Monday 2 April 2007

April Fool (1924) Ralph Ceder

Half the Charley Chase silent shorts I've seen weren't really Charley Chase films: they were Charlie Chaplin films made in Chaplin's debut year of 1914. However the other half I've seen come from the mid twenties, when Chase signed up with Hal Roach to star in a new series of films. This is an early example of his Hal Roach shorts and if it's not sidesplittingly funny it's at least consistently amusing.

Chase's character, not that it really matters other than to set the scene, is Jimmy Jump, a reporter at a cheap newspaper. As you can imagine from the title, it's April Fool's Day and Jimmy has the unenviable task of trying to distinguish between what's prank and what's real. Naturally, given that we're dealing with comedy on the level of the Beano comic, there's a good deal of the former and only enough of the latter to keep the jokes alive.

Chase does his job well enough, as does everyone else involved, but while it might sound redundant to say this about slapstick comedy, it's really just kids stuff. There's no attempt to even wrap up the strands of plot it generates, which wouldn't have been difficult, because it's really just a string of gags wrapped up in a common theme.

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