reel short, but it packs enough gags and amusing incidents for two. Definitely one of the best Paul Parrott shorts I've seen, and intriguing because it's so much like a blueprint for Charley Chase's later work. Chase was director general at the Hal Roach Studio when this short was made there, and surely must have seen his brother's films. This short may very well have influenced the course of Charley's subsequent career.
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