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Daily Dose of Doozy #5: Cleaning Up His Act: Charley Chase


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Even though I wasn't too familiar of the work of Charley Chase, it was interesting to watch his short films. And to see how chase took mundane activities and turned them into slapstick features.

 

1. His expressions and actions were somewhat exaggerated. I didn't find them to be repetitive, and they could be viewed as ritualistic in a different fashion. Ritualistic in being a part of a daily ritual. (Like in the gag from "The Pip From Pittsburgh"). Make believe in circumstances and out-of-the-ordinary location. And make believe with the shiny suit- which some viewers may have not understood or found appealing. Just very slight pain with the perfume.

 

2. Yes, I believe the clip challenged that his greatest expression was exasperation, because I did not sense it was overbearing. I found him to be surprisingly subtle.

 

3. I think the scene transitioned well, the sounds set up and played to the gags. And while watching, I felt the technical aspects of the films felt a bit modern.

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First, let me start by saying that I have never been too familiar with Charley Chase. Only from the Sons of the Desert film and his directing of The Three Stooges shorts, but I have become a huge fan of his. I found him to be a riot and got lots of laughs from him.

In the film clip in the Daily Doozy #5 I found his comedy to be pretty much all the elements. His antics were exaggerated, physical with the perfume spray hitting him everywhere but his mouth and that was repetitive. It was painful to see him struggle to clean himself up, get hit in the face with the spray and even to run into "The pip from Pittsburgh".

I believe his greatest emotion is exasperation. His struggle to clean up and nothing seems to go right any of the times.

This being a Hal Roach produced short the music was useful in building up his scene and the rhythm. The music is Roach's trademark and a giveaway that it's going to be fun.

On the whole, I found Charley Chase to be extremely funny. His movements, emotions and actions were quite exaggerated but I think that is his character. His pairing with Thelma Todd is wonderful. They worked off of each other well.

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I just watched The Pip from Pittsburgh, the clip and the whole film. I found it and Charley Chase entertaining and funny.  It wasn't  engaging all our emotions like Chaplin does and you don't feel the as sorry for his character like other comics (Keaton and Lloyd) but of course this is sound and he has to express himself differently from them.  This he does by being exasperated and cunning by trying to discourage his blind date.  The innocence of the sweet silent comic can no longer be the only appeal now that sound has been introduced to film.  I think that is why when comparing Charley Chase in The Wooden Wedding to The Pip from Pittsburgh the character has changed.

 I do feel this clip has all but the painful/violent condition of slapstick, though the film itself does have it with people falling down as they trip over gumballs. But the clip has the exaggerated, physical, repetitive and make believe conditions just in the perfume scene.

I agree with Gerald Mast that Chase's greatest emotion is "exasperation".  Maybe Chase felt it was an emotion that didn't show as well in his silent films.

I also think the music for this film while nostalgic for me remembering all the Laurel and Hardy and Our Gang films growing up was also a repetitive form for a comedic set up that Roach studio used over and over again. 

 

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1. How well do the slapstick elements of this clip match up with the five conditions of slapstick proposed in Module 1 (exaggerated, physical, repetitive/ritualistic, make believe, painful/violent)?

My response: While I wouldn't say that the painful/violent condition is fulfilled, after all, no one gets hurt, the other four conditions are pretty much nailed. The scented water that hits everywhere but his mouth, signifying repetition and physicality, the character's actions are exaggerated, and the whole gag is played for laughs, hence it's make believe.

 

2. Do you find the clip confirming or challenging Gerald Mast's description of Charley Chase? Even in a short clip, do you get the sense that his greatest emotion is "exasperation?"

 

My response: This clip confirms Mast's description, because he performs actions that would most likely not work and manages to succeed without breaking a sweat, such as the shaving bit. That in itself is a feat.

 

3. As an early talkie that is transitioning from the "silent film era," how well do you think this scene uses synchronous sound and music in the construction of its gags?

 

My response: With a gag like this, the gag can easily be done in a silent picture, but the added sound and music makes it all the more fitting, adding to the atmosphere of the gag. So in my opinion, very well.

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1. How well do the slapstick elements of this clip match up with the five conditions of slapstick proposed in Module 1 (exaggerated, physical, repetitive/ritualistic, make believe, painful/violent)?

 

Well this one was not violent in any way. It was some what physical BUT it was more of use the elements around you to get what you want.. Almost what Chaplin did in last weeks clip.


2. Do you find the clip confirming or challenging Gerald Mast's description of Charley Chase? Even in a short clip, do you get the sense that his greatest emotion is "exasperation?"

Yes I feel his greatest emotion is exasperation.


3. As an early talkie that is transitioning from the "silent film era," how well do you think this scene uses synchronous sound and music in the construction of its gags?

They did not do much talking. If so not for long a line or two. But it was more almost sound and music with the gags...still almost like the days of silent films. A Talkie like a silent film.

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Well, unfortunately like last week, I'm catching up so I'll just post my thoughts on the clip and then I might go back and read the thread.

 

Like most of the previous comedians discussed, I think this is the first clip I see of Chase. One of the first things that struck me was how well this could've played even if it was a silent. There would be no need for sound because everything was in the expressions, body language, and mannerisms.

 

In that respect, Chase's acting was very well exaggerated and physical. I surely got a Chaplin vibe from him as he moved around the set. Most notably his stride and face contortions. I think that that kind of body language is what gives away that everything is make-believe. The only element I didn't see was violence/pain.

 

As for Mast's statement about Chase's acting, based on this clip, I kinda agree. I think it is better presented in that moment when he is interrupted by the other lady and he dismisses her with a clever trick. His face is that of pure exasperation and sarcasm. But all through, you can see he is exasperated with his situation, and trying to make the best of it.

 

Finally, the last question, I think I addressed it above. Even though the film benefits from the sound (most notably the water squirting sound, and Chase's distorted voice in the first part when he speaks with the contorted mouth). I also loved how you get to hear the newspaper guy in the background despite Chase not caring about him. But regardless of that, I think this would've played just as well if it would've been a silent.

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Wow!  What a new man.  I begin to see the move to a different kind of comedian and he reminds me of John Cleese.    In the Pip from Pittsburg, Charley Chase has several levels of mood, all that I am drawn into especially by his facial gestures.  All the elements of slapstick are evident:  Exaggerated in his reactions and his covert gestures to the antagonist.  His moves define the opposite of subtle.  He goes back to the fresh breath despenser repeatedly.  And each time he gets better controlling it.  The painfulness of having to deal with the antagonists is emphasized not just in his physical body reactions, but in his reacting body and facial gestures.

I disagree with Gerald Mast's suggesting that his greatest emotion is exasperation.  I think it is his cunningness.  His exasperation is the lead-in to his revenge, even if it is only his behind-the-back, passive aggression. 

 

Sound is now very important in this clip.  The orchestral mood music, being paused just barely, for gag sound effects to be heard.   Now the editing room is beginning to really be a part of the success of the film.  For example:  the music break when the spray comes out of the dispenser.  The music grows by modulating up into a slighter higher pitch each time he attempts another spritz.  The clarinet music emphasizes his character.  And again, a quick pause, when he points out the lunches, "see those lunches" the music plays again.  The man reading the newspaper is just enough of a presence, but his full face is not shown - he becomes a sound effect... adding to the effect that Chase's cunningness goes unseen (except by his love interest) as he shaves using the display items.  Then using shaving in the reflection behind which the man is still monotonously reading.  Brilliant pioneering of future comedy, especially situational comedy.  The slapstick adds just enough spice to the clip.

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Wow!  What a new man.  I begin to see the move to a different kind of comedian and he reminds me of John Cleese.    In the Pip from Pittsburg, Charley Chase has several levels of mood, all that I am drawn into especially by his facial gestures.  All the elements of slapstick are evident:  Exaggerated in his reactions and his covert gestures to the antagonist.  His moves define the opposite of subtle.  He goes back to the fresh breath despenser repeatedly.  And each time he gets better controlling it.  The painfulness of having to deal with the antagonists is emphasized not just in his physical body reactions, but in his reacting body and facial gestures.

I disagree with Gerald Mast's suggesting that his greatest emotion is exasperation.  I think it is his cunningness.  His exasperation is the lead-in to his revenge, even if it is only his behind-the-back, passive aggression. 

 

Sound is now very important in this clip.  The orchestral mood music, being paused just barely, for gag sound effects to be heard.   Now the editing room is beginning to really be a part of the success of the film.  For example:  the music break when the spray comes out of the dispenser.  The music grows by modulating up into a slighter higher pitch each time he attempts another spritz.  The clarinet music emphasizes his character.  And again, a quick pause, when he points out the lunches, "see those lunches" the music plays again.  The man reading the newspaper is just enough of a presence, but his full face is not shown - he becomes a sound effect... adding to the effect that Chase's cunningness goes unseen (except by his love interest) as he shaves using the display items.  Then using shaving in the reflection behind which the man is still monotonously reading.  Brilliant pioneering of future comedy, especially situational comedy.  The slapstick adds just enough spice to the clip.

What a great read, seeing John Cleese in Chase!
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What I like most about the integration of sound into slapstick (and vice versa) here is the way Chase's verbal delivery helps to establish his character. Exasperation is only part of it, and we do hear a certain edge to his voice at times. But I think it's his bustling, man of the modern city manner that seems decidedly new. Chase's delivery, while not the gattling-gun onslaught we'll get with Groucho, is electricity-quick, with an upbeat urban rhythm to it. It's pretty much the exact opposite of Buster Keaton's verbal style. Through this "clean-up gag," this guy talks quickly, moves quickly, and thinks quickly -- just like the fast and noisy world around him. He is maybe even a little quicker than the world, and this is what lets him maneuver in this gag.

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Charley Chase is a new experience for me, and I think I will definitely be watching more of him!

 

1)  For the five elements of slapstick, Charley is doing very well.  Charley is exaggerated, definitely.  You can tell by his facial expressions and hand gestures that he has fulfilled this element of slapstick.  The physical element comes in as he's "fighting" with the water, a routine that you can definitely predict what is going to happen, but the payoff is still hilarious.  There is truly the element of make believe, as the "article reader" is oblivious to the fact that Charley has completely dismissed and ignored, while shaving behind his back.  I don't know that the painful/violent aspect is there just yet, but I'm sure that part will appear eventually.  

 

2)  While Mast describes Charley Chase as less dash and zip, more fussy and irritable.... I guess I agree to a certain extent, just by watching this clip.  There are many differences between Lloyd and Chase, but while Chase seemed a bit more fussy and detail-oriented as he was fixing himself up, I wouldn't find him irritable.  There were a number of smiles and a sense of lightness during the clip.

 

3)  Ah, there was very little dialog in this clip.  Obviously, this is a transition from silent to talkie.  This type of clip forces the viewer to focus on the visual experience rather than the auditory, verbal slapstick that we would see from Groucho Marx or Abbott and Costello.  We are watching the water gag, the attempt at getting a quick shave in while no one notices, etc.  Good clean fun!

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1. How well do the slapstick elements of this clip match up with the five conditions of slapstick proposed in Module 1 (exaggerated, physical, repetitive/ritualistic, make believe, painful/violent)?


To me only 4 of the 5 conditions are met. The painful/violent condition is not fulfilled. No one gets hurt. The scented water that hits everywhere but his mouth displayed repetition and physicality. Charley Chase's actions are exaggerated. I realize the entire scene is played as a gag for laughs so its make believe but I had a hard time laughing. 


 


2. Do you find the clip confirming or challenging Gerald Mast's description of Charley Chase? Even in a short clip, do you get the sense that his greatest emotion is "exasperation?"


 


I challenge Gerald Mast's description of Charley Mast. Yes is "exasperation" is very good. But this is the first film clip I did not laugh even once.


 


3. As an early talkie that is transitioning from the "silent film era," how well do you think this scene uses synchronous sound and music in the construction of its gags?


 


Sound and music fitted the scene and added to it. Actually helped.


 


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I watched ​Midsummer Mush starring Charley Chase and (LOL) directed by Charles Parrott and laughed all the way through.  I'd never heard of Charley Chase until I started this course, so I thank TCM, Richard Edwards and the whole gang for giving me this wonderful opportunity to study Slapstick Comedy. 

Charley Chase played the role of a boyscout leader taking his troop on an outing, and of course he gets into all kinds of slapstick situations.  Prop:  Two whistles - Boyscout leader blowing it to keep his boys marching and the cop trying to direct traffic.  -Use of cars and people creating traffic jam.  Then he enjoys a lick of icecream from a cone that a pretty lady holds out, and that's where the real fun begins.  They all end up in the country where there is a large pond.  Of course, there is love story imbedded, so as to attract female viewers such as myself.  Then there's the repeated feature of slapstick - the pond. 

He definitely plays the exasperated fellow in this movie, but also the hapless, yet ever optimistic victim.

One piece of dialogue I will share:  Chase says to the guy who puts an apple on his fishing hook, "You can't catch a fish with an apple."

The guy says, "There's a worm in it."

I like how Chas is the set-up guy for the joke. 

He also uses the getting spritzed in the face gag. 

He wears glasses that have lenses in them and whenever the sun glares on him, it makes him look even more silly.

  I hope you can see it.  I found it on youtube - Archivo DiFilm  Charley Chase- Midsummer Mush 1933.

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It seems to me that the only condition not satisfied on this clip is the "violence" one. We have all the situations, yet ordinary, exaggerated to be funny. We see Chase's physical efforts to get ready by preparing himself in several ways. Each step of his preparation flirts with repetition of barriers/difficulties that he must transpass (and that's a condition I wouldn't realize until watching several slapstick movies). And finally, the make-believe point is there from the beginning to the end.

 

I agree with the exasperation point well quoted by Mast's. It is clear to see how potty he gets trying to solve minor and ordinary problems, specially when things go wrong all the time. It is clear to me this difference, specially remembering Lloyd's "Speedy" (1928), where our main character lives a great sort of misfortunes and yet keeps his good humor intact.

 

Considering its year of release (1931), the synchronous sound seems pretty good to me. Music is not as inspired as it could be, but the verbal gags work with the help of sound, not the contrary. Of course years later we would have much better examples of that, but we are in a phase where movies were learning to me made in sound.

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1. How well do the slapstick elements of this clip match up with the five conditions of slapstick proposed in Module 1 (exaggerated, physical, repetitive/ritualistic, make believe, painful/violent)?


 


I watched the clip then I decided to go and watch the entire short. Watching the short in its entirety made the clip make way more sense. To me at least. It was definitely exaggerated from his actions to be as gross as possible thinking his date was going to be ugly, to finding out she's beautiful then with his attempts to clean back up. Physical for sure. Falling into the woman's bathroom when he turns and sees she is pretty, to driving to the dance when every time his garlic breath made his friend almost drive into people, to dancing and getting his suspenders caught, getting sprayed in the face with the rose water and spilling all the gumballs all over. The entire short really needed to be seen not just the small clip of it. 


Repetitive/Ritualistic - goes along with the physical, the attempts to clean up especially with the rose water spraying all over. Reminded me of The Three Stooges or even Laurel and Hardy with the trick lapel flower gag. ( And I learned from reading these answers that he used to direct Three Stooges so it now makes sense to me that his gags seem familiar since I am a huge fan of the Stooges)


 


Make believe  - I would say the part where he is shaving. The man reading the paper being oblivious to Charley using his as a block so he could shave then using the back of the other man's jacket as a mirror. Must have been some incredibly shiny fabric. I thought that gag was a little far fetched even for slapstick. The entire short  could be seen as make believe. 


 


Violence - well no one got punched, but you could say the driving was a little violent, almost hitting people. Him falling into the bathroom violent or people slipping on the gumballs. But those weren't in the clip, but other parts of the short. 


 


 


 


2. Do you find the clip confirming or challenging Gerald Mast's description of Charley Chase? Even in a short clip, do you get the sense that his greatest emotion is "exasperation?"


I would say his emotion was some exasperation, embarrassment and annoyance. Annoyed about the old date being there, annoyed she tricked him with the lunch basket, annoyed his friends wouldn't get him his suit back. Exasperated at the rose water machine, embarrassed he was so gross when he saw his date was pretty. 


 


 


3. As an early talkie that is transitioning from the "silent film era," how well do you think this scene uses synchronous sound and music in the construction of its gags?


I think they did a great job with the sound and the music. It fit well into the scene, not overly done but part of sound slapstick is the sound effects that go with the gags. I think it was well done. 


 


 


I also wished this was a longer film. They could have done so much more with it. Maybe have him visit her in Pittsburg and he shows up looking super sharp, nice suit, shaved, fresh breath etc and she answsers the door all gross and grubby with no makeup on , hair messy, maybe a tattered robe. To sort of turn the tables. And then have the Pip from Pittsburg as her roommate and she is all dolled up. Something. I am rambling. Anyway I enjoyed the short. 


 


 

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The clip contains four out of five slapstick elements. CHase didn't get violent or or any kind of pain in the clip. I would confirm the clip described Chase as all of the characteristics that Mast listed. I go the sense that he and his environmet was full of "exasperation." The sound and music of the clip is right on the spot with the gags.

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2. Do you find the clip confirming or challenging Gerald Mast's description of Charley Chase? Even in a short clip, do you get the sense that his greatest emotion is "exasperation?" A every turn Chase's efforts or intentions are frustrated by outside elements. Those elements may be another person or a mechanism/prop of some sort. His exasperation works to enhance the comedy of the scene.

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The clip contains four out of five slapstick elements. CHase didn't get violent or or any kind of pain in the clip. I would confirm the clip described Chase as all of the characteristics that Mast listed. I go the sense that he and his environmet was full of "exasperation." The sound and music of the clip is right on the spot with the gags.

I'm not sure I agree about the pain...it's subtle but I felt like the perfume sprayer in the eye had to have been painful. I think I cringed when that happened lol

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The clip was fascinating for me to watch, especially the total flirt aspect of the female (Thelma Todd) character and the total action of the male (Charlie Chase) character with this clip from, "Pip from Pittsburgh."

1-I do agree that the five elements of slapstick were included in this clip of the film: exaggeration, repetitive, make believe, painful/violent, etc., but to various degrees.  For example, make believe was present with Thelma Todd acting like a saint to be so patient with her date when she truly was a 'Pip" and probably not use to such a rude, non-attractive date. The repetitive piece was present in the interesting rose perfume wall dispenser.  Can you imagine having those in restaurants back in the day, amazing!

2-I agree Mr. Mast make a solid description of Charlie Chase, especially with him being strongly exasperated during the perfume scene.

​3-The music and synchronous sounds were done pretty well during this adjustment period from silent to sound films.  The cheerful music does add to the "pregnant pauses" while the actions are trying to speak loudly as they did 100% of the time during the silent film era.

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The Pip of Pittsburgh is an interesting comedy film. I have to say that the comedy scene which is taken from the film does not have all the five elements of slapstick comedy but it have some. It is exaggerated as one can see that Mr. Chase is attempting to wash his teeth with hand washing liquid from the dispenser. It is repetitive as he tries to wash his mouth again with the dispenser. It could be painful as the liquid did sprayed on his eye. 

        His emotion could be exasperation  as he is trying to remove the garlic breath by spraying the liquid as well as shaving himself amidst the public (even though we could see that they are not even concerned about this nice fellow shaving his chin).

     This film did a good job in make a sound slapstick as the sound is well-synchronized and music at the music of one the main props which featured in this film.post-60817-0-46196000-1476043012_thumb.jpg  

post-60817-0-46196000-1476043012_thumb.jpg

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I found this gag really funny! I mean we all now that we have seen it elsewhere here it looked so delicate and gentle! He mocked the whole situation. In other words what a gentle man can do when he is in a hurry! 

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How well do the slapstick elements of this clip match up with the five conditions of slapstick proposed in Module 1 (exaggerated, physical, repetitive/ritualistic, make believe, painful/violent)?

 

Exaggerated not so much. Except the water gag. That part was repetitive and make-believe. Nothing was really physical as he didn't hurt himself whatsoever or put others in any danger. It was more painful to watch than anything.

 

2. Do you find the clip confirming or challenging Gerald Mast's description of Charley Chase? Even in a short clip, do you get the sense that his greatest emotion is "exasperation?"

 

Yeah you do get that but more than exasperation he's a **** stealing barber supplies to shave his face. He's low class onscreen yet sets his standards sky high wanting Thelma Todd.

 

 

3. As an early talkie that is transitioning from the "silent film era," how well do you think this scene uses synchronous sound and music in the construction of its gags?

 

It does it's job. I will tell you though it kind of dates itself as being from when the industry was in transition finding itself again.

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