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Charley Chase




Hal Roach Studios, 1929.  Directed by Lewis Foster.  With Charley Chase, Eugenia Gilbert, Edith Fellows, Spec O'Donnell, Tiny Sandford, Harry Semels, Anita Garvin, Symona Boniface, Charlie Hall, Jack Hill, Sam Lufkin.

A family goes on its weekly outing to the movies, but the evening is hampered by an attempt to pass the wife's brother off as a child, a crowded theater, and the daughter's apparently contagious case of the hiccups.

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Many comedians from the golden age of film made some kind of parody or spoof about the movies. Chaplin made Those Love Pangs, The Masquerader, and Behind the Screen Keaton released Sherlock Jr.; Harold Lloyd, as Lonesome Luke, filmed Luke's Movie Muddle; and Mack Sennett released several short subjects that poked fun at the art of movie making.  So it was only a matter of time before Charley Chase took a stab at this subject and in Movie Night, he really hit the high mark.

By 1929, Hollywood and the rest of the world had resigned itself to the fact that the talking motion picture was here to stay.  Although he knew that his silent film-making days were numbered, Charley Chase gave the world one last classic two-reeler that seemed to sum up his long and wonderful career.

In Movie Night, Charley uses the visual medium to "show" sound and proves, if for only a fleeting moment in the waning days of the silents, that the art that the world had come to know and understand was in no desperate need of being abandoned.  His running gag about the hazards of having the hiccups is pure silent comedy, despite its fundamental roots of sound.

The basic plot concerns Charley and his family going to the local movie house and enjoying the weekly show.  From the preparation of leaving the house, getting in line for the tickets, finding a seat, to the final flickering image on the theater screen, this film shows any audience from any age that nothing has really changed.  However, as it's Charley Chase going to the movies, anything that can happen, does happen. This silent swan song is one of the funniest parodies any clown ever made. Although he would have continued popularity in the new sound era, Charley Chase's silents, especially the two-reelers from 1925 to 1929, are the best examples of this all too forgotten comic genius.

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