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Tuesday, 3 April 2007

Mighty Like a Moose (1926) Leo McCarey

Charley Chase and Vivien Oakland are the unfortunately named Mr and Mrs Moose. Even more unfortunate is the fact that he has scarily protruding teeth and she has a scarily protruding nose, but that's something they can fix. They've both been saving up for a long while to do so and the results are so impressive that they don't recognise each other even when sharing a lift or sitting next to each other on the shoeshine stand. Given that it's 1926 and so this is a silent film, they can't recognise each other by voice either.

What makes the comedy great is that they both get fitted with artificial means of temporarily returning to their previous misfortune, and so they end up in the bizarre situation where they both start cheating on each other... with each other. The stage management of how they successfully avoid each other while preparing to do so is textbook stuff and there's more to come. The finale is managed just as well with Chase doing double duty as himself twice, even working a believable fight sequence as both parties involved!

The action stays wisely on the pair of them rather than involving a wider range of characters and that works a treat. Chase is better here than in any of his other films and Vivien Oakland keeps up with him very well indeed. Finally I get why he's regarded by so many as an unsung genius. He hasn't seemed it at all in the other films I've seen of his but he's just wonderful here. Even Buddy the Dog can't steal it!

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