22 February 2010 | hte-trasme
Seeing this is no crime
This is a very funny and well put-together entry from Charley Chase's series of later shorts from Columbia Pictures, and good demonstration once again of his constant production of consistently original and creative comedy. This is one of those Chase comedies that proceed semi-logically but from a from a single bizarre premise, and in this case it's that Charley is a soda jerk who is obsessed with crime magazines. This kind of development means the short can proceed at a leisurely pace and explore all the gags that arise naturally from this -- such an in the opening scenes some funny stuff with a couple of kids trying to cheat each other out of soda, and Charley's distraction causing him to spill all over a customer -- while still proceeding at a fine pace into the humiliating situation Charley usually ends up in.
This too means a good variety of types of gags coming from Charley's singular comedy mind, including some clever visual stuff (watch him avoiding the angry policeman who is after him) and some great domestic scenes as Charley plays off his intolerable mother in law, who then becomes as obsessed as him when she wins the reward he wanted.
The comic coup-de-grace comes at the end, as Charley disguises himself as a blind one-man-band in order to catch the crook. This gives him a chance to sing one of his delightful songs -- which is a rarity in his Columbia shorts -- and to engage in a great comedy sequence in which is impression of a blind person proves somewhat inadequate. This incorporates some memorable one-liners as well ("You've got such an honest face... won;t you help the blind man?"), typical of the verbal humor that Charley seemed to be working very effectively into his comedy once he came to Columbia, perhaps as a counterpoint to the increased knockabout slapstick that went with the territory around les White's department.