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Long Fliv the King (1926)

Passed | | Short, Comedy | 13 June 1926 (USA)
This offbeat comedy from future Hollywood screwball director McCarey is about a princess who must find a husband in 24 hours or forfeit her throne. She quickly marries a condemned man--but the man is pardoned.

Director:

Leo McCarey

Writer:

H.M. Walker (titles)
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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Charley Chase ... Charles Chase
Martha Sleeper ... Princess Helga of Thermosa
Max Davidson ... Warfield
Oliver Hardy ... The Prime Minister's Assistant
Fred Malatesta ... Hamir of Uvocado - the Prime Minister
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Storyline

A princess, in America on a shopping trip, receives a telegram that her father has died, and she will be the new Queen, but only if she gets married within 24 hours. Figuring it is safe, she marries a man about to be executed... Written by John Oswalt <jao@jao.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Short | Comedy

Certificate:

Passed | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

13 June 1926 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Vive le roi See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Hal Roach Studios See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Silent

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Connections

Remake of His Royal Slyness (1920) See more »

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User Reviews

 
Charley Chase in a highly enjoyable, fast-paced comedy
22 January 2002 | by wmorrow59See all my reviews

Of all the top silent film comics it was Charley Chase who never received the widespread attention and respect he deserved, either during his lifetime or posthumously. Chaplin was famous almost from the moment his movie career began, Harold Lloyd was a box office champion, Harry Langdon was a critics' darling, audiences loved Laurel & Hardy, and Buster Keaton lived just long enough to enjoy latter-day recognition, but somehow Charley's ship never really came in. Unlike many of his peers Chase had a steady, successful talkie career, and kept working until his untimely death in 1940. His gifts as a first-rate performer, director, and writer were valued behind the scenes in Hollywood, and put him in the upper echelon of his profession in the world of short comedy production, but this back-lot status didn't translate into the kind of fame Chaplin or Lloyd enjoyed. Today Chase is appreciated by a small core of devoted fans who recognize his talent, but his best work is not as accessible as it should be.

Chase's talkies are generally pleasant and a few of them are terrific, but for my money his best work was done in the silent two-reel format at the Hal Roach Studios between 1925 and 1929. Some of his movies from that period are practically perfect little gems of comedy construction. Long Fliv the King, which was released in June of 1926, offers Chase working at the top of his game. As a performer, he comes off rather like a 1920s version of Dick Van Dyke: a tall and handsome leading man type as opposed to the dwarfish grotesque (like Snub Pollard or Ben Turpin) one often finds in silent comedies. The gags are clever, plentiful, and smoothly executed. There's even a plot, a play on the mythical kingdom theme which was so popular in the period after the Great War. My only problem with Long Fliv the King is its title, a strained pun which today looks like a typo. In the '20s a "Flivver" was a Model-T Ford, so we can assume that "to Fliv" was to drive a car, but cars don't really figure much in the proceedings here, so what were they thinking?

At any rate, the basic story is similar to that of Harold Lloyd's 1920 short His Royal Slyness, and similar for that matter to a number of comedies in which an innocent American expatriate somehow becomes King. Lloyd's movie had the catchier title, but Chase's is my favorite of the two; Lloyd's story gets off to a slow start due to more complicated exposition, and is also burdened with wordy, pun-filled title cards, but Chase's story takes off like a rocket and whips through the exposition, moving almost as fast as a Keystone comedy. Chase also has the more colorful supporting cast, including a deliciously hammy Oliver Hardy, beady-eyed Fred Malatesta, the giant John Aasen (so memorable as Lloyd's comic foil in Why Worry?), cute-as-a-bug Martha Sleeper as the Princess, and, best of all, Max Davidson as sidekick "Warfield." Davidson, who starred in his own series of comedies for Roach at the end of the silent era, played the sort of stereotypical Jewish figure who tends to make audiences squirm in our P.C.-sensitive era, but his characterization here is quite benign. As far as I'm concerned he's charming, and just about steals the show. Typical gag: Max acts as Charley's food taster, but when the main course turns out to be ham, he reacts with consternation, shrugs, and indicates that Charley will just have to take his chances. You may or may not find that funny, but it strikes me as a rather innocuous gag for its time.

This short isn't easy to find nowadays, but collectors who were lucky enough to acquire 8mm or 16mm sound prints of Long Fliv the King from Blackhawk Films back in the '70s can enjoy the added bonus of a truly strange musical score added by the folks at the company. I bought a print back then and initially didn't much care for the music, but after screening it again recently I've changed my mind, and now feel that it complements the action nicely, the way Carl Stallings' music suits Bugs Bunny. Now if someone could only release more of Charley Chase's best work into the video/DVD market. Who holds the rights to these films?

P.S. Spring of 2005: I'm pleased to add that in the interim since I wrote this piece a number of Charley Chase's silent comedies have become available on DVD, including Long Fliv the King. There are two collections of Chase's silent shorts now being offered, and a few more titles have appeared in various editions of the Roach Studio series called The Lost Films of Laurel & Hardy. This is a happy development, and I don't mean to sound ungrateful, but how about the Charley Chase talkies? Someone is still sitting on a lot of great material!


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