The Sunday Intertitle: Give Chase a Chance

This intertitle, from the Charley Chase-Leo McCarey short HIS WOODEN WEDDING, strikes me as the greatest achievement of western civilisation. Of course, by tomorrow I may have a new favourite… Seems likely the whole film grew from this one pun, since it’s the most “logical”, compact and perfect aspect of the movie. Getting to the line requires considerable ingenuity upon McCarey’s part, and considerable suspension of disbelief for the audience.

Charley is about to be wed when his malicious rival slips him a note —

Two funny things — the insanity of the rival’s scheme, and the fatuous signature “A FRIEND.” Plot contrivances pile up like rugby players, eventually convincing Charley that the note speaks true.

Charley immediately imagines what married life will be like a few years hence, in this Nightmare Vision of the Future —

All Charley’s clan have Long John Silver peg-legs (his wife still looks quite normal, but Charley isn’t taken in by that).

Even Buddy the dog gets in on the act. (Yay, Buddy!)

It’s getting so that a Chase film without an appearance from Buddy leads to disappointment as inevitably as a film with Jeffrey Hunter in it. The only acceptable substitute is Josephine the monkey. I long to see Chase’s Tarzan spoof, NATURE IN THE WRONG, because it has a great title, because the idea of Chase as Tarzan is very fine, because it features Charles Gemora as a gorilla and James Finlayson as the voice of a lion, and because Josephine must surely turn up somewhere in there. (Plot: “Charlie receives a letter from a company in Texas telling him he’s related to Tarzan.”)

I recollect a gag very similar  to the peg-leg family in The Simpsons when Aunt Selma is contemplating marriage to the short-sighted Hans Moleman. Her imagination conjures a room full of myopic kids, stampeding around, crashing into each other and the furniture. I seem to recall one toppling out the window. All in a shot just few seconds long.

(I think the swipe is perfectly allowable, even if deliberate, and I’ve unconsciously pilfered from The Simpsons myself so I’m in no position to throw stones…)

Next week I really will write about Max Linder…

16 Responses to “The Sunday Intertitle: Give Chase a Chance”

  1. Paul Duane Says:

    I’ve just discovered I’ve owned this for years – on the Retour de Flamme Charley Chase DVD – but have never watched it. It looks unmissable.

  2. The good bits are superb — it’s not ALL so good, but it’s overall very strong. I’d put it near the ranks of Mighty Like a Moose and Dog Shy. Just saw Crazy Like a Fox, which has some very nice funny/disturbing mock insanity stuff, but rather fizzles out. Needed a subplot.

  3. David, I agree, the funny bits are VERY funny in HIS WOODEN WEDDING. I must see more Chase.

    Just saw William Wyler’s A HOUSE DIVIDED with Walter Houston. The greatest Houston performance I’d never heard of, and, after KONGO, his second as a brute in a wheelchair. Amazing film.

  4. It’s very good. Another movie with the underrated and unusual Kent Douglass AKA Douglass Montgomery.

  5. Douglass has a unique intensity. I had just seen him a few months ago in Little Man, What Now?

  6. That’s a very good one, as is Waterloo Bridge. His last movie, Forbidden, is a little British potboiler, but he’s excellent in it.

  7. Jenny Eardley Says:

    Hooray, you made it to thisisnthappiness again! It is a spectacular intertitle.

  8. […] background-position: 50% 0px; background-color:#0f043e; background-repeat : no-repeat; } dcairns.wordpress.com – Today, 2:50 […]

  9. Tony Williams Says:

    Decades ago, my late uncle who grew up in the silent era was excited about a TV series starring Charley Chase appearing until it was pointed out to him that it was “The New Adventures of Charley Chan” starring J. Carroll Naish. CC did appear at the opening of “The Golden Age of Comedy” but I’ve had to wait decades to see his work. Even his short appearance in SONS OF THE DESERT reveals how great a comedian he really was.

  10. The This Isn’t Happiness post has vanished! Ah, how fleeting is fame! (Just ask Charley.)

    It’s a good thing your Uncle didn’t live to see the new Charley Chase, a female porn star. Although one of her titles, “Wrestle, You Sluts”, does sound kind of like a XXX Hal Roach comedy.

  11. Paul Duane Says:

    Or like a sequel to Guy Maddin’s Sissy Boy Slap Party.

  12. Christopher Says:

    has anyone come across a copy of Chase’s “Limousine Love”?It was a real gut buster in Youngson’s FOUR CLOWNS -1970..as is the clips form “Movie Night” at the beginning of When Comedy Was King..

  13. I’ll have a look in my old VHS heap… TCM showed dozens of Chase films one night about ten years ago and I got a stateside friend to record them.

  14. No sign of those two, but I did find four more films, including a McCarey…

  15. Christopher Says:

    the more I hear about Limousine Love,the more I need to see it complete,Its not lost and been seen by a few .A release of Robert Youngson’s Four Clowns with the shortened version seems more likely to get a release before the actual short does….Charley driving to his wedding with a nude girl hiding in his car all this and Bull Montana too..gotta like it.

  16. […] The Sunday Intertitle: Give Chase a Chance – Apparently, when Selma imagines what her kids by Hans Moleman would be like in “Selma’s Choice”, it was based off an old silent movie where a guy imagines what his family would look like if he married a woman with a wooden leg.  I did not know that.  Cool. […]

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